Dad, does the thought of getting involved in your teen’s life scare you? As a father, do you think that maybe you should just back off and let your teen child have his or her independence?
It’s true that teens are exploring their independence and may seem to shut you out, but research indicates that backing off is not a good approach. Involved dads can have twice the positive influence on their teens as involved moms (who are also important). That’s something to think about!
The point is, as a teen, your child still needs dad time. It will just look a bit different than it did when your child was a little boy or girl. Now that you have a young woman/young man under your roof, your involvement will take different forms.
Here are some tips for how you can get that involvement with your teen.
How you respond to your teen – especially his or her emotions – is considered important. Teens are known for their “drama,” especially teen girls. Sources recommend that you not get “sucked in” to the drama, exacerbating it by an equally dramatic response. Instead, it’s recommended that you keep a level head and stay calm, thereby helping to diffuse the situation.
If you have to walk away temporarily, that’s okay – maybe have a script, like, “I need to get my thoughts together. I will get back with you on this.” Then you can go and calm yourself down before interacting anymore. This also sets a good example for your teen. He or she might also decide to walk away from an emotional situation to gather his or her thoughts before reacting.
Avoid Pushing Your Teen Away
Most of us automatically blame the teen in the home when there is disengagement and tension between teens and dads. But it’s a good idea to stop and take stock of the attitude you, the dad, are projecting. Are you snappish, tense, critical, and distant? Are you quiet and focused? Maybe you are a joker and tend to laugh everything off.
Teens are sensitive, so any of these attitudes can be off-putting to a teen. So take a good hard look at your demeanor – ask others (including your teen) how you come across – and make a point not to project attitudes that push teens away.
Participate in Activities Together
You can still plan activities with your teen son or daughter; it’s just different than it was in grade school. Here are some ideas.
- Mountain biking is an action-oriented activity that dads can enjoy with teen sons or daughters.
- Hiking and camping are other age-appropriate things to do with either gender.
- Take your daughter out for lunch and a shopping trip, maybe to find a gift for someone else.
- Sons and daughters alike can benefit from Dad helping them learn to drive.
- Don’t forget household projects. Teens can help fix things around the house, wash cars, do yard work, paint the house, and so forth. Make it a “together” thing rather than you the dad just telling them to do it.
- Cookouts are fun for both genders, too. Sons and daughters can contribute in their own way.
- Spontaneous walks and rides are other great ways to spend time together. Just walk out the door, jump on the bike or in the car, and go wherever the road leads you.
Dad, keeping yourself involved in parenting your teen isn’t really as hard as it may seem at first. The key is to keep working at it. Your teen still needs you and will need you for a very long time. Use some of the suggestions and ideas here to get started today!