raising a girl

The Challenges of Raising a Girl

Early one morning when my daughter was around three years old she got out of bed to use the bathroom. My wife and I were asleep but were woken up when she came out of the bathroom crying. It was the type of loud cry where you think your child just lost a limb. We got up quickly and ran to find out what was wrong. The reason for the outburst? Her shoes were in the bathroom instead of the shoe basket where they belong. I was reminded of that story this past week after my daughter attended a week-long day camp. When one of the women who worked there saw her upset she asked my daughter why she was crying. My daughter responded through tears, “I don’t know. Sometimes I just cry.”

If you are a person who prays, please remember me. We haven’t even reached puberty and my daughter’s emotions are already through the roof. Raising a girl is challenging. As a dad, it can be difficult to understand what a girl goes through as she grows up. While each girl is unique and different, here are some of the common challenges of raising a daughter.

The Drama

When emotions run deep it can easily turn into over-sensitivity and hurt feelings. Any logic or proper perspective gives way to disproportionate responses, inconsistent behavior, and thick tension. It can be like having an exposed nerve in the house. The more daughters the more drama there tends to be. It takes patience and empathy. The best thing to do is try to understand her, no matter how crazy she may seem. If you have a daughter consistently surrounded by drama, chances are high she is drawn to it. Girls who are drawn to drama will create it when everything is peaceful. She needs to learn how to manage those desires and channel them into something positive. She could work a job or volunteer at a place where she has to help resolve a situation where emotions tend to be high. That way she gets her desire for drama fed and can live drama-free among her friends and family.

Mean Girls

No one is more vicious to girls than other girls. They rip each other apart. It’s a toxic environment filled with insults, snide remarks, body shaming, passive aggressiveness, and talking behind each other’s backs. We need to teach them how to step back, figure out what is happening below the surface, forgive, seek forgiveness, and reconcile. Too many parents heighten the emotion by just jumping to their child’s defense. They need our support, but they need help seeing the situation objectively in order to make the relationship right. One teenage girl admitted to me that she would be irrational and needed her dad to be rational for her.

Being Sexualized

From the earliest age, she sees images of women in the media telling her what she should be. Those images and what our culture lifts up as lovable has a powerful impact on our girls. By the time our daughters are twelve, or perhaps younger, they are conditioned to believe they need to portray a sexual image or risk being invisible. [Tweet This] What they really want at their core is to be loved. Our girls need to be reminded where their value comes from and it should definitely not come from my next point.

Finding Value From Guys

Most young girls mistake attention for love. They try to display anything that receives attention from guys rather than being their beautiful authentic selves. Protect her from herself. Set expectations about what she can wear and post on social media. Talk to her about what she is communicating through her image and give her insight into the guy’s perspective. Ask her questions about how she feels about herself and reinforce why she is lovable.


Body changes and the emotions are just a part of why a daughter in puberty is challenging. However, more so is when your relationship enters into an awkward place. All of a sudden they go from daddy’s little girl to feeling weird around us. It hurts when they pull away or don’t want to be seen with us anymore. The good news is that it tends to just be a phase. It may be a painful few years, but sooner or later she’ll come back.

Sound Off

What has been the most challenging thing about raising a girl for you?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Mark W Streeter

    Thank you for this valuable input. My daughter turns twelve in a week. In a matter of a year the changes in her moods, outlook, and overall worry about how she looks have eclipsed her core values as she enters her journey into becoming a young lady. I’m learning to take “baby” steps with her and feeding her small amounts of information to remind her about what is really important in life such as respect, honesty, and loyalty. I started out trying to give her too much information and was accused of lecturing her as she proceeded to cry. So, I too am learning how to navigate these uncharted waters, as I have been reminded of my own virtues; patience being one of them.

    • BJ_Foster

      Thanks Mark! It’s definitely tempting to try and unload as much knowledge as possible and having it come off like a lecture. That’s something I am learning as well.

  • Paul Kelley

    I have a baby girl with three older brothers! I have quickly learned girls are different. She is so cute, but can be so sassy without even knowing how to talk yet. Thanks for the article. I have friends with older girls who have begun to “warn” me about the emotions and mood changes. I whole heartedly believe as long as we are giving are all to being a good dad and showing her by examples what a good man is, she’ll be alright.

    • BJ_Foster

      Thanks Paul! The poor future guy who shows up to take your daughter on a date. Looks like she’ll have a number of protectors. She’s fortunate to have them and you as a dad looking out for her.

  • JimmiJaymz Brown

    Wow !!! All good information. I’m a Dad raising a 13yr old. Her mother passed away in 2012. I must admit it has been very challenging, especially for her. I don’t want to sound selfish but very challenging for me as well. There are just some things that a man will not be able to connect with..

    • BJ_Foster

      I’m sorry to hear about her passing JimmiJaymz. You don’t sound selfish at all. That sounds very challenging. Your daughter is fortunate to have a dad like you. Way to step up to the plate!

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