Trying to raise a little girl is a little different than raising a boy… at least for me. You see, I did not have any sisters. I have a brother and finding things to do together was always pretty easy. He was less than a year older than me. Yup… Irish Twins. I tell my parents all the time that they were crazy for having us so close, and that is coming from a father of 4 kids:
Three son born in 06, 08 and 10… and a daughter born in 2012.
My brother and I were like most boys that we grew up with. We loved playing outside with our friends. Riding our bikes all day long until the street light would come on (That’s when we had to be home, not a minute later). We played outside in the dirt and got yelled at for it. Not because we were dirty, but because we would be wearing our nice “Church clothes.”
We would play street hockey, kickball, and whiffle ball down on the road a few blocks away and getting yelled at by the neighbors for playing in front of their homes (It was the only flat and safe place we could play… we did live in the city in Western PA-Very hilly). We played with action figures like He-Man, Transformers and G.I. Joe. We didn’t have Barbie dolls and Cabbage Patch Kids like most of the girls had back then.
Now I am a dad and I have three sons. Our first three kids that we had were all boys… Just up my alley from what I was used to. Remembering back from what we did as boys I thought “This should be pretty easy!” Well… then came our little princess Allie. Like her Mom, she is all girl. She loves everything that was opposite of what I was used to. It was all just a little different. Awesome, but different.
For the 1st few years, I really wanted to have the “Daddy’s Girl” relationship with Allie. I wanted to be the one she came to when she cried and needed someone to hold. But it was not like that. I used to tell Becky that it was just due to my previous work schedule. I left early and came home late most days. However, I worked pretty much the same hours when Jack, Beau, and Ethan were little as well, and I had really strong bonds with them! So that wasn’t it… So what else could it be?
Like most things, and being a typical, stereotypical man at the time, I didn’t want to ask my wife for advice. I was going to figure it out for myself. Well guess what? That didn’t work!
Becky finally saw my frustration and she just told me to “Just sit with her and she will let you know what she wants YOU to do!’ I said “OK” and walked away. I thought, “Just sit there”… what is she talking about? She is only 2, how can she know what she wants!”
Well, guess what? She was right and that little bit of advice worked. I would just sit with her and she would grab my hand and she would let me know what she wanted me to play with. She is way more gentle. compared to my boys who always want to wrestle or play tickle monster. She is unlike anything that I remembered doing as a kid. She has opened my eyes to her world. We play with her toy princess and My Little Ponies. We feed and change her baby dolls.
We like to go on walks and she loves to hold my hand. Unlike my boys that wanted to run and or play catch, she wants to paint my nails and have me paint hers. Now, some of the things I had to practice at a bit to get them to her liking… well, the painting nails thing, and fixing her hair, letting her wear a dress every single day… but I am working on it and getting pretty good at it!
For me, making that initial connection was different, but that’s all it was…different. If you struggle to find a connection with your kids, that’s OK… it is normal. Try to really listen to what your kids need, not what they want. At two, my daughter already knew what she needed from me. I just had to be ready to listen to her. Parenting is not always about fitting our kids into our lifestyle. It is more about adapting together to create a new environment and learning to thrive in that change.
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