Raising Daughters: My Three Biggest Parenting SurprisesChallenges

As I have mentioned in the past, I am the father of two beautiful girls (ages 9 and 4). And, I would not trade them for anything in the world. However, there are days when being their dad can be challenging and even somewhat frustrating.

One of the biggest reasons for this is the fact I was pretty much unprepared for some of the challenges that have popped up, both because I grew up in a family of boys and because, while the issues themselves weren't completely unexpected, they happened much sooner than my wife and I thought they would. In fact, I was caught completely by surprised by three of those challenges.

First, the hormones kick in much sooner than expected. Even my wife was caught off guard by our oldest daughter's mood swings which, as we later learned, were related to her approaching her pre-teen years. One moment, she loves us. The next moment she hates us. And, I won't even go into the subject of boys. While this is something we knew would come eventually, we weren't expecting it for at least a couple more years.

Second, body image becomes important early on. Our oldest daughter (who we think needs to eat more) has already been inquiring about calories and how many she can eat without becoming fat. And both girls are already trying to steal their mother's makeup. This, of course, has led to plenty of conversations about how beautiful they already are and the dangers of starving themselves. Again, we knew this would likely happen one day. But, again, we also weren't expecting this to happen until they were teenagers.

Last, it's really hard to find positive role models. This probably would be the case if we were raising boys too. But, this is something we have struggled with a bit. Our oldest daughter, for example, used to love Miley Cyrus and now we can't even let her watch one of her concerts. We've had similar experiences with other celebrities. Yes, they have other positive people, like teachers, their mom, the older girls they ice skate with, etc. But, both of my daughters are at an age where celebrities are much more interesting.

As I said before, I wouldn't trade my daughters for anything and, even if I had known I would have to face these challenges, would have still chosen to be a dad. However, had I known some of these things ahead of time, I think I also would have been better prepared.