Tweens Pre Teens

Being a father and having gone through the hardest part of the terrible teens with my daughter, I can offer the following from experience :

Always avoid discussing conduct in a negative tone. By using phrases such as “you can’t”, “you won’t”, etc…, you are not only closing the lines of communication, but also laying the groundwork for rebellion. If you must discuss ground rules for behavior or allowing more freedoms, I have found it to be much more beneficial to ask, “what are possible outcomes of this decision?”, “what do you want most to accomplish?”, or “Is staying out on a school night really in your best interest?”. This line of questioning has a few valuable side effects. First, it demonstrates that you are open to the possibilities. Second, you are willing to discuss an alternative course. Finally, you have demonstrated that you have your daughter’s best interest in mind and are not putting what you want first.

In rules of dating, I have always been old fashioned (and I’m still in my thirties as I write this). My one rule, however, has always been, “If he’s worth dating, he won’t be afraid of letting me have a chance to know him as well.” You have to give her and yourself trust that she has been taught enough values to make a wise decision. You are there as a safety net, but not a chaperon. Let her come to you with questions, but keep it a two way street. Ask her what is on her mind. Don’t be afraid to find out her opinion about situations that will creep into your mind. Especially with teenagers, tell the truth. If there is something that makes you uncomfortable, think about it and not only tell her what is making you uncomfortable about her relationship, but also why it makes you uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to make you miserable, but she does want to find out what life has to offer. She also wants to find out what she wants. If you can remember the confusion of your teenage years, this should make perfect sense.

It may not be easy if you are a father reading this, but stay engaged in your daughter’s interests. Yes, she probably doesn’t want you tagging along with her and her friends, but she does want you in her life. Keep tabs on what she has interests in and don’t be shy to point out that there is a sale on ice skates, reserve the next book in her favorite series, or craft something in line with one of her interests. Little reminders will make a difference in how much distance get placed between you.

In all, teens have to face that they are no longer children. Now is the time that she must take her family lessons and put them to the test. She will also have become her own decision maker and need the opportunity to make more of them on her own. By relegating yourself to resource instead of overseer, you will do her a lot of good and she will appreciate and respect you more for it.