“How can I be a father figure to my girlfriend's daughter?”
Dear Annie,My girlfriend and I have a promising relationship. She is the mother of a 15-year-old daughter who has no "father figure" in her life. The mom has expressed a need for me to develop that kind of relationship with her daughter. This girl is a great kid. She is active, healthy, smart, outgoing and funny. She is no trouble to her mom and they have a great relationship. I am very willing to be a good male role model for her but I am completely inexperienced at parenting. Her mother and I like the idea of this "family." Do you know of any resources for childless men who find themselves in my position?
I appreciate your eagerness to play an active role in this girl's life. I'm sure her mom is very happy about the potential positive influence you could have. It's especially important for a teen girl to feel respected and appreciated for who she is. Too often the message young girls get from the media and from males is that their worth is tied up in their physical appearance. So I think it's terrific that you want to provide her with reinforcement for her inner qualities. Bravo!
I have to say, though, that I'm a bit concerned about something. You say this is a "promising" relationship. That doesn't sound like you and the girl's mom have been together very long. If this relationship is relatively new then what you're discussing is premature. It makes little sense to become actively involved as a "father figure" to her daughter. Not if this isn't for real. As well intentioned as you are, you can do real emotional damage to the girl by throwing yourself whole-heartedly into the "family" thing and then disappearing after 6 months. Until you and the girl's mom have been together long enough to be getting married, I'd suggest that you let mom do the parenting and keep your relationship with the girl, warm, friendly, and limited to "close friend."