5 Parenting Tips from a Seasoned Dad – 3 of 5 series
Talk to Your Teen About the Hard Stuff
Part 3 of 5!
The Back Story: Prompted by an invitation to write a blog post for a fathers’ theme series, I decided to ask my own adult children about their experiences of his parenting. This series if 5 Tips From a Seasoned Dad is based on that event.
Would you like to know what your children will think about your parenting in 10 years? I know.
My wife and I have four children, three girls, one boy – two hers, two mine – all from previous marriages. They are all four healthy, employed and not living in our house. Yes, I am the most successful Dad on the planet.
Last year, in the time between Mother’s day and Father’s Day (also known as the demilitarized parental zone), I wrote an email to the children and asked the question:
“What are 3 things you (or someone you know – wink, wink) wish your ‘dad’ had talked more about or helped you with? What in your growing up years would you wish more of from your dad? Oh, and I need this by Friday!”
Interestingly enough, all four of my adult children responded. From their feedback, I’ve compiled a list of 5 Tips For Parents to Consider. We started with #1 – I wish Dad had talked more about his childhood and relationship with his family, and #2- I’m glad my dad showed me simple car maintenance and now turn to #3…
3. More “hard stuff” talks.
All four of them wished for more of the “hard stuff” talks: sex, relationships, self-esteem, and God. I lump all of those together because they are hard talks to have. These are demanding talks to have. I’m never certain who is more uncomfortable with them, us or the children. What teen EVER wants to discuss sex with their parents? Yet, the evidence here (at least with my kids) seems to say they do value our input. So plan for and do have the big, uncomfortable, educational, unspoken talk about that thing with them.
Truth is, it isn’t really just about having a ‘talk’ at all. Yes, we do need to teach our children about God, sex and relationships. They need intentional instruction, talks – but mostly, they need us to establish a relationship with them where they know they can ask questions and get loving and supportive answers. One of my children actually wished for short cuts, “life hacks” he calls them, to be able to know how to avoid misunderstandings and mistakes. While we may be able to share some seasoned tools (see #2 in last week’s post) there really are no short cuts to growing older or wiser.
One more thing. I have bad news for you, dads. No matter what you try (and you MUST try) you’ll likely get this same response from your child 10 years from now. We all seem to feel this way about our journey from childhood to adulthood. No matter what we learn, we will still have tough days in these ‘hard talk’ areas. Most of the friction that makes life movement possible falls into these categories. Give them all you’ve got and all they will take, but know that they will still have their own struggles. Life is simply hard, sometimes and we don’t always know what we need until we stumble without it.
The list moves on with an interesting 4th Parenting Tip next week when we will explore the all time greatest need of parenting!
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