Things I Wish I Would Have Learned To Better Prepare Myself For Raising 3 Daughters
If you were like me growing up, you never really paid any attention to what the girls were doing. I remember playing pick up games of baseball, football, or basketball, running through the woods and going on long bike rides; while my sister went off with her friends and did whatever they did. Fast forward to present day and I find myself with three girls and no boys. I was excited when I found out about each one of them. I also remember thinking to myself that this was going to be easy, but, reality sunk in the first time my oldest one asked me to paint her nails. That is when I found out that I was missing some crucial skill sets. My hope here is to give soon to be fathers and new fathers, an overview of some of these basic skills that could make your life a little easier.
Emotions, Oh the Emotions
As a male growing up, I was always taught that you don't show your emotions. Not really learning how to express my emotions had left me a little lacking when it came to my girls. They are emotional machines that have quickly learned how to turn on the tears. If you are one who likes to tease kids, make sure you know where the line is and don't cross it. If you do, be quick to apologize. It took a while for me to be able to read how my kids are feeling and to interact with them in the appropriate manner.
Showing your daughters that you are emotionally invested with their lives makes a difference. I used to be the dad that said "What's your problem?" when my girls where upset. I eventually learned that I should say "What's bothering you?". As silly as it seems, verb-age is very important. Don't be afraid to push a little bit if they don't want to talk about it at first, there are levels of trust that you need to go through. Don't shy away from any topics either. If they feel comfortable talking to you about boys, then they will feel comfortable talking to you about other things.
Ponytails, and Pigtails, and Braids Oh My!
If you don't know how to do hair styles, start learning now. Practice on your spouse, your mom, your sister, or anyone with long hair. Use YouTube videos, experience from someone who knows how to do it, anything to learn. I never learned anything about taking care of long hair, or how to style it. I tried to take the easy way out thinking that my wife would always be around, but when she started working, it fell on me to style hair. I had no idea how to use a curling iron, or even a hair dryer.
It is important that you don't shy away from this. The time I've spent fumbling through my kids hair and them laughing at me for what I was doing, or letting them run a brush across my bald head, has been valuable for bringing us closer together. Also, this is the perfect time to talk about whatever they want to talk about. Showing them that you care about what they care about goes a long way.
Do you have steady hands? I don't, which made this task much more difficult. Like hair styles, the best thing you can do is practice. I've gone from polish all over the place to passable nails. This is another great way to spend time with your girls, and if you mess up, just remember that nail polish remover is your friend. Don't be afraid to let your girls do your nails either. I have my nails "filed" all the time. My girls won't paint my nails because "Boys don't paint their nails!", or so my girls tell me; but if they wanted to paint my nails, I'd let them do it in a heart beat.
Let's Play House!
All my kids like playing house, playing with Barbies, smashing PlayDoh or playing board games. I had to learn that when they want me to do these things with them, they still want to be in control. If you remember that they are writing the script and you are just there for the ride, it makes play time more fun.
I remember trying to play school with my oldest two. I wanted to be the teacher and actually try to make it educational. This did not go over well. After the first 10 minutes, my oldest told me, "Dad, you're not doing it right." So, I asked her what I was doing wrong. She replied with "Everything" and then sighed and put her head in her hands. As it turns out, I wasn't doing what she wanted me to do. After she took over as the teacher, my kids were much happier.
Include them in the things you like to do
One thing that stands out to me is when my middle child was almost 2, I was playing a video game. She came out and grabbed a controller (it wasn't even for the system I was playing on), sat down beside me, and started acting like she was playing the game with me. I was shocked at how content she was just to be pretending she was playing the game with me. Fast forward to today and we make it a point to play one night a week.
The point here is to include them in what you enjoying doing. My oldest child hates video games, but loves to go fishing. Even let them help you with the things you don't like doing. For some odd reason, young kids like to wash the dishes, put the laundry into the washer and then into the dryer, or run the vacuum. Of course after the reach a certain age, it becomes a fight for them to do those things. The key is to include them if they want to be included.
Support them, Don't direct them
If you have big dreams of them being a doctor or a sports star, just drop those dreams now. While its awesome to have high expectations for your kids, chances are they are going to pick activities and careers that are different than what you have in mind for them. The key is to support them in the things they want to do.
Each child is going to have different ambitions as well. My oldest likes playing guitar and cheer leading. My middle child likes to play soccer and get dirty. My youngest just bounces around all over the place right now. They all have different personalities and want different things. It took me a long time to figure out that me telling them what to do was the wrong answer and them trying new things on their own, with the support of my wife and I, was the right one.
While I'm by no means an expert, I do have almost 10 years of experience. I've learned a lot and still have a lot to learn; chances are, you will too. Don't be afraid to screw up, because you will. Mistakes are the best way to learn and your children will always forgive you, unless you forget about Christmas or a birthday, and then you will probably hear about it the rest of you life. Enjoy your kids, they have the ability to turn crappy days into really good ones.
© 2015 Kingsniz