Dads and Girl's Puberty
Dear Mr. Dad: I’m a single dad and my
daughter is 11. I know I’m going to have some kind of discussion
with her about puberty but I don’t have a clue where to
A: Congratulations! You’re about to deal with something
that most dads spend a lot of time worrying about. Luckily, though,
it really isn’t all that bad.
Whether you’re a custodial dad or you share custody, it's
reasonably safe to assume that your ex will be having some discussions
about puberty and
menstruation with your daughter. But sometimes things don't work out exactly
the way you planned. Even if they do, it's a good idea for you to prepare yourself
to deal with these issues anyway. Women's bodies have always been something
of a mystery to most men and it's perfectly normal to be confused, embarrassed,
or even somewhat put off by your daughter's physical changes.
To start with, you should learn a little about girls' puberty. That way if
you ever need to talk to your daughter about it you'll sound a little more
Somewhere between ages of 8 and 14 the process will start. Your daughter will
start to develop breasts, she'll start growing hair on her genitals and under
her arms, her skin may start breaking out, and eventually she'll start menstruating.
The whole process usually takes from 18 months to as long as 7 or 8 years to
complete. If your daughter seems to be starting puberty at the very early end
of the age range or hasn't started by the end of the range, have a talk with
Ask your daughter whether she has any questions about what's going on and let
her know that she can ask you anytime she wants to talk. She'll probably be
far to self-conscious to discuss those intimate details with a guy but having
made the offer will let her know that you care--and that's the most important
If you sense that your daughter isn't getting the information she needs from
your ex, offer to put her in touch with an adult female friend or relative
she might feel more comfortable talking to.
Your daughter may feel fat, embarrassed, and uncomfortable in her new body.
She may be constantly comparing her rate of development to that of her girl
friends and, if she's started early, she may have to deal with some increased
attention from boys.
In addition, as strange as it sounds, your daughter's puberty is going to affect
you too. She may, for example, start flirting with you just like she did when
she was a toddler. If this happens, keep in mind that feeling a little sexual
tingle around your daughter is completely normal. Acting on it absolutely not.
The problem is that a lot of guys are scared of these feelings and they end
up backing away from their daughters, as if to keep their daughters from harm.
Don't do that. Just like when she was three, your daughter needs to know what
she's going through is normal and that you, the most important male figure
in her life, love her. If you push her away, no matter how good your intentions,
she's going to feel rejected and bad about herself.
Since its debut, Armin
Brott's New Father series has been making life easier--and
a lot more fun--for fathers and mothers around the world.
Overflowing with practical advice and month-by-month developmental
descriptions (of fetus, baby and dad), the books in the New
Father series also examine the roles of fathers and
encourage men to continually take an active role in rearing
Visit Armin's website.