I posted this on Facebook but a friend, fellow writer, and reader felt it was worth posting as a blog entry. File this under “Life” and stream of consciousness. Feel free to share. Oh.. the picture is not her at 14 – it is from an outing few years ago.
My youngest turns 14 today. Yesterday we met my sister at the beach with the dogs. Afterward, she and I, had a late lunch/early dinner. Here is what I will share for others who are (or wish to be) fathers of daughters (or sons).
This was NOT a date! It was NOT a special occasion where I break from my routine, give up my golf game, tell the guys I can’t make it today/tonight… In fact, the opposite is true. If I am breaking from routine, the routine I am breaking is spending time with my daughter. She isn’t the imposition on my weekend – watching a football game with friends would be.
Yesterday was the norm. It was life! It was everyday! It was what I prefer to be doing at any given moment.
Last year a friend created plans for a daddy/daughter date. He wanted to have a special date night – every other week – where they dressed up and he took her out.
Personally, I have no problem with this.. But often what I see are fathers (and mothers) who seem to be largely in the periphery of their children’s lives – especially as teens. But even younger – they take them to the park and watch them play – rather than play with them.
I don’t have a secret for making the connection with your child, your teen – except for enjoying hanging out with them because it is fun to do and in believing sincerely that their ideas and what they find interesting is important.
It isn’t a sacrifice! It isn’t a drain on my time! It isn’t a labor of love or a willing burden!
I remember having my kids at the park, playing on the jungle gym, and a lady said to me, “It’s nice of you to babysit and give mom a break.” I told her, “I’m not babysitting.. I’m parenting.”
So.. as I look at 14 – and now know how to play on guitar One Direction, Katy Perry, and various songs from glee – and enjoying it – I’m reminded of how fun it is to have children in general and teenagers specifically.
Want to connect with your teen daughter/son?
- Believe that their ideas matter (they do, you know)
- Believe they are smart enough to share them with you
- Make the “other things” in life the imposition on your time. If they are not into Football on Sundays – GIVE IT UP!
- If they like a song other than your Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Freebird, etc. – this includes Justin Beiber, One Direction, or pop icon of the day – listen to their songs in the car and TUNE IN!
Just some thoughts on 14.
EXTRA: A video of Beaux catching Frisbee during the above mentioned beach trip.