Dear John: Single Dad - How Do I Handle Daughter’s Adolescence?
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
What’s your problem? Write to John at [email protected].
I am a single dad with a wonderful daughter who is on the verge of entering puberty. Her mom, the greatest woman I’ve ever known, passed away several years ago. I feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of my girl having a lot of questions and undergoing so many physical and emotional changes without having a woman in her life to guide her through it. We live in the middle of nowhere and I don’t have any close female friends or relatives nearby. And a lot of it I know in theory but don’t have any inkling of how it works in the real world. I’m at a bit of a loss. Any words of advice?
Good Dad, Not So Good Mom
Dear Good Dad,
As hard as I’m sure it is at times, you mustn’t give your daughter the idea that this is something she needs a mom to help her deal with and that you’re a poor substitute who will just have to muddle through. She will take her cues about this entirely from you, so if you convey to her that you feel overwhelmed (even though that’s completely understandable), she’ll probably feel anxious, but if you treat it matter-of-factly as something you’ll figure out together, she’ll think Dad has it under control.
The first thing you have to do is get very, very comfortable (if you’re not already) talking to your daughter about her body. She will undoubtedly cringe at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will be. Tell her that you’re a man (duh) so you haven’t actually experienced for yourself the changes that puberty brings for a girl, but you know what they are and this is what will happen. (I’m assuming you know these things. If not, it’s all online for you to read about. You have to be able to talk to her in a way that reassures her that you know what you’re talking about.) When you’re done talking with her about how her body will change, let her know that these changes will necessitate some things you’ve just never had to know, like how to use a tampon or how to wear a bra, but you’re going to learn these things together. Then you’re going to have to be creative. Hopefully, your daughter has a doctor she sees regularly, so he or she (or a physician assistant or nurse) can talk with her (and you) about how to use tampons. Perhaps a sympathetic saleswoman in a nearby department store can talk to you both about fitting her for a bra. You don’t have to know all this stuff; she just has to see that you’re not daunted by it and you have a plan to find out the things you don’t know. A lot of being a parent is creating the illusion for our kids that we know what we’re doing. If they only knew!
I am a senior in college. I have a couple of roommates who are good friends – this is the third year we’ve lived together. We’re all women.
A couple of weeks ago the parents of one of my roommates were visiting. I’ve met them briefly before and they seemed nice. I know my roommate gets along with them very well. Well, on this visit, her father hit on me. It was nothing explicitly sexual, but there was no ambiguity in the message either. He didn’t leave himself any room to claim it was a misunderstanding. I was shocked, flustered, stammered something, and left the room.
I was really upset about this at first, but now I’m just angry. He is a very successful and charismatic man, and I imagine he’s used to getting his way. My roommate kind of idolizes him and I feel so bad for her that this guy she thinks is so great is such a jerk. Should I tell her what happened? I am so sick of guys like him thinking they can just do whatever they want and have whatever they want with no one calling them on it or making them own up to their behavior.
As appalling as your roommate’s father sounds, I don’t think telling her about this will strike a blow against obnoxious narcissists everywhere. More likely, it will just undermine, and possibly destroy, your friendship. Given the choice between believing you and believing Dad’s explanation that you must have misunderstood something he said and maybe his little girl is living with someone who’s a just a wee bit crazy, who do you think she’ll believe? I agree that it’s galling these selfish, self-absorbed men feel like they can get away with anything (because they so often do), but the most I would advise you to do is let him know exactly how you feel about him should he have the temerity to hit on you again.
What do you do when you know a colleague could use some support or encouragement, but you only know because there’s no privacy in the workplace? I work in an open office environment where everyone can hear everyone else’s phone calls because we’re all in cubes or even just sitting together at tables. There’s one woman I don’t really know but she seems nice and I feel sorry for her. She frequently takes phone calls that consist of her trying to mollify or reason with someone who sounds just awful. Her half of the conversation usually consists of her apologizing or listening for long stretches to what I assume is some kind of rant. More than once, she’s hung up with tears in her eyes. I don’t want to butt in or make her uncomfortable with the thought that everyone is eavesdropping, but I want to let her know that I couldn’t help but overhear her and ask her if there’s anything I can do to help. Is that too nosy, though?
Couldn’t Help But Overhear
There’s a lot here you don’t know: maybe she’s talking to an abusive partner; maybe she’s dealing with a mentally ill parent; maybe she has a sibling or child who takes advantage of her. One thing you do know, though, is that these conversations are upsetting for her. So why not start just by getting to know her a little better? Go out to lunch or go for a walk and give her a chance to open up. As you get to know her, she can decide if she wants to confide in you or not. There’s a chance that these conversations are upsetting while they’re happening, but she doesn’t want to think or talk about them when they’re over. Spending some time with her will let her decide how much she wants to share.
John is a middle-aged family man from Providence, Rhode Island. If you learn from your mistakes, he’s brilliant. Write to him at [email protected].
Related Slideshow: 10 New England Wine Getaways
Newport Vineyards is the perfect Rhode Island destination for wine lovers year round. Visit the winery this weekend for tastings and tours, featuring an array of award winning wines. The winery even has a convenient “Wine Bus;” a shuttle bus that is available to provide transportation to groups or individuals to the winery from downtown Newport.
909 E Main Road, Middletown, RI. (401) 848-5161.
Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineya
Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton is much more than just a winery—it is a place to get away from the stresses of life and indulge your senses, a place to try new things, a place to focus on you. The vineyard is open every day, and invites you to come for a tasting and tour. Try their Petite Red, Vidal Blanc, and many more of their distinctive wines.
162 W Main Road, Little Compton, RI. (401) 635-8486.
Visit Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth to sample their estate grown and produced wine, made in small batches. While at the estate, try seven different wines and keep the wine glass for only $12. While you are tasting, take in the gorgeous views of both the vineyard and river. Besides tasting the wines, Greenvale also invites customers to tour the winery and learn about the history and process of winemaking at the vineyard.
582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI. (401) 847-3777.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards
For a trip to a vineyard that includes much more than just wine, hop over the border to Ledyard, CT, to check out Maugle Sierra Vineyards. The vineyard hosts live music on Fridays and Sundays to compliment your wine tasting experience. Pack a dinner or light fare and enjoy a tasting session in the Sierra Room while you take in the sunset.
825 Colonel Ledyard Highway, Ledyard, CT. (860) 464-2987.
Nickle Creek Vineyards
Nickle Creek Vineyard is a family owned and operated Rhode Island wine treasure. The winery, located in Foster, makes it their mission to handcraft the most unique, high quality wines in the business. All wines are created in small batches, giving them a distinctly unique taste. This weekend, visit their tasting room to try their variety of wines. On your way out, be sure to pick up a bottle of Foster Nights to get you through those chilly New England evenings.
12 King Road, Foster, RI. (401) 369-3694.
Nashoba Valley Winery
Take the bite off the winter chill this weekend and take a drive to Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton. The winery hosts tasting events everyday from 10am-4:30pm For $5, receive a free tasting glass and samples of up to five different wines. Some favorites include Strawberry Rhubarb Wine, Holiday Special Cranberry Apple (a new release in November 2013), and New English Cider. If you are in the mood for something other than wine (if that’s possible), check out their beer selection as well!
100 Wattaquadock Hill Road, Bolton, MA. (978) 779-5521.
Bishop’s Orchards Winery
The wines from Bishop’s Orchards Winery and Farm Market in Guilford, CT, have won over 179 medals since the winery opened in 2005. The tasting room at Bishop’s is open seven days a week year round, so no time is off-limits for wine tasting. Head over on the weekend to enjoy a winery tour pre or post tasting session. While visiting the winery, also be sure to check out the market for fresh baked goodies.
1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT. (203) 453-2338.
Diamond Hill Vineyards
For a cool twist on classic wine labels, look no further than Diamond Hill Vineyard in Cumberland. At Diamond Hill, you can get custom designed wine labels perfect for any occasion. If you’re interested in tasting the wines, visit their elegant tasting room for samples of their high quality wines such as Cranberry Apple, Estate Pinot Noir, or Blackberry.
3145 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland, RI. (401) 333-2751.
Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery
Tucked away on the southern coast of Massachusetts, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, located about an hour’s drive from Worcester, is worth the trip. For only $10, you can take home a special edition etched wine glass and enjoy a tasting of up to six of their award-winning wines. While the tasting room is open Monday-Saturday, free winery tours are also offered to the public every Saturday from 1-3pm.
417 Hixbridge Rd, Westport, MA. (508) 636-3423.
Found on the southern Massachusetts coast about 30 minutes outside of Providence, is Travessia Winery in New Bedford. This micro-winery puts a twist on traditional wine culture with its cool urban flair. Travessia is open for sales and tastings Wednesday-Sunday, and invites customers to come in and enjoy their unique variety of wines.
760 Purchase Street, New Bedford, MA. (774) 929-6534.
- Dear John: Bad Dad Wants Back Into Their Lives
- Dear John: Friend’s Affair Has Him Feeling Guilty
- Dear John: Is My Dentist Drinking on the Job?
- Dear John: My Best Friend’s Visiting and My Boyfriend Can’t Wait
- Dear John: My Wife Is Obsessed With Photos Of Her First Wedding
- Dear John: She Wants Him All To Herself
- Dear John: Boyfriend’s Sexy Talk A Total Turnoff
- Dear John: Grossed Out By Her Coworker
- Dear John: Is She Just Not Good Enough For Him? Is Anyone?
- Dear John: My Boyfriend Grosses Me Out!
- Dear John: My Wife Is Trying To Save Her Childhood Home
- Dear John: She Wants Him To Have An Affair
- Dear John: Coveted By The Neighbor’s Husband
- Dear John: He May Not Like His Ex, But His Mom Still Does
- Dear John: Is The Problem The Nude Neighbor? Or The Nosy Ones?
- Dear John: My Boyfriend Is A Pathological Slob
- Dear John: Okay To Date Your Ex’s Sibling? Depends On The Sibling
- Dear John: Ungrateful Birthday Boyfriends
- Dear John: The Truth Comes Out – He’s A Liar
- Dear John: Daughter’s Nude Photos Not Welcome in Family Album
- Dear John: Her Grooming Calls For An Air-Clearing
- Dear John: Is Thirteen Too Young For Sexy Underwear?
- Dear John: My Boyfriend Overshares Our Intimate Details
- Dear John: Pro Golfer Wants To Play Her
- Dear John: Weird Things Men Do When They Think They’re Alone
- Dear John: A Divorce of Convenience
- Dear John: Divorce May End The Marriage But Not The Problems
- Dear John: Hey Neighbor, Stop Leaving Nasty Notes on My Car!
- Dear John: It Feels Too Right To Be Wrong
- Dear John: My Boyfriend is Bad at Sex
- Dear John: Quit Trying To Set Me Up
- Dear John: When The Only Sex Is Drunk Sex
- Dear John: Agreeing To Marry - Disagreeing About Sex
- Dear John: Do I Really Want An ‘Escort’ For My 26th Birthday?
- Dear John: I Think My Boss Is Having An Affair
- Dear John: Living – And Loving – On Borrowed Time?
- Dear John: My Father-In-Law Is Trying To Date My Friends
- Dear John: Remaining A Couple Will Require A Third Person
- Dear John: An Affair To Forget
- Dear John: Ending An Affair Much Harder Than Starting It
- Dear John: I’m A 27-Year-Old Virgin
- Dear John: Make Love, Not Noise
- Dear John: My Husband’s Knitting Is Out Of Control
- Dear John: Seeing Baby’s Birth Kills His Sex Drive
- Dear John: Another Dad Gave My Son ‘The Talk’ Before I Could
- Dear John: Expressing Anger Through Sex. Or No Sex, Actually.
- Dear John: Is He Creepy? Or Just Determined?
- Dear John: Midlife Boredom: How Do I Get Excited About Life Again?
- Dear John: My Mother-In-Law Is Sex Offender Paranoid
- Dear John: Sharing Her Mouth With Her Dog