Sometimes it’s easy, other times we’re talking to Godzilla. Being a father of teenagers is challenging and rewarding, but it doesn’t have to be a health hazard. Keep in mind, that most of us just want three things for their kids; To be happy; to be independent and for them to contribute. That said, we’re integral to them getting there.
We can have a fantastic relationship with our kids, but don’t fall into the trap of trying to be their best mate. They need boundaries, they yearn for them, however as teenagers, they’ll want a stake in setting them. For that to happen, our parenting style needs to become more a negotiator than a Dictator. We’re teaching them life skills around conflict resolution, developing a voice and being concise. This helps them immeasurably in their adult lives.
Negotiating allows our kids to see an argument through someone else’s eyes. Even if they don’t agree, we’re developing empathy and understanding rather than dogmatism and pigheadedness. The by-product of this is developing a loving relationship with our kids rather than dysfunction.
Attentive Dads are linked with a lower incidence of depression, suicide and lawbreaking in our youth. We’re also role-modelling for their future relationships; The way we parent, or behave towards our partner, will be acted out by them. Conversely, harsh parenting is linked to not only depression in teenagers but in fathers as well.
What Are Some Ways to Get Involved in Our Teenagers Life?
- Be there; Not right up in their grill! Just around. Sometimes being that mentor figure, for them to know that they can lean on us or ask for guidance is priceless without them even knowing it.
- Be active; Ride a bike; Go for a walk together; Shoot some hoops. If they’re not overly sporty, substitute with a hobby, board game or cards.
- Become the student; Letting our teenagers take the reins and teach us something, even if it’s just a game that they’re into, builds their confidence and assertiveness.
- Parent; Have boundaries and enforce them. The world has rules and consequences so, not exposing them to this can leave them vulnerable.
- Be a negotiator; The results will be twofold. Our relationship will be so much more pleasant; and our kids will learn skills to better equip them as young adults and future parents.
- Share passions; Talk passionately about what interests you, and listen attentively to them, it can be contagious and create new bonds for both of you.
- Spend time with them and let them know you love them; As much as they’ll call us “dags” or roll their eyes, inside, kids yearn to be loved and a hug does wonders. If you’re not “huggy” then you can still demonstrate love by being involved in their schooling, at their sporting commitments or picking them up from parties.
Someone said recently, “Did you know, that when your teenager leaves home, those childhood years represent 80% of the time that you will ever spend with them?” No, I didn’t but I do now. It’s changed how I see myself as a father, and how much I value time with my kids.
Glen and the Team
The Regional Men’s Health Initiative
delivered by Wheatbelt Men’s Health (Inc.)
PO Box 768, Northam WA 6401
Phone: 08 9690 2277