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: Spring and Summer Music Festivals
Boston Calling Music Festival
City Hall Plaza
Boston Calling Music Festival is a three-day, two-stage festival featuring some of the biggest and best acts in live music. The event will be one big party with easy access to both stages, food, services and more. All ages are welcome and children under 10 are free.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Death Cab for Cutie
Tegan & Sara
Built to Spill
Walk Off The Earth
Kurt Vile and the Violators
Strange Creek Campout
Presented by the Wormtown Trading Company, the Strange Creek Campout features live music, on-site camping, disc golf, yoga, a holistic village, and the Strangers Helping Strangers Food Drive.
Max Creek (2 Shows)
Zach Deputy (2 Shows)
Donna the Buffalo
Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band
Consider the Source
Roots on the River
Bellows Falls, VT
Roots on the River is an annual roots music festival featuring 23 sets, 7 shows, 6 venues over 4 days.
Poor Old Shine
Heather Maloney Band
The Meadows Brothers
Leominster Starburst Festival
June 14 (Rain Date June 15)
For a free music festival in Central Massachusetts, check out Leominster’s Starburst, hosted by the Leominster Cultural Council. Everyone in your family will enjoy this day of music and fun, topped off with a firework show in the evening.
Paulie's New Orleans Jazz & Blues Festival
Now entering its seventh year, the mission of Paulie's New Orleans Jazz & Blues Festival is to provide quality New Orleans & Louisiana jazz, blues, country, funk & zydeco music & food within an urban setting.
Roomful of Blues
Honey Island Swamp Band
Little Freddie King
Mem Shannon & The Membership
Bobby Patlauf Band
Big Al Carson & The Blues Masters
Eric Lindell & The Sunliners
New Bedford Folk Festival
New Bedford Whaling National Park
New Bedford, MA
The New Bedford Folk Festival brings together over 70 renowned and emerging folk performers and 90 juried arts and crafts vendors in New Bedford's authentic historic district during the first weekend in July.
Christine Lavin with Don White
Poor Old Shine
Green River Festival
Greenfield Community College
The Green River Festival is a premier Pioneer Valley Music event that takes place every July. The event attracts national talent, the great local food and fine crafts, and even hot air balloons.
Puss'N'Boots Featuring Norah Jones
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
Hurray for the Riff Raff
Trampled by Turtles
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin & The Guilty Ones
The Lone Bellow
James Hunter Six
Poor Old Shine
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
North Atlantic Blues Festival
The North Atlantic Blues Festival is an annual two-day blues music festival featuring national blues performers and considered one of the most prestigious on the East Coast.
Joe Louis Walker
In Layman Terms
The Mannish Boys
The Golden State lone Star Review
Lowell Folk Festival
One of the largest free folk festivals in the country, the Lowell Folk Festival attracts thousands of people over three days. The event features traditional music, food, crafts and good vibes.
The Pine Leaf Boys – Cajun
Bud Hundenski & the Corsairs – Polka
James Kelly, Donna Long, & Sean Keane – Irish
Kevin Doyle – Irish Step Dance
Marquise Knox – Blues
Seichi Tanaka & the San Francisco Taiko Dojo – Taiko Dojo Drums
Nikki D & the Browns – Sacred Steel Gospel
Sonny Burgess & the Legendary Pacers – Rockabilly
Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers – Bluegrass
Samba Mapangala & Orchestre Virunga – East African Rumba
E.U. – Go Go
Hassan Hakmoun – Moroccan Gnawa
Seizmos Band – Greek
Thomas Maupin, Daniel Rothwell, & Overall Creek with Kory Posey – Appalchian Buck
Gathering of the Vibes
July 31 - August 3
Gathering of the Vibes is an annual music, arts and camping festival now in its 19th year. Vibes has grown into a four-day festival that has featured such world-class talent as Crosby, Stills and Nash; all original members of the Grateful Dead; the Allman Brothers Band; Jane's Addiction; James Brown; the Black Crowes; Buddy Guy; Elvis Costello; George Clinton and P-Funk; Bruce Hornsby; Les Claypool; and many, many more big names, while continuing to showcase extraordinarily talented, young, up-and-coming bands to the 20 thousand people who attend each year.
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros
Deep Banana Blackout
Newport Folk Festival
July 25- 27
Fort Adams State Park
Folk music has been a presence in Newport since 1959, when the Newport Folk Festival was founded by George Wein. Backed by board members Pete Seeger, Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, and Albert Grossman, the Festival became renowned for introducing a number of performers who went on to become major stars, most notably Joan Baez (who appeared as an unannounced guest of Bob Gibson in 1959), and Bob Dylan, whose first Newport appearance, as a guest of Joan Baez in 1963, is generally regarded as his premiere national performance.
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Band of Horses
Kurt Vile and the Violators
Sun Kill Moon
The Devil Makes Three
Puss N Boots
Newport Jazz Festival
Fort Adams State Park
Established in 1954, the Newport Jazz Festival begins its 60th year this August, one week after its sister event, the Newport Folk Festival, takes place. The first event was originally billed as "First Annual American Jazz Festival" and featured many notable jazz musicians, including Billie Holiday.
Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
David Sanborn & Joey DeFrancesco
George Wein & Newport All-Stars
Dee Dee Bridgewater - To Billie With Love
Peacham Acoustic Music Festival
The Peacham Acoustic Music Festival is also a blend of the old and the new - roots music from the Celtic traditions, old time fiddle tunes, and a touch of blues and bluegrass - not to mention The Dance. Smoke and alcohol free.
Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing
Alan Greenleaf & The Doctor
The Bayley-Hazen Boys
Plus many more to be announced…
The White Mountain Boogie & Blues Festival
Sugar Shack Campground
Entering it's 18th year, the Boogie and Blues Festival features award-winning blues artists, food vendors, craft vendors, a climbing wall, and many fun activities for children --including Saturday night fireworks.
Moreland & Arbuckle
Plus many more to be announced…
The 17th Annual Rythym&Roots Festival features award-winning roots music artists on the Main Stage and at two big tented dance floors, plus intimate one-of-a-kind workshops and kids activities.
Featuring The Duhks as the featured host band
2014 Artist Lineup Announcements Coming Soon
- Dear John: Agreeing To Marry - Disagreeing About Sex
- Dear John: Bad Dad Wants Back Into Their Lives
- Dear John: Child’s Birth Causes Death of Sex Life
- Dear John: Dating Game Turns Into Waiting Game
- Dear John: Divorce May End The Marriage But Not The Problems
- Dear John: Friend’s Affair Has Him Feeling Guilty
- Dear John: Haunted By A Hook-Up
- Dear John: He’s Not Homophobic; He’s Boring-Phobic
- Dear John: His Low Libido is Bringing Her Down
- Dear John: Is My Dentist Drinking on the Job?
- Dear John: I’ve Changed…Really!
- Dear John: Love Her, Hate Her Kids
- Dear John: Modern Parenting at Odds With Old-Fashioned Grandparenting
- Dear John: My Co-Worker Makes Me Feel Dirty
- Dear John: Never Leave Your Computer Unattended
- Dear John: Playdate Playmate
- Dear John: Right Thing. Wrong Reason.
- Dear John: She Wants Him To Have An Affair
- Dear John: Sorry, Wrong Number
- Dear John: The Gynecologist Next Door
- Dear John: Unwelcome Contact
- Dear John: Will Boyfriend’s Solitary Pleasures Lead To Pain?
- Best of Dear John: Size Matters, Nanny Lust + More
- Dear John: An Affair To Forget
- Dear John: Beach Wear Barely There
- Dear John: Compromising Positions
- Dear John: Dating That’s All in the Family
- Dear John: Do I Really Want An ‘Escort’ For My 26th Birthday?
- Dear John: Friend’s Drunk Boyfriend Gets Kissy
- Dear John: Haunted By Hook-Up At His Kid’s School’s Drop-Off
- Dear John: He’s Old Enough to Be Her Dad
- Dear John: How Will Boyfriend React To Her Diagnosis?
- Dear John: Is Neighbor a Cat Burglar?
- Dear John: Keep Your Pants On
- Dear John: Love Her, Hate Her Rhode Island Accent
- Dear John: Mom’s Friend Is His, Too
- Dear John: My Father-In-Law Is Trying To Date My Friends
- Dear John: No Affair. And Maybe No Friendship.
- Dear John: Pro Golfer Wants To Play Her
- Dear John: Roommate Moves In
- Dear John: She’s Not Fit To Be Tied
- Dear John: Spreading the Word About STDs
- Dear John: The Truth Comes Out – He’s A Liar
- Dear John: Weird Things Men Do When They Think They’re Alone
- Dear John: Will His Old Man Be Hers Too?
- Dear John: “Guys Weekend” Had More Girls, Fewer Clothes
- Dear John: An Ex With an Imagination
- Dear John: Beds Are For Sleeping
- Dear John: Condoms Pose Barrier for Relationship
- Dear John: Daughter’s Nude Photos Not Welcome in Family Album
- Dear John: Does He Have a Secret Life?
- Dear John: Getting Girlfriend’s Son Off the Couch
- Dear John: He Hates It When I Cry
- Dear John: He’s Tolerant. Kind of.
- Dear John: I Like Him. He Likes Porn.
- Dear John: Is She Just Not Good Enough For Him? Is Anyone?
- Dear John: Let Sleeping Cats Lie?
- Dear John: Love When You Least Expect It
- Dear John: Mom’s Outfits Not Fit to Wear Out
- Dear John: My Husband’s Knitting Is Out Of Control
- Dear John: Nosy Coworker Smells Booze
- Dear John: Pros and Cons
- Dear John: Schoolgirl Crush
- Dear John: Should I Tell My Roommate Her Dad’s a Lech?
- Dear John: Suffering for Art
- Dear John: There’s No Pleasing Her
- Dear John: What’s Wrong With This Picture?
- Dear John: Will Making Her Feel Awful Make Him Feel Better?
- Dear John: A Clean Break With a Messy Past
- Dear John: An Inflexible Girlfriend
- Dear John: Boyfriend’s Sexy Talk A Total Turnoff
- Dear John: Wingmanning is Getting Old
- Dear John: Dear Diary? Not At All.
- Dear John: Downcast Colleague
- Dear John: Getting Pestered to Pose
- Dear John: He Likes to Watch. Us.
- Dear John: Help Wanted
- Dear John: I Think My Boss Is Having An Affair
- Dear John: Is The Problem The Nude Neighbor? Or The Nosy Ones?
- Dear John: Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. And Lying Dogs Sleep.
- Dear John: Love-Hate Relationship
- Dear John: My Best Friend’s Visiting and My Boyfriend Can’t Wait
- Dear John: My Mother-In-Law Is Sex Offender Paranoid
- Dear John: Nothing to Hide. Except That.
- Dear John: Psychic Warfare
- Dear John: Sex, Lies, and SD Cards
- Dear John: Should She Be His Sugar-Mama?
- Dear John: Swearing Her Love
- Dear John: They’re Opposites, But Will They Attract?
- Dear John: When “I Do” Becomes “I Don’t Anymore”
- Dear John: Will Third Time Be Charm for Cursed Relationship?
- Dear John: A Distant Boyfriend. Geographically. And Emotionally.
- Dear John: An Unimpressive Affair
- Dear John: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (Like, Really Hard)
- Dear John: Coveted By The Neighbor’s Husband
- Dear John: Dear Old Obnoxious Dad
- Dear John: Ending An Affair Much Harder Than Starting It
- Dear John: Girlfriend Tired of Second Place
- Dear John: He May Not Like His Ex, But His Mom Still Does
- Dear John: Her Grooming Calls For An Air-Clearing