Baby Daughter Daddy
June 23, 2008 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Help me with gender disappointment. My wife and I just had an ultrasound and found out our baby will be a girl. I was hoping for a boy because I never knew / met my father. My dad was a completely absent f*ck-up. I was hoping to somehow fill that void by giving my son what I never had and teaching him the things I had to learn on my own. I know I will be overjoyed when my daughter is born, but right now, I am feeling quite sad. What is a good way to look at this, and what can I look forward to with having a girl
posted by jasondigitized to Human Relations (68 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Your baby girl will be a person just like a baby son would have been. She'll need to learn things, too. She'll need advice from her father, just as a boy would. She'll have scraped knees for you to bandage, she'll need you to check under the bed for monsters, and she'll someday in the future need Big Advice about what to do with the rest of her life, just like a boy would have.

Sure, you won't have to show her how to shave, but you should be able to easily see the vast number of things she will need you to teach her. Focus on those. She's going to need you just as much as any child would.
posted by Ms. Saint at 8:42 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

I can imagine this is disappointing and you will no doubt need to grieve for your dream. But look to the future...

Teach your daughter to be strong and independent. Teach her to do all the things men teach their sons to do, with the exception of shaving and the like. (And don't assume she wouldn't be interested in watching you shave -- I was fascinated as a little girl.) Raise a daughter who is confident, secure in her body image and full of ambition. Help her change light bulbs, work on the car, patch drywall and more. Encourage her to pursue a career that will provide her and her family with a good income while balancing her life goals and interests. Build a woman who can develop relationships with men because she wants to do so and not because she has no choice. Teach her that you will love and respect her, even if she breaks up with a guy. Help her find good information on sex and birth control. Help her find a partner who will be engaged, supportive and egalitarian.

You have an opportunity to influence generations of women and men. Just by investing in a girl. The value is no less. The impact is no less. But the potential is there. Embrace it.
posted by acoutu at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2008 [42 favorites]

Remember that girls need their dads just as much as boys do. They may have some needs that are different, but the need is there just the same. My own parents divorced when I was very young, and then he moved away, so I saw my own dad infrequently. He now has a daughter, and they have a great relationship. I can see that she has benefited from having her dad around to be a positive male role model in her life. I'm pretty sure she won't have some of them insecurities I had (and still have).
posted by DrGirlfriend at 8:46 AM on June 23, 2008

You say you're disappointed, but you don't really explain why.

The fact that you had an unsatisfactory relationship with your dad and would like to give your son what you never had is not, on the face of it, an explanation -- why not just channel that feeling toward giving your daughter what you never had? I don't see the difference.

Try putting your disappointment into words. If you're not finding the words to explain it, that suggests there's not a real problem. If you do find the words, then you've gotten closer to confronting what's really bothering you.
posted by jejune at 8:48 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ultrasounds are not infallible. That being said, you can look forward to idolizing her the instant you lay eyes on her, for one thing. In turn, she will idolize you right back. Dads and daughters have a mysterious, special bond. You are the yardstick by which all boys and men will be measured in her life. Ask any Dad. You are a lucky man.

Congratulations! Go out and buy her a baseball mitt.
posted by iconomy at 8:49 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

1. In terms of proving yourself, life tends to be harder and more dangerous for girls. Being a good father to a girl will be a challenge.

2. Give yourself a second to adjust. Once you start thinking about how to care for and raise a daughter, you will start forgetting the expectation you had and start focusing on surviving a future where there are two of "them" and one of you in the house.
posted by ewkpates at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2008

I secretly wanted a boy too but the moment my daughter popped out, all bets were off. She has no care of what or who came before her, bad or good, and it was easy to start with a clean slate. If my experience is any indication, you won't care the moment you see her lovely little face.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

This old AskMe thread came along while I was waiting for my own daughter to be born, and I still go back and re-read the answers sometimes.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2008

You're going to gain a special understanding of women, while redefining your role as a man. That's a huge, positive thing.

And you guys can also try again :)
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2008

On delivery day and every day going forward the sex of your child will be completely irrelevant. The life you bring into this world will completely engulf you (in a great way of course) and "boy or girl" will be thrown from the window.
You're already on the right track with wanting to be there to teach and support, rest assured you'll still have that opportunity.
Father daughter dances, first date, heart ache - her daddy will be there.
posted by doorsfan at 8:54 AM on June 23, 2008

You will be the man in her life that will give her the blueprint for how to find a mate, how to be treated by one, and how to raise sons and daughters of her own one day. You will be there to help her make good decisions in life, so that she doesn't bring some douchebag home that will leave her to raise kids alone and struggle with how to be a role model for both sexes. You may find out its the job you were cut out to do, regardless of your original, naive* idea of what your dream job was.

*Not suggesting you are naive. Not trying to pass judgment either. Other than to say your dad was a douche.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:55 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

I was hoping to somehow fill that void by giving my DAUGHTER what I never had and teaching HER the things I had to learn on my own.

There ya go.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 8:56 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: My relationship with my dad wasn't unsatisfactory, it was non-existent, as in never laid eyes on the man. I guess this disappointment has to do with rectification, atonement, and identity as a man.
posted by jasondigitized at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2008

Both boys and girls need a loving, dedicated father. If it's an issue of looking forward to raising a boy, there is nothing that says you can't teach her to hit a baseball, catch a fish, pitch a tent, or any another stereotypical "boy" thing. In fact, you'd be doing her a huge favor to expand her horizons beyond dolls and playing house and all that. Not that any of that is bad, it's not. There is just no reason to limit your little girl to the stereotype. Expose her to anything and everything and she'll let you know where her passions are.
posted by COD at 8:58 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dad loves baseball. My older brother hated baseball. When I, a girl, was born he decided that I would be the one who inherited the love of baseball. So he started taking me to baseball games from the time I was four months. My point here is most of the things that you wanted to teach a son can also be taught to a daughter.
posted by bananafish at 9:03 AM on June 23, 2008 [4 favorites]

Wanna trade? I'm due in November and I'm slightly disappointed that we're having a boy.

I bet a lot of people will chastise you for having a preference. The American mindset nowadays is "as long as it is healthy" unless, of course, a family has 3 boys and is "trying for a girl" or something like that.

I'm spending my pregnancy in a country where boys are extremely preferred. (Multigenerational families - oldest son takes over parents' household when he marries. Without a son, you're sorta screwed for support in old age.) Every day I hear "I am praying that your child is a boy" "I hope it is a boy" and then I tell them that the sonogram showed it was a boy and I hear "Hoorah! It is a boy" and "Thank God it is a boy." (Yesterday I was at a church and a grandmother gave me an extra candy because it is a boy.)

And so I have really been thinking a lot about this gender question.

To open up the honest box, why am I bummed about a boy? Cuz I am a woman and I had a sister, so I don't have a clue about boys. Also, as far as I understand, boys are sort of gross (farting, barfing, playing in dirt, playing with worms and bugs, etc.). Boys are also, to the best of my knowledge, not sweet. But what I am most stressed out about is that the child that I hope for (sensitive, smart, curious, love of reading, sweet) seems to be in some conflict with what society wants a boy to be (strong, tough, a little macho). I have always felt sad for men that there is so much pressure to be more masculine. If I had been me growing up and was a boy, I might have gotten my ass kicked daily.

I know that you asked for the upside to having a girl, but I hope that the downside to having a boy helps you think about this too.

I am now trying to think more positively about a boy. One major perk - his dad will probably have an easier time with a boy than a girl. Also, allegedly boys are "easier" or "simpler." (I am hearing this from the same people who prefers boys so...)
posted by k8t at 9:07 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Dads and daughters have a mysterious, special bond. You are the yardstick by which all boys and men will be measured in her life. Ask any Dad.

This is very true; my sister took my father's death several years ago far harder than either my brother or I, although all of us had a good relationship with him.

On a more personal level I have a 3 year old daughter, and I have never for a second wished she was a son. Her face lights up when I walk in the door after work and it is like nothing else in the world for sheer happiness. So far there is nothing we do together that is that much different from what I would do with a son; we go swimming, throw the ball/frisbee/whatever, play silly toddler board games (over and over and over), read books (over and over and over). Although with a son I probably would not have had the ballet recital; but that was cute and fun too. I wonder if your sadness comes from your memories rather than what the future holds; in this day and age there should be very little a boy would do that a daughter can't do. Whether a son or daughter your child will grow up to be their own person eventually, and if you can accept who they are from birth you can avoid at least some of the heartache that being a parent will eventually bring.

Go out and buy her a baseball mitt.

Believe it or not, my wife actually bought our daughter a ball and glove before she could even walk. I laughed and pointed out that fathers were supposed to do that sort of thing. I do, however look forward to cleaning the guns when her teenage dates come to pick her up. That is the sort of experience sons don't typically provide.
posted by TedW at 9:07 AM on June 23, 2008

Recognize that this grief is not about your daughter -- it's about your father. So devote some time and energy into mourning him directly. Write him a letter and burn it; hold an imaginary funeral; throw his picture into the ocean. Consider a short-term course of therapy focused on exploring and expressing your grief and rage at having had such a crappy dad.

Then work on envisioning and creating the father you want to be. Write about your idea of a good father. Talk with close friends who are good dads. Read books with strong father figures in them. Creatively express your desire to be a good dad in whatever way is natural to you: build a cradle, make a collage, write a song.

And congratulations! Your daughter is already lucky to have you, and she doesn't even know it yet.
posted by ottereroticist at 9:12 AM on June 23, 2008 [9 favorites]

has to do with rectification, atonement, and identity as a man

Well, "rectification" and "atonement" are just abstractions, which aren't gender-specific.
posted by jejune at 9:16 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My friend, my daughter is 2 yrs, 2 months, 2 weeks and 5 days old today. I have a son, a wife, excellent parents, pets that I love deeply, and even a scary unnatural love for my ford mustangs. I have had a job I loved, and I love kayaking in the Gulf of Mexico, I'm a hard-core chocoholic, I've done pot, acid and shrooms. I have had some pretty extreme feelings and experiences.
I HAVE NEVER FELT ANYTHING like the LOVE I feel for my baby GIRL!
By nature, I'm not normally excessively emotionally demonstative, I was happy with my one son, so I thought (secretly) another kid would be a burden to our limited incomes and small house. I was braced and almost dreading the arrival of another kid of any gender. You are not going to believe how much you are going to Love your daughter. Even if it's not right off the bat, it's going to sneak up on you and find the spot you keep all your highest, most positive feelings and inflate that place to dimensions you cannot comprehend from your perspective today. when she looks at you and giggles for the first time, you may have to change your definition for the phrase "rock your world" I was even dead set, and I mean DEAD SET on making sure she was a tomboy and a tough chick. She was going to wear her brothers hand me down over alls and jeans and tee shirts. Uh uh, now me, Mr. Antifashion, has somehow discovered he has an eye for the prettiest dresses and what shoes go with them. Even mom agrees. I don't know you and you don't know me, but manly man to manly man... brace yourself brother, for a Love you've never felt before, no matter your preconceptions.
posted by Redhush at 9:25 AM on June 23, 2008 [16 favorites]

One of the things I love about my dad is that he never treated me as a fragile girl who could only do girly things. I grew up with two brothers and I got to do all the same things they did, if I wanted to: baseball games, fishing, pocket knives, car maintenance, computer repairs, etc. As such, I ended up a football loving, do-it-herself kinda girl working in a male dominated industry (programming). So try to keep in mind that having a girl does not necessarily mean you will be forced to endure My Little Ponies and pink dresses forever.

Plus, for most girls, their dad is their hero and the man they compare every other man in their life to. Who doesn't want to try to live up to that? Congratulations :)
posted by geeky at 9:27 AM on June 23, 2008 [3 favorites]

I had a strange bias towards wanting a boy first too, and I am so glad I didn't get my wish. It's my opinion that girls totally melt your heart and make you a different father in the future for when you do/may have a boy (I have a girl and a boy now.) There's something amazingly special about both of them, but I love that I had a girl first, I just completely fell in love and it opened a door in my heart that I didn't even know existed.

For my friends that have girls first, I see a difference in their fathering. So look forward to that, and know that it might make you a better dad to your eventual boy.
posted by visual mechanic at 9:32 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

You don't get to pick your child any more than they get to pick you as a parent.

I wanted girls - I grew up in a Y chromosome heavy family and wanted the experience of more X. I got that with my first. My second I got a boy. I was disappointed and I didn't fall in love with him immediately as I did with my daughter, but I did. You will too. Accept her for what she is, not for what she isn't.
posted by plinth at 9:37 AM on June 23, 2008

My father didn't have a dad, either, and he was the best dad ever. He adored all three of his children (one boy, two girls) and I'd say it's a credit to him that my brother is a great father to his daughter.

Convoluted way of saying, you're going to be fine.

But I do sort of understand your disappointment. We didn't find out what we were having, but we knew we were having three of the same (identical triplets). So I knew whatever I got was going to be it - no more kids. And we have three adorable boys. I still get pangs when I realize I'll never get to raise a daughter, but in the end, it doesn't matter. Like my boys will adore me, your daughter will worship you.

posted by pyjammy at 9:38 AM on June 23, 2008

I'm trying very hard to empathize here but it's tough.

I haven't spoken to my own father in four years and while he was involved in my life as a child, it was not to the extent that it should have been.

I've spent many years in therapy ... not to mention languishing in a host of bad relationships ... trying to satiate my daddy hunger. Please don't put your child, your flesh and blood, boy or girl, through this.

There are so many things a little girl needs to learn from her father: how to love and accept love, how a man in a caring, loving, responsible relationship treats the woman in his life, how to be strong when it's necessary and a bit vulnerable too. I dare say she will need you as much as your son ... maybe more.

What can you expect from having a girl child? A whole lot of love ... and some craziness too. But you would also get that with a boy.

Congratulations to you and your wife for having had an ultrasound that shows you two have a baby coming into your lives.

If you find that you are still experiencing some disappointment once your daughter actually arrives, I suggest you get yourself to a therapist quickly. You do not want your daughter to ever have any inkling that you felt anything more than pure, unmitigated joy at her arrival. And believe me, if you don't feel that way, she will know.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 9:39 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

Father of a daughter and a son. Girls rule, boys drool.

Seriously, though...."what can I look forward to with having a girl?" The same thing you would look forward to if you were having a boy - being the best parent you can be.
posted by tom_g at 9:46 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Talk to women you know and respect about their fathers.
While you are at it, you might try talking to some of their fathers.
posted by Good Brain at 9:50 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll just pile on here since everyone has already said to just go ahead and do all the same stuff you were thinking about for a boy.

One thing you can look forward to with a girl that perhaps you have not thought about is breaking down gender barriers and stereotypes.
posted by mikepop at 10:05 AM on June 23, 2008

Forgot to add, recommended listening: When I Was A Boy
posted by mikepop at 10:09 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Make sure you get rid of any sexist assumptions you might have in the back of your mind.

Raise her to be someone who is compassionate, wise, and intelligent, and can do anything she wants to, whether it is being a physician, a scientist, or the President of the United States.

- a female undergraduate science student who is going to get her PhD in about six years
posted by kldickson at 10:10 AM on June 23, 2008

Emphasis on the wise and intelligent.
posted by kldickson at 10:10 AM on June 23, 2008

Compassion is necessary, of course, but she isn't going to get anywhere without brains and wisdom. Which too few people of both sexes have.
posted by kldickson at 10:11 AM on June 23, 2008

Umm, dude, your wife is preggers. The last thing she needs is for you to get all hormonal. That will not help her out in the LEAST. Man up. You are having a child.

What were you going to teach your son that you can't teach your daughter? Seriously...what?

Also, I think a girl who can do kung-fu and throw a fastball is WAY cooler than a Roger Clemens and Chuck Norris. EVEN CHUCK NORRIS!!!

Good luck, man up, and think of your wife. She's probably overjoyed that its HEALTHY, and you're just raining on her parade.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:14 AM on June 23, 2008

Making up for your own dad not being there is some heavy stuff for a kid to have to carry, even if he doesn't know that you're doing it. Having a girl means you can just treat her like a daughter instead of a second-chance at something. It sounds alot more healthy.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:37 PM on June 23 [+] [!]

23skidoo has it right. Don't saddle your experience of parenthood with baggage from your childhood. Parenting is not about making up for what you didn't get. Your children will never be able to comprehend what you are trying to make up for- and in the meantime you will be distracted from getting to know who they really are/ what they really need. I say this as much to myself as I do to you.
posted by mistsandrain at 10:16 AM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Congratulations, jasondigitized!

You're disappointed now. You're being theoretical now. The ballgame changes when your baby arrive--and, with luck, your thinking stops centering on how to make up for your own childhood and starts focusing on how to shape your daughter's childhood.

You come with your own set of baggage about "rectification, atonement, and identity as a man" but there's a lot of baggage that you DON'T carry, which gives you a unique opportunity to invent your relationship with your daughter. Ask friends, read books, watch the people around you and take the things you want to about parenting. Figure out what will work for you and go for it.

You don't have to know everything right away, either. It will come with time. The first year is pretty much about meeting a child's base-level needs anyhow -- feeding, changing, cuddling -- so you'll have a chance to find out what this baby, with her factory-equipped temperament, needs from you.

The question isn't what flavor of kid you get. It's what kind of a father will you be. Just be good enough for your particular child and you'll both be fine.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:16 AM on June 23, 2008

I think I get this.

My father had a similar relationship with his mother (none) and he couldn't help but see his daughters through the lens of his relationship with his mother.

You might think how much calmer it will be as a first-time parent without the need to involve "rectification, atonement, and identity as a man."

You can just relax for now and learn how to be a parent.

posted by sondrialiac at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the great advice. Now feeling a lot better.
posted by jasondigitized at 10:24 AM on June 23, 2008

i'm guessing the reason you wanted a boy was because subconsciously you are probably trying to "one-up" your deadbeat dad.

that may take some therapy to get ahold of.

but, in the short term, just remember, you can also be a great role model for your daughter. my father was much more MY role model in life than my mother ever was (and she wasn't a deadbeat or anything). it's just that today's gender norms are really closing in on each other, and i think you will find that while your relationship will be fundamentally different from that with a son, you will still be able to fill 90% of the role you want to play with your daughter. you won't teach her how to shave, but you can and should involve her in your interests and in your duties around the house. teach her how to throw a spiral and fix a leaky sink and all that stuff that husbands do around the house. teach her what a man should be like, and she will a) know what kind of man to seek out for a husband, or if she's gay, b) be more enlightened, well-rounded. in either case, she will be better equipped to raise sons one day if she has them.

she will totally thank you for it.
posted by thinkingwoman at 10:25 AM on June 23, 2008

Think of it this way, whether you had been a boy or a girl, the absence of a father would've hurt you -- similarly, either a boy or girl child will benefit from having you as a dad.

Nthing teaching your girl all the stuff that you imagined teaching a boy. I was an only child -- my mom taught me to cook and make beds properly, my dad taught me to use power tools and took me to baseball games.

(Bonus: when your baby girl turns 12, she and her mother will fight like cats for five years, but she'll still think you're the bees' knees.)
posted by desuetude at 10:27 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

When asked if he was disappointed when baby #2 was revealed to be a girl, my husband always responded that other than a professional baseball player, girls could be anything in the world. I think it's a great way of looking at things.

Remind yourself that you will introduce her to things that interest you. It is cool for girls to be into sports, math, science, politics, computers, etc. I doubt your daughter will have the teachers from the early 70's (like I had) who thought girls should strictly be nuns, nurses, teachers, wives, mommies (not that there is anything wrong with those professions, of course).

My 4 year old and 2 year old love to watch Jonny Quest with my husband. They love to run outside and play soccer. Other than playing princess and tea party, they typically spend most of their day doing "non-girly" things.

Best of luck! I am sure you will be a great dad.
posted by beachhead2 at 10:28 AM on June 23, 2008

When I came out a girl, back in the day of no ultrasound, my Dad ran out of the OR and cried because he really, really wanted a boy. He was also an absent father, though not as much as yours, and sometimes I do wonder if it'd been different if I were a boy.

Bottom line: girls need dads just as much.
posted by neblina_matinal at 10:41 AM on June 23, 2008

As a parent, this is the first of many, many opportunities you'll have to accept your child for who she is, not who you want him her to be. Take some time to let go of what you thought would happen, work on the issues you have with your father, and enjoy your new family.

It'll be better than you can possibly imagine.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:43 AM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

All of these comments are great! This is one of the best and supportive threads I've ever read on AskMeFi. You are a stellar group of people.

I am Dad to two girls. I live in a house of women (even our cat). My relationship with my Dad wasn't great shakes. But it didn't matter when it came to my girls. What is wonderful about being a parent is being able to see the world again through my children's eyes. And, in doing so, many of the disappointments I felt with the parenting I received, dissipated.

To be a fly on the delivery room wall, watching you take that first look at your daughter. You will melt.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 10:55 AM on June 23, 2008

I've never been a "daddy's little girl" and I adore both my parents very much. My mom's been a great role model for me career wise, so maybe I have a closer relationship with her, but lately I've remembered a couple of things that made my dad awesome:

-- Dad used to take me on "dates" when I was in elementary school. We'd get up really really early in the morning and go down to the local 24-hour diner while it was still dark. We'd hang out and just talk and eat and drink hot chocolate for an hour and then he'd take me to school.

-- When I got to middle school, during the summer Dad "hired" me as an office assistant. He taught me filing, how to use his computer, how to shake someone's hand properly, and random other stuff. I still attribute my professional handshake to him making me practice with his officemates when I was eleven. (He also taught me to drink coffee. This was an important bonding experience.)

-- Humor. I inherited Mom's feminism and ambition, but I got Dad's sense of humor. As I got older he got me watching the Marx Brothers and Mel Brooks. Every time Mom had to travel for work, we had marathons.

-- When I was little I used to want my hair french braided every night so it would be curly when I woke up in the morning. My mom was in the Air Force and got deployed to the first Gulf War for several months. Dad took it upon himself to learn how to french braid so he could do my hair every night. Looking back, I think that was incredibly sweet.

So I guess what I'm saying is, just look for the little things you can have in common or do together and go for it. These little things made me incredibly happy and they're things I'll want to do as a parent in the future. You'll make a huge difference not just on your kid as a kid, but as a future parent, because trust me, they'll pick and choose the things that were awesome and repeat them, and they will swear up and down to never do the things they hated. (Dates? Absolutely. Punishment for reading in bed? Never.) You're not just going to teach a son how to be a man; you're going to teach a blank slate child to be a cool, interesting, fun human being who will someday have to do the same thing. That's a *much* bigger deal, I think.
posted by olinerd at 11:00 AM on June 23, 2008 [10 favorites]

So, late to the thread here, but girls are great. I have one of each. The stereotype is that girls are generally easier to raise until they hit the teen years, while boys are quite energetic from day one. I won't repeat what everyone else has said but if nothing else, girls generally have better handwriting so you'll be able to read you father's day card inscription several years earlier. :)
posted by GuyZero at 11:18 AM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

As the son of a man who's father was almost non-existent, you do not have an advantage to be a better father to a son despite your motivation. Having only a biological mother while growing up will instead give you a special understanding of femininity that other men do not have, and this will be an advantage for your daughter.
posted by rhizome at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2008

There are great answers here. Just want to add: you might want to hope that by the time she's old enough to read, this post has been lost in the ether. And please never tell her (or let your wife tell her) that you really wanted a boy. No matter how much you might try to play the admission off as harmless, funny, ironic, or whatever, you'll be setting her up for a lifetime of never feeling good enough. It's not a kid's job to fill their parent's (or anyone else's) emotional holes.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:22 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

My only child is my now 18 year old daughter. Full discolsure: I can't relate to the "wanting a boy" part, becuase I wanted a girl. I'll just say this: being a daddy to a little girl is the most wonderful thing in my life. Be there for her, show interest in whatever she does, and you will be a hero for life.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:22 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Great comments above. Teach your daughter everything you would teach your son. And, hey, my brother was supposed to be a girl...
posted by Bunglegirl at 1:54 PM on June 23, 2008

Over time, you'll get over it. The person that will help you do this the most will be your daughter.

Girls play sports; girls wrestle (my daughter beats up my son on occasion, and she's unbelievably strong despite weighing far less) and run and jump and climb and in general kick ass. I love my boy, and I love my girl, and they're different people but they're both awesome.
posted by davejay at 2:03 PM on June 23, 2008

My friend, that little boy that needs the dad is you.

Become the parent you never had to yourself, and that little girl will be very very happy.

If you'll excuse me, I think I have something in my eye.
posted by toastchee at 2:03 PM on June 23, 2008 [5 favorites]

It's not a kid's job to fill their parent's (or anyone else's) emotional holes.

Can this be embellished with some lovely artwork, printed as a pamphlet, and given to every potential parent?
posted by davejay at 2:05 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ideally followed with some text about how it IS their job to do the dishes, mow the lawn, etc...
posted by davejay at 2:05 PM on June 23, 2008

We have one of each, and my husband's relationship with our daughter is in some ways stronger than his relationship with our son. To our surprise, our kids were born with personality, and she was always much more like him, as our son was more like me. So when it came to being the kid who wanted to do the kind of stuff he was interested in, going fast, outdoorsy things, even astronomy, it was our daughter. They tease each other and have a sort of boisterous relationship that is just alien to the other two of us.

It may be in your culture that there are some traditional things you can only do with a son (I'm assuming little league etc, I wouldn't know), but it will be your daughter's personality and her cultural influences (less Barbie, more Pink, sort of thing) that will shape her style and her relationship to you. Think about what it would mean if you had a son who didn't share your interests, would you think less of him as a person?

Babies are not for exploration of hobbies. Oh no. You owe that baby way way way more than she owes you. Remember it's her personality, not her gender, and that was always luck of the draw.
posted by b33j at 2:10 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, hey, one more thought: being a father to a son does not change the fact that you were a son without a father. Your chlid is no more a salve for that wound than they are the person to live the dream that you were never allowed or able to fulfill; they are separate and distinct people, not a younger version of you.

I know someone who elected to circumsize their son because they were afraid "he [would] be upset if he didn't look like his dad" -- which hints at the mistake I'm talking about, that somehow a child is an extension of the parents and will be unhappy if they cannot fully emulate their same-sex parent. The truth is, your child will initially spend tons of effort trying to be like both of you, then a huge chunk of time doing everything they can to differentiate themselves from you. In that way, you will likely end up closer to your daughter than you would ever be to a son.

What you have to offer your child is not your "guyness" or something; it's your knowledge and wisdom and compassion and patience and love. Your daughter will thrive from that as much as a son might have, and will grow to be an independent person that you can care about and be proud of. Whether your child is a boy or a girl is way, way down on the list compared to that.
posted by davejay at 2:12 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Okay, one more one more thing.

I wanted a daughter. When I found out we were having twins, I wanted two daughters. At the time, I thought it was because I wanted to try raising kick-ass girls in this guy-oriented society and all that, but it was bullshit. I realize now it was because I wasn't a happy kid, in large part because my father wasn't very happy or involved, and I was afraid my son would end up just like me.

Of course, I was wrong, not only because he's his own person as all children are (I was making the same mistake I mention above) but because I was making that mistake in the other direction, assuming that I would be just like my dad in the eyes of my son. Instead, I'm involved, happy, and love him to pieces, just like I love my daughter to bits.
posted by davejay at 2:16 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh man, girls are the best thing ever. Seriously. I have one child, who is a girl. When you see her her grow up, and she starts to wait for you at the door to get home from work, and she likes to cuddle with you, and she sees you as being bigger than the whole world, and you realize that this vulnerable, awesome, intelligent little person needs you as an influential male in her life, and you are receiving unconditional love in return, it fills a different kind of void.

If you go into it feeling as if you have the power to influence the next generation (which it sounds as if this is where your heart is at), there's a lot to be said for being able to raise a daughter with a healthy self image. As a father, your ability to speak to that in such a way that her self-perception isn't distorted by our messed up media cannot be underrated; and in my opinion, it's a need for daughters that is uniquely addressed by a healthy father figure who can model what it is to be a good man who has healthy expectations of women. The kind of guy she settles on some day will be influenced, in part, by the kind of father she has. And the kinds of lessons you wanted to pass on to a son can be passed on indirectly through your daughter, in that she won't settle for someone who will flake on your grandchildren.

Another way to think of it is that even if you can't raise a son directly (at this point), you are raising someone who may one day have sons, who need emotionally healthy mothers as well.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:20 PM on June 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

Girls play sports; girls wrestle (my daughter beats up my son on occasion, and she's unbelievably strong despite weighing far less) and run and jump and climb and in general kick ass.

I have to add this: Don't try to predict or push your daughter into anything. She will discover what she likes. My little girl happened to end up loving video games and offbeat movies, giving us plenty to have in common for social times.

Whether she is a girlygirl or a tomboy or, like my daughter, a cross between the two, the most important thing is that you will have a great time. I predict that as soon as you hold her the first time, any trace of "disappointment" will fade away and you will rise to the challenge of earning the tacky World's Best Dad t-shirt on your first father's day.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:28 PM on June 23, 2008

At the time my daughter was born, I wasn't sure I was ready to be a parent at all. Now with her entering high school, I can't imagine how my life would be anywhere nearly as good and fulfilling without her in it. Son or daughter, doesn't really matter in the end. Your child is special and will enrich your life in ways you can't begin to imagine.

And she can kick my ass at Mario Kart too. I still have the edge in FPSs though. For now...
posted by barc0001 at 3:01 PM on June 23, 2008

Hm, looks like my first post didn't get through... My suggestion was to consider adoption down the road... Plus there'd be the added benefit of raising a boy who might never have had a dad of his own at all. Of course, what everyone said about still doing your best to be a dad for your new daughter still apply...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:22 PM on June 23, 2008

Your child will not meet your pre-conceived notions. Your child will be her own person, and you will fall in love the moment you lay eyes on her, and her gender is not going to be an issue. The fact that you are aware of your preference means that you can choose to get over it. Boys are great and so are girls. Really, it will be fine.
posted by theora55 at 4:09 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

IMHO, it's probably a good thing you're having a girl. It would be unfair to a child to be born to meet your need to work out Dad issues. No baby needs an agenda, right?
You are going to love this precious little girl. And after you meet her, you will realize that the only reason you were disappointed when you learned you'd be having a girl was that you didn't know it was going to be HER!
posted by Linnee at 4:52 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm like you. But I'm a girl. No dad, never met him, killed himself when I was 6. I need(ed) and want(ed) a dad at least as much as you. At least.

I ended up being the kind of girl who doesn't want marriage, but when I was still young enough to be receiving the marriage message a lot I would cry that I didn't have a dad who would be there. When my grandfather died and now I was left with no men in my life, I locked myself in my room and cried body-shaking sobs for 2 days.

You see all those posts about how special father/daughter relationships are? It makes me hate those people. I know they're nice people, I know they're being honest, and I know they're helpful to you. But to hear those things, for me? It makes me..well, let's say I'm not not crying.

It's hard. Not having a dad. Your daughter will have one.
posted by birdie birdington at 5:14 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can be like Barack Obama's grandpa and name your daughter "Stanley" (Ann was her middle name, her first name was Stanley as you can see on Obama's birth certificate)
posted by delmoi at 5:29 PM on June 23, 2008

I was a little disappointed that I was having a girl when I had the ultrasound. I already had two sons, so it wasn't a huge deal, but I had been looking forward to "My Three Sons", and felt that being such a "non-traditional" woman, I was more suited to raising boys. All the pinky pinky princess stuff is SO not me, and I couldn't imagine doing this stuff with my unborn daughter. She's eight months old now, and while I still dread the thought of her one day liking the insipid crap I call "The Barbie Princess Pony Industrial Complex", I turned out to love having a daughter so much more than I would have thought. As others have said, once she was actually here, none of that stuff mattered. She wasn't just some little girl, she was MY little girl. I'm still struggling with trying to find baby girl clothes that are some color other than pink, but I have not regretted having a girl for a second.
posted by Shoeburyness at 8:19 PM on June 23, 2008

Think about it this way. Let's say you did have the son. And let's say you put all this effort into filling this void. Except you're filling this void by vicariously doing all the things for your son that you wish your father had done for you. Now, maybe you would end up giving your son what he wanted; maybe not. But for sure he wouldn't respond with the same level of gratitude corresponding to that void you're filling. In the same way that getting that new computer, bike, car, whatever is cool but never quite as fulfilling as what you imagined owning it would be like, you might end up disappointed with the result of your attempts to fill this void.

That could lead to resentment of your son, which is a horrible feeling to have towards one's children.

With a daughter, you can be a wonderful father without having to take this whole loaded emotional baggage into question. You can be a wonderful father not because your father wasn't a good man, but because you are.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:26 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]

k8t:... why am I bummed about a boy? Cuz I am a woman and I had a sister, so I don't have a clue about boys. Also, as far as I understand, boys are sort of gross (farting, barfing, playing in dirt, playing with worms and bugs, etc.). Boys are also, to the best of my knowledge, not sweet. But what I am most stressed out about is that the child that I hope for (sensitive, smart, curious, love of reading, sweet) seems to be in some conflict with what society wants a boy to be (strong, tough, a little macho)

I was a little disappointed when I found out that I was having a boy for pretty much the same reasons you described. I had a fantasy about raising a kick-ass, take-no-prisoners type of girl. I felt like I had no idea how to raise a boy. My dad was awesome, but it seemed like the cultural pressures on men pretty much ate him alive. How could I possibly ensure that he would have a positive sense of his own masculinity?

Then he came and I haven't looked back. He's almost two and he is the center of my world. He is a very sweet kid who has a vibrant curiosity about the world. He likes trains and trucks but he also likes purple flowers and gardening. He can be a bit overenthusiastic in his attentions to the cats, but he's learning how to be gentle. He has clued me in to the natural wonders of the world and because of him, I'm getting over my bug phobia. I've had to fight with people who tell me to discourage his clinginess & force him to be independent (fercrissakes, he's two) and that being indulgent of his desire for affection will make him gay (WTF!).

For the original poster my points are this - you are going to love this child like crazy when she comes into the world. You will be astonished by your child's selfhood - how she manages to have the stereotypical "girl" traits *and* traits that are uniquely her own. You will enjoy getting to know her and encouraging her to be exactly who she is. You will go to bat for her. You will love her with a fierceness that will shock you.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:18 AM on June 26, 2008

Please never let her know you wished she was other than she is.

My father's preference for my mother's son and his later son were knives in my heart for years because he made it all so dreadfully obvious. He still does.

Kids are not here by their own choice, so keep in your heart the truth that her existence was your choice, regardless of the gender assigned by genetic decision-making.

Other than that, there's so much good advice and love in this conversation that I've got a little tear in my eye and a HUGE heart-on for a lot of the folks in here. Awww.
posted by batmonkey at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

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