Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's Different For Girls

I recently read a couple of posts about raising girls. The first was from Adeline's Daddy, talking about secretly hoping his first child was going to be a girl. The other post on Stay At Home Dad PDX, discussed the unfortunate low bar set for dads, when all it takes is for Dad to fix his daughter's hair, and people feel compelled to comment about what a great dad he is.

My comment to both blogs was a little similar, so I thought I'd write about it here.

Of course now I'm an expert. Even Klout says so. But before my first child was born, I had no idea what I was doing. I had never held a baby before, never babysat, never changed a diaper, never even came near these small creatures, because I just knew I was going to break the first one I held. And THEN what...? But we made a baby, and after the nurse ordered me to hold him and to change his diapers, she left us alone with him. My wife was still sleepy, a little out-of-it, recovering from the C-section, which meant I was suddenly in charge of life.

Well, somehow we've all made it, but for a long time I felt that although I'd always been a step behind on where a knowledgeable parent should have been, AT LEAST I was able to use my intuition, because I had a boy. If I had a girl, I felt, we wouldn't have made it.

It's probably wrong. After all, it was all a learning curve, no matter what I was dealing with. Still, I have to admit that like Adeline's Dad, the reason I was hoping for a boy was that a boy made sense to me. Dealing with a mini-me seemed easier than dealing with a mini-my-wife.

Like Adeline's Dad, if I did have a girl as a first-born, I would have been just as happy, and in the end, the challenges and the rewards would have probably been the same as what I got from my boy, but I also don't think we should be embarrassed about wishing that with all the chaos of moving from a couple to a family, from taking care of yourself to taking care of a little creature, things make sense as much as possible...

I agreed with Stay At Home Dad PDX that the "great parent" bar is too low for dads, but I have to say that as far as I'm concerned, a dad who fixes his daughter's hair is at a whole other level, because personally, well... I've never put my 2-year-old girl in a dress. I know she has tights in the drawer, but I wouldn't know what to do with them. The only reason I'm not panicking so much about putting her hair in a pony-tail is that I had one when I was a teenager (sorry), so I kind of know what I'm doing. But no pig-tails or braids. Or any sort of pins in the hair. My life is complicated enough...

I know if I absolutely have to put a dress on her, it will happen. But as long as no one is forcing me to do that, I will continue dressing her in jeans and in her brother's old shirts, and maybe I'll put her hair in a pony tail, because I don't know what else to do with it. One day, if I have to, I'll step up. Until then, I'll keep lowering the bar by making my life easier and by making sure as much as possible makes sense.

Different for Girls

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  1. Yeah, I felt the same way before I had kids. Never touched them, didn't go near em, didn't hold em. And like you I was thrust into the role after my wife's C section, but I dove in and learned how to hold and burp and change diapers. I don't think that makes me great either, because hair and makeup aren't the real issues with raising a girl or boy. The real challenge is helping to shape their values and way of thinking and who they are on the inside. And if that's our focus then who cares who's old shirts they wear, right? I mean, at least until they reach middle school!

  2. I was terrified to have a girl because I was afraid of giving birth to myself. My second baby was a girl, but it took me awhile to realize that I already gave birth to myself...and he's 7. He's more like me than he is like his father. While it's true I'm better at doing our girls hair and my husband once put a dress on her backwards (What? The buttons go on the back?), in the end gender doesn't matter TOO much when it comes to understanding them.

  3. she's probably more comfortable and mobile in pants and a shirt anyway, so it's a win-win.

  4. I don't really know how to do anything with hair either and my daughter only wears dresses because people gave them to me. I totally planned to have her wear all her older brother's things because I sure as hell wasn't buying more clothes for another child that wouldn't care what she was wearing.

    My Dad liked to braid my hair more than my mom did, actually. If you can do a ponytail--that's enough! :D

    I guess I can relate to raising the opposite sexed child and feeling a bit out of the loop when it came to potty training. I sure as hell wasn't teaching my son how to pee standing up. It seemed messy and I have no experience whatsoever in the fine points of peeing from an upright position. So, I just taught him to pee sitting down! If we are ever hiking and he has to go--I make the husband handle that.

  5. anordinarydad, I know. But still... I think putting my daughter in a dress is a challenge I'm not ready for. Yet. Even when my wife prepares clothes for her, it takes me a while to figure things out, but picking out clothes... Actually thinking, "She'll be cute wearing this dress," is something I can't imagine ever doing. It'll happen eventually, though.

  6. Kayris, you're right. Although in some of my girl's clothes the buttons do go in the back. Drives me crazy. Why would they do that? But then I remember I live in the Matrix, and it's probably just a bug.

  7. Kelly, right? And after all these years of marriage, the indoctrination has been successful enough for me to make sure the colors match. Maybe one day I'll understand the irreversible harm I'm causing my children when I put them in shirts with horizontal striped and corduroys.

  8. Autumn, Liam still sits... He's almost ready, because a kid in his class stands up, but I think maybe we should wait to practice in public bathrooms...

    And we also got a lot of dresses from friends and relatives, but they mostly just sit there in the closet until they're too small for her, making room for other stuff I'm not using.

  9. O, good. I got a judged a bit by some female friends when we were out at a park and River had a hard time peeing standing up. So we tried it out with him aiming at a fish cracker in the toilet later that night. He doesn't like to pee standing up. I don't see why he has too. I mean, half the population would have a hard time doing it. Just because men can, doesn't mean they have too. Although it would come in handy in public and outside--so we'll keep working on it!

  10. I don't push it because I'm afraid it would backfire, but I get the shakes every time he sits in a public toilet. Men's public toilets are different--they have a missing part in the front, so lazy men would not have to lift the seat, I guess. Which means the front always has pee on it.

    He did try standing in the house yesterday, because some of the kids in class are doing it, and 90% ended up outside the bowl. So I'm still not pushing it...

  11. When I found out I was having twins, I was ecstatic. Being the engineer I was, I quickly calculated that I had a 75% chance of having at least one son and only a 25% chance of having all daughters. It's not that I didn't want a daughter, but I'm a guys guy...what do I know about having daughters? I'll fully admit that I was rather pissed at first when I found out I was having twin girls. But that quickly faded and now I couldn't be happier.

    What's funny is that my most recent article is about how the entry-level to being a good dad is so low. I hadn't searched around the web for this kind of thing before I published and then found this article and the article at Stay At Home Dad PDX. Looks like I'm in good company on my thought process!

  12. Big Dan, thanks. Happy I could help make you feel you weren't alone here!

    From my short experience with my daughter (she'll be two soon), I think there's still time before things become THAT different. She likes to play with cars and she likes to kick a ball, so I think we're good so far.

  13. We havent decided on a number two yet, but I've written about the gender issue on my own blog, as recently as yesterday. It's a popular topic.

    As I say in my post, yy wife is desperate for a girl too and was a little disappointed when our son was diagnosed a male. But she recovered (and then some) once he was born.

    Should we have number two, the same cycle may repeat itself. Especially since almost all of our friends have multiple boys! Is gender contagious? It seems like it!

  14. Dad and Buried wrote "when my son was _diagnosed_ as a male"

    Funniest line I've read this week. Thanks for the laugh!

    Funny you mention something about gender being contagious. There's a TON of girls in our group of friends. But it seems like the people who have boys have multiple boys as well. Very weird indeed.

    BloggerFather - I agree. My girls are very much little kids and not girls. There's Barbie and Princess stuff all over my house, but they still play with balls (boy did that sound bad), cars, trains and the like. They even make Barbie do Batman-stuff. I just want them to be happy and healthy...and if one or both of them want to help me restore the classic Mustang I buy one day, then all the better :)

  15. Girls rock, I have to admit. But boys are fun too. My boy told me yesterday that he didn't want me to die, so that's nice.

  16. I always dreamed I would have daughters, as I grew up in a family with a sister, and always was a "girlie girl" myself. But now I am a mom of 2 boys 2 and 6 years old, I play with them with toy cars, soccer, wrestle, play with plastic guns and swords and watch sports, and for the life of me I cannot remember what one is supposed to do with girls! (sorry if it's double comment, wasn't sure if it got sent)

  17. Boys are fun and I have 5 of them. They're a very energetic bunch...they move too much and talk too much but they are mine and I am thankful for them.

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