Dads, you are all so very important and your kids are actually influenced by what you say and do with them far more than you may believe. I want to share with you an email we received from a single dad who, inspired by my book For Parents Only, initiated an important conversation with his 13 year old daughter about some of the subjects in the book.
He writes ….
“I wanted to share with you a paper that my 13 year old daughter wrote after we had discussed some of your book “For Parents Only.” I had asked her opinion on some of the things and we just had a great open-ended conversation. Next thing I know she’s gathered papers and starts writing. She says she’s doing it for her journalism class at school, but I could see a drive that was in her eyes. I will copy her paper here. I was impressed and a very proud dad.”
“World of a Teen” by Emily
Being a teen is something that you will remember for the rest of your life. It’s not only a time when you figure out who you are, but also where you’re fighting your parents for authority, and struggling for independence and freedom. In today’s society acceptance is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. When in reality, some of these topics and percentages will shock you.
Freedom, Freedom, and more freedom; it’s a very debatable topic depending on if you were talking to a child versus adult. Teens crave it, it’s something that they need. Freedom for teenagers can be interpreted in many ways such as choosing “the perfect hair color”, a sleepover, having your own car, and a later curfew. But it’s the parent’s decision when to give it, and how they would like their kids to receive it. Like my previous principal said “with freedom comes responsibility.” This is a very true statement. A lot of parents don’t trust their kids enough to keep up the responsibility of freedom, so the decision is made. No freedom.
Now I bring you to a VERY debatable topic: independence. Independence is a way for all teenagers to feel self-confident. It also means that you aren’t being just [Insert Parent’s Name here]’s son/daughter. It makes the teens feel like an established individual. When teenagers are finally given the independence to do things such as what to wear, when they want to get a haircut and how they want it cut, when is a good time to do homework and actually get it done, who and who does not get to come to one’s birthday party. Things like that, that they weren’t able to decide by themselves on.
Acceptance and fitting in is something that you go through in middle school, it’s very tough. But picking the right or wrong groups can change your life forever. Have you ever heard someone say “But everyone else is doing it!” ? I know that I have! It’s truly amazing how a teen thinks and cares so much about appearance and looks. Peer acceptance is the degree to which a child or adolescent is socially accepted by peers. It includes the level of peer popularity and the ease with which a child or adolescent can initiate and maintain satisfactory peer relationships. When you’re a teenager things like race, physical attractiveness, even disabilities affect social acceptance. Children who are peer-accepted or popular have fewer problems in middle and high school, and teens who are peer-accepted have fewer emotional and social adjustment problems as adults. Kids who aren’t Peer-accepted may be shy or assertive, but they often have well-developed communication skills.
It can be challenging to initiate a conversation with our teens – especially with any meaningful content. Maybe taking a peek at how this dad started the conversation with his daughter will give you some ideas for starting a conversation with your teen about responsible freedom. If you haven’t read For Parents Only, you might be intrigued by the addictive and powerful control freedom has over your teens, and how you can parent in light of that influence. Dads, I encourage you to take the lead and initiate these very important conversations with your teen. I’ve put together a short article, Talking to Your Teen, to help you get started. Happy Father’s Day!