Dads2dads: Getting the brush off

Tom Tozer and Bill Black • Updated Apr 20, 2018 at 4:00 PM

This particular topic was sent in by a reader who welcomed some tips on how to respond when his children seemed to have no time for him. This is indeed a familiar theme. It ranges from feeling ignored to being dismissed to ending up invisible.

It is ironic in a way. We often hear about dads who are too busy to give their children any attention. Because of his job, social engagements or sports appointments on television, some dads just don’t seem to have space in their lives for anyone else.

Here’s a dad who wants to create the space for his children, but they are too preoccupied with the hustle-bustle as teenagers to acknowledge him. One can never be absolutely sure what the reasons are for such avoidance. However, we’ll share some musings that may apply.

Take a selfie, dad

First of all, dad, are you sure that they are brushing you off? Could it be that they are modeling your own behavior toward them. Do a self examination. Are you ready to spend time with them only when you’re ready … on your terms? Have they tried to get your attention, only to be shunned because you’re often too busy? It’s worth asking yourself the question: By seeming to ignore me, are my kids modeling my own behavior toward them?

Put a tiger 

in your tank

Second, dad, are you fun? Do you engage in any activity that might excite your teenager? Do you spend all your spare time with your buddies, those other “old guys” who like to sit for hours and fish or play poker? Would you consider taking your teenager to an action movie in the afternoon instead of working the crossword puzzle? Would you explore a local park rather than take a snooze with the family dog curled up at your feet while the game runs on the TV? Dad, your teenagers want to expend energy because they have a surplus of it. If you want them to spend time with you, you’ll need to get up and get going.

Offer to help

Third, when your teenager shifts gears to do homework or something else that requires a more sedentary posture, why not suggest that you might be able to help in some way. Could you quiz them to prepare for a test? Might you offer to help search for something on the Internet or provide shuttle service to the library? Could you serve a drink and snack to help take the sting out of sitting still? Even if your teenager doesn’t take you up on your offer, you will have already signaled that you enjoy being together. 

Dad, don’t fret if your children really seem to ignore you and look through you. In most cases, they know you’re there for them – and they want you there. You won’t be able to count the many times your teenager ignores you. It may seem like all the time. But you’ll long remember that one time when your teen truly needed you and sought you out.

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


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