Understanding My Teenager And Communicating With Her.

There exists huge amounts of social pressure on teens today and the opinions of their friends become extremely important. But they still need help and support to build and maintain healthy friendships. I cannot stress the importance of developing a good parent teen relationship, staying connected and especially paying attention to them. Continuing to be a role model, the person they look up to a reliable parent. I am not suggesting becoming their friend just remaining their parent.

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.”
Arnold H. Glasow

Friendships are a necessary support group for teenagers. They provide a sense belonging and a feeling of value which in turn assists in building confidence. Teens will not always ask parents for information as in some cases they may find it all too embarrassing, for example puberty and what they are experiencing physically and emotionally. Friendships are a good source of information and provide emotional support a sense of security and comfort with others going through the same experiences. For many teens the teen years is where they develop relationships with the opposite sex and romantic and sexual relationships are experienced.

As the transision from child to teen begins it is very normal for teenagers to spend more time alone and with their friends. Essentially this translates to them spending less time with family. Many parents fret about this and fear these intense friendships will become more valuable than the family unit. This is not unusual and if you cast your mamory back and are honest with yourself your behaviour was the same.

Fear not your child, now a teen, still needs you and as they get older and mature you may even need them and who knows they may offer you support. As parents it is important to encourage friendship amoung teens, but it is also very important to know who your teen is friends with and have open conversations about the different relationships with your teen. Encourage your son or daughter to be a good friend there are a few ways that this can be done and the life long benefit is that it will stand to your child for future years in how they develop relationships.

Sometimes young people do not realise that all friendships are not forever. People change over their lifetime and friends that your child is close to now, might not be the friendships they have in years to come. The occasional fallout between friends is natural. Help them navigate through conflict. Show respect to others and they should be respectful to you!

“I tell my child, if I seem obsessed to always know where you’ve been, it is because my DNA will be found at the scene.”
Robert Brault

As a parent there is nothing worse then making the tough decisions and suddenly becoming the “bad person”. Perhaps being told how much they hate you and how you are ruining their life and followed of by the slamming of doors and then to top it off, picture without sound. It is not our job to be our child’s friend. Our job is far more complicated than that. Children and especially adolescents need limits they crave boundaries and structure. And as teenagers they most definitely need a healthy separation from their parents. Our job is to teach our children and when and they will disobey dish out consequences. If you become their friend it is impossible to lay down the law and be respected by your teen. If you have treated your teen as a friend you will create confusion and they will believe that their power is equal to yours.

As our children grow up they strive to learn where they fit in and what is their place in the world, it is our job to guide and give them the time and space to grow into each phase developing to the next stage. Treating them as a peer/friend will not allow them to be kids.

Just Being A Single Dad

The 14th December 2004 and the 28th of August 2010 were the best days of my life. I always wanted children, Im not sure whether this desire was more fuelled in me because I was adopted or it just is part of my make-up. I must admit my first choice was always daughters and I am lucky enough to have my wishes come true. I was worried if I had sons I might be too hard on them and what if they didn’t live up to my expectations as a man. This is absolutely absurd obviously. However it does raise another point when contrasting the difference between Mum’s and Dad’s, we think differently and our behaviour is very different. As adults we tend to forget this and certainly in a relationship are less forgiving to one another.

Little angels

Being a Dad has brought me so much joy and I am learning (in real time) how quickly my daughters grow up and change as they progress through the different stages of adolescence. I also have learned what applies to one child does not necessarily apply to the other. I have a collection of very different hats that I put on during the course of any given day, and on occasion I have managed to wear the wrong hat and by God I suffer the consequences. Despite the bruises and damaged ego I frequently receive whilst raising my daughters, it is the best job I have ever had and the most personal rewarding. I am not naive to think my daughters will praise me when they reach 18 and shower me with admiration for the outstanding work I did. No, by then I am sure another younger man (full of zits, attitude and a six pack) will occupy their attention. I am secretly dreading this day, the day I am replaced and kicked to touch. I try to motivate myself that when that does happen it will signify what a fantastic job I did. What a load of xxxx! I won’t be brought out on shopping excursions like their Mum, my contribution may only be the money to pay for it. 

According to a poll, Dad is a pushover at home, apart from when it comes down to dealing with bad behaviour. I fully agree with this finding, except now that I am a single Dad. One of the hardest things of being a separated/divorced is you have to be both Mum and Dad when the children are with you. As a male my biggest fault was lack of patience, I had to work on that and I still do. Finding the balance took some time, although my girls would probable disagree with that statement. I tend to let the first misdemeanour go, if it happens again, I then explain why its not acceptable and if it happens for a third time, well let’s just say there is trouble which brings consequences. The follow through can be difficult if I don’t have the support of their Mum, then I find my girls get either confused or want to stay with their Mum for the easy life. I can only hope my consistency will earn me the respect of my daughters when they get older, time will tell. Age plays an important part of this, this was never an issue until the teenage years. 

There isn’t enough time for me to write about the teenage years and I am only at age 15. Pouting lips, fake tan, hair, nails, oh my god the list goes on. Oh and that look of Dad you are stupid! Yes, I am and never was a young woman but I continue to try to understand. I ensured there was a pretty little type of case prepared in her school bag in the event her first period arrived with all the necessary accessories for such a catastrophe. Thankfully that did not happen and even better news for me and her it happened when she was with Mum. I have been lucky enough to be trusted with hosting the pre-disco event in my house. This is when a group of teenagers take over the house, lock themselves into the bedroom and toilet, spend hours getting dressed, applying make-up, doing each others hair, listening to loud music and probable giving out about me. My role is to order pizza, drop off to disco and collect whilst remaining invisible and holding absolutely no opinion! Thank goodness I won’t be available for menopause!

Some time ago

As my daughters evolve into fantastic young women and travel through each phase, and I know I have tougher challenges speeding towards me, I embrace all of them, even the ones that I don’t understand as a Dad. I longed to have children and in some way it has and continues to make me complete. The rewards heavily outweigh the sacrifices for me. Unlike Mum’s I cannot give birth, breastfeed and a whole heap more things that make Mum’s so unique. Byt, this single Dad tries so hard to be the complete parent and loves his children so much even when the tough decisions have to be made. I am living in the moment and each day get reminded the true meaning of unconditional love. Being a Dad has taken me to the edge on occasion, but made me stronger and certainly more patient. Of course I fear for what the future holds and change comes with time but one thing is true I will always be there for my daughters. They don’t know this but they have fulfilled a big void in my life and I will spend a lifetime repaying them!