Expert Advice

4 Tips for Single Gay Dads Raising Daughters

Here are some ways to create a safe space for your daughter to discover who she is, with you by her side.

There's nothing quite like father-daughter relationships, and when it comes to single dads, your little girl likely holds a very special place in your heart. From the moment she's born, it's as if you can see every moment of her life in front of you, from her first steps to walking her down the aisle at her wedding. You'll be the first man she'll know and talk to, and you'll be her biggest example of what a loving man looks like. She'll come to you for advice on how to navigate challenges, be independent, treat others and grow into herself.

Your relationship with your daughter may be shaped by your personal history, whether you've been through a difficult divorce or breakup, you've transitioned out of a straight relationship, or you made the courageous decision to pursue surrogacy on your own. Whatever your situation is, studies have shown that children with involved fathers excel more in school and have fewer behavioral issues in adolescence.


Whether she is your first child or you're a seasoned parent, your daughter depends on you for much more than just her basic needs. One thing kids look to their parents for is empathy and personal connection.

As she grows up, your daughter will be going through a lot of changes that she'll need help navigating, such as puberty, complex emotions and her ever-changing social life. Luckily, there are a number of ways to build trust and create a safe space for her to grow and discover who she is becoming with you by her side.

Listen before offering a fix

Dads in general are pretty protective of their daughters. As her single parent, you'll be the one who makes everything better. You'll be the one to bandage up her knee when she falls off her bike and the one to check for monsters in the closet. As she gets older, that protective instinct will still exist, but it will be more and more important to learn when to just listen without intervening.

Your daughter's life will grow in complexity over time and she will have to make decisions that you can't make for her. As her body changes and her teen brain undergoes structural transitions, she'll develop self-awareness and emotional maturity, a process often accompanied by confusion and frustration. The way you respond to her emotions will impact how she learns to cope with challenges in her own life.

Try to resist the instinct to fix things right away. Oftentimes, she'll just appreciate knowing she's not going through her life alone. This realization is very important to her growth. Lending a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on does more for her than you may realize; it deepens your connection and builds trust.

This approach will also assure your daughter that her feelings are normal and valid. She may be dealing with a bully at school, her first breakup or her own self-worth, and she'll lean on you for emotional support as well as solutions.

Educate Yourself

Never underestimate the power of research. As a gay dad and a single parent, there will inevitably be certain things that you aren't an expert in. You're not alone! Find opportunities to educate yourself at every corner.

There are so many resources available to you – books, blogs like this one, informational videos, support groups, organizations and other media. These tools can help you learn how to connect with your daughter and take the pressure off yourself to do and be everything to her.

When in doubt, seek out doctors, mental health professionals, a community of other single parents, even social researchers who can give you valuable insight.

Be Fully Present and Involved

Single dads are superheroes. Juggling your job, home life and parenthood, you're probably running through your day at warp speed, likely without much rest. It's important to plan intentional time for yourself to recharge and time for you and your daughter to enjoy life together, without distractions. Have a game night, a regular movie date or an annual vacation holiday that you reserve for just the two of you.

Also, try to be fully present and actively listen during conversation or if you're attending your daughter's school play, dance recital, soccer game, piano performance or parent-teacher conference. Showing up with limited distractions or excuses will let her and her leaders know that you're dedicated to knowing and supporting her.

Your involvement also means you can be more aware of her choices in friends, interests, influences and beliefs, which can bolster your relationship even more. You don't have to be a helicopter dad, but by fostering open and honest conversation, she'll trust that you're always on her side.

Find Your Tribe

It takes a village, right? Your personal support system will make it possible for you to be there and be better for your daughter. If you need an afternoon to relax or clean up the house, don't be afraid to ask your close friends and family to help out. There are most likely a ton of people who would love to invest in your and your daughter's life.

As a single dad, there will also be conversations that your daughter needs to have that you can't relate to as well. Reach out to a female role model in her life that can tackle topics like the emotions that come with puberty, the most comfortable tampon to wear during her first period, the best birth control options for her, and dating advice from a woman's perspective.

Asking someone else to talk to her about these things doesn't mean you've stepped aside, but rather, that you've added to her list of resources and grown her support system. Make sure your daughter knows that you're willing to help her find the right person to consult about girl-specific topics if it would make her feel more comfortable and empowered as a young woman.

Being a single gay dad presents opportunities for connection and growth that are unique and unlike any other experience. You're a cherished part of her life, as she is in yours. While it can feel like foreign territory at times, you can stay close and build a strong, healthy foundation for your daughter if you stay involved and prioritize your relationship.

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Expert Advice

4 Tips for Gay Men Having "The Period" Talk with Daughters

Your experience with puberty will be different from your daughter's — it's important to do your research

Guest post by Jenny Hart

As a dad, you may be walking with your kids through puberty for the first time since you were a pre-teen! And some topics are undoubtedly easier to tackle than others. It's not uncommon, for instance, to feel overwhelmed, stressed or nervous when it comes time to talk to your daughter about menstruation.

Your daughter's experience with puberty will likely include a variety of emotions that you know about, but not in the same capacity: fear, excitement, confusion, frustration, relief and embarrassment. Many teenage girls rely on their fathers as their primary support system at home, which gives you and your partner an incredible opportunity to learn more about your child, as well as offer insight and guidance as she approaches this life change.

If you and your partner are preparing to have "the period" talk with your daughter, these 4 tips may be able to help you walk her through the basics of her first cycle:

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Expert Advice

What's It Like When You're NOT the Bio Dad to Your Baby

Lauren Mello of Circle Surrogacy breaks down some of the challenges facing the gay dad who will *not* become the biological parent.

If you're a gay couple considering surrogacy, one of the first decisions you'll need to make together is who is going to be the biological father. When it's time to create your embryos with your egg donor's eggs, you have a few choices when it comes to which dad will be providing his biology: one dad only can provide his biology, both dads can provide their biology and leave the fertilization to chance, or both dads can provide their biology and fertilize half of the embryos with each dad's sperm. Some gay dads choose this third option if they plan to have twins, or more than one baby through surrogacy.

Once embryos are created, you'll decide which embryos will be transferred into your surrogate mother. Hopefully a pregnancy results, and you'll be on your way to fatherhood!

The question is: what's is like when you're NOT the bio dad to your baby? We spoke with a few dads through surrogacy from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation, about the emotions surrounding being a bio dad...and not being one.

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Expert Advice

How to Navigate the Holidays Without Losing Your Mind

Rick Clemons gives some tips for keeping your sanity this holiday season.

The season is upon us. Regardless of what holiday you and your lovely gay dad family play homage to, this time of year can truly eat your holiday cookies if you're not careful. From demands from family and friends, to getting everything on everyone's wish lists just right, you will lose yourself and your mind if you're not keeping your little snifter of Brandy handy. Just kidding, but not kidding.

The trick to keeping your sanity, your family, and yourself in the holiday cheer without causing tears (which is easier said than done sometimes), is to give yourself some gay dad self-care. Yes, that means taking time to yourself and making sure you don't lose your Fa-la-la-la la, la-la-la la or spin out of control like a Dreidel.

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Politics

Gestational Surrogacy Legalized in New York State

The Child-Parent Security Act, which legalizes commercial surrogacy in New York State, was included in the 2020 New York State Budget signed by Governor Cuomo

Yesterday, a years-long battle about the state of compensated gestational surrogacy came to an end in New York when the Governor signed into a law the Child-Parent Security Act in the 2020 as part of the state budget.

The effort stalled last year after opponents, including several Democrats, successfully argued that the bill didn't go far enough to protect women who serve as surrogates — even though it included a surrogate "bill of rights," the first of its kind in the country, aimed at ensuring protections.

"Millions of New Yorkers need assistance building their families — people struggling with infertility, cancer survivors impacted by treatment, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," the Family Equality Council said in a statement about the victory. "For many, surrogacy is a critically important option. For others, it is the only option. Passage of the Child-Parent Security Act is a massive step forward in providing paths to parenthood for New Yorkers who use reproductive technology, and creates a 'surrogate's bill of rights' that will set a new standard for protecting surrogates nationwide."

Opponents, led by Senator Liz Krueger, had once again attempted to torpedo legalization efforts this year by introducing a second bill that would legalize surrogacy in New York, but also make it the most restrictive state in the country to do so. "A bill that complicates the legal proceedings for the parents and potentially allows them to lose their genetic child is truly unfortunate," said Sam Hyde, President of Circle Surrogacy, referencing to the bill's 8-day waiting period. He also took issue with the bills underlying assumptions about why women decide to serve as a surrogate. The added restrictions imply that "they're entering into these arrangements without full forethought and consideration of the intended parents that they're partnering with," he said.

The bill was sponsored by State Senator Brad Hoylman, an out gay man who became a father via surrogacy, and Assemblymember Amy Paulin, who has been public with her experiences with infertility.

"My husband and I had our two daughters through surrogacy," Holyman told Gay City News. "But we had to travel 3,000 miles away to California in order to do it. As a gay dad, I'm thrilled parents like us and people struggling with infertility will finally have the chance to create their own families through surrogacy here in New York."

"This law will [give intended parents] the opportunity to have a family in New York and not travel around the country, incurring exorbitant costs simply because they want to be parents," Paulin said for her part. It will "bring New York law in line with the needs of modern families."


Personal Essays by Gay Dads

Just Like Dad: Ways My Kids and I Are Alike

Joseph Sadusky recounts the ways he and his adopted sons are cut from the same cloth.

Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of excerpts from Joseph Sadusky's new book, Magic Lessons: Celebratory and Cautionary Tales about Life as a (Single, Gay, Transracially Adoptive) Dad. The book contains many stories about my life as a dad, as well as lessons learned, and we're excited to share several excerpts from the the book over the course of the next few months. Read previous installments here!

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Change the World

After Suffering a Violent Homophobic Attack, This Gay Dad Turned to Advocacy

After Rene suffered a brutal homophobic attack that left him hospitalized, he and his family have turned to advocacy to heal

Guest post written by Rene and Nejc

We are Rene (35) and Nejc (29) and we come from Slovenia, Europe. I was an avid athlete, a Judoist, but now I am an LGBT activist and Nejc is a writer, who published a gay autobiography called Prepovedano. He was also a participant in a reality show in Slovenia (Bar) and he is an LGBT activist too. Nejc and I met by a mere coincidence on Facebook, and already after the first phone call we realized that we are made for each other. Nejc and I have been together as couple almost one year. We think we have been joined by some energy, as we have both experienced a lot of bad things with previous relationships and now we wish to create and shape our common path.

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Gay Dad Life

10 of Our Most Popular Posts Featuring Single Gay Dads

Happy Single Parent's Day! To celebrate, we rounded up some of our most popular articles featuring single gay dads.

Did you know March 21st is Single Parents Day? Well now you do, and you should mark the occasion by checking out our round up of some of our most popular articles featuring single gay dads!

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