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Dads2Dads: How to get closer to your teenager

jfelkins • Nov 1, 2015 at 6:00 PM

Both conditions will require hard work. At a certain age, a teenager does not want to be touched by dad. Junior might tolerate a quick pat on the back, but try to get close enough to be in reach of your daughter and you’ll risk her wrath and rejection all at once.

There are subtle ways to lessen the distance between dad and his progeny, but they require planning and finesse. While we have not always been successful ourselves when faced with this challenge, we have also stumbled upon some tactics that gradually have resulted in progress. We’ll share a few ideas with you with one disclaimer: They may not work.

Stay in the background

Get involved in some indirect way. If your child plays sports, you might volunteer to be a scorekeeper, a secondary coach or just be in charge of distributing the energy drinks. These activities keep you somewhat close without being in the way, without running the risk of hovering over your child. Too, this gives your son or daughter the opportunity to see you being interested, contributing your time to their world.

The reverse can work as well, Dad. If you’re involved in a bowling league, a softball team or a golf outing, explore the possibility of your son or daughter keeping score or officiating or serving as a caddy (maybe not for you but for your boss, minister attorney, doctor or friend). This invitation draws your child closer in a fun and active way.

Behind the scenes

Is your teen involved in music, theater, science or other pursuits? As a parent who is interested in helping the teacher, director or project adviser, volunteer to distribute publicity posters, pass out fliers, sell tickets or set up tables and chairs. You will be supporting your child while maintaining your distance. When the event is in progress, take pictures or shoot video and create a memory book for the group or for your son or daughter.

They will thank you

Call a “family summit.” Bring the family together at a popular restaurant or around a picnic table and ask “happy” questions of your kids. When were you the happiest last week? What are you doing next week that will make you really joyful? What can each of us do next week to increase the family’s “happy quotient”? No need to discuss heavy issues. Keep it light.

Kids want to appear free and independent. Both of us, however, have since been told by our sons and daughters how much they appreciated our interest and participation when they were younger, cooler and would never say such a thing out loud.

Tom Tozer and Bill Black are authors of “Dads2Dads: Tools for Raising Teenagers.” Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @dads2dadsllc. They are available for workshops. Contact them at [email protected].

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