When your child becomes a teenager, the dynamics of your relationship changes dramatically, so you need to evolve and become a different kind of role model. He will be mixing with a wide variety of individuals independently of you and it is important that you remain consistent in how you behave towards him. ‘Work hard … play hard’, is a very important philosophy you need to get through to your teenager, and to do this, you must lead by example.
As he will be trying new things during these years and following your example (where it suits him of course) try to avoid doing anything to excess yourself. While he needs to understand that he can enjoy himself, this must be linked to working hard, particularly at school. Therefore, he needs to see the example of ‘normal acceptable behaviour’ coming from his father.
It is vitally important that your child feels he can still communicate with you openly while he is a teenager. So this will be one of your biggest challenges during the next few years. So keeping all lines of communication open between you both is vital, and will influence strongly how your relationship with him develops. However difficult and awkward the subject is, you can never have a ‘bad conversation’ with your child, only a good one, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. With all the challenges facing him during this period of his life, this is where you will really benefit from the investment in time and effort you made with him during his earlier years.
It is during that period where you have laid the foundations, to allow you to stay connected during the extremely challenging times ahead of you. Your child is still very vulnerable when he is a teenager, but he neither believes nor realises this, and he will get sick of hearing you telling him this. He will be rebellious and very difficult to manage at times, so, your role really is to guide him through this stage of his life. Don’t worry, he will come out the other side, every child does, and hopefully with a sense of independence and respect for you, his mother, as well as other people. He will need this sense of value and perspective when he becomes an adult.
The relationship between a father and his children is one of the two most important links in the whole of society. The other one of course is between a mother and her child. The dynamic and contribution of you, as a father with your children, underpins the whole fabric of society.
You may be unsure how to act when your child is born, or if your relationship with your child’s mother breaks down at some point, you may feel you have failed as a father. Well you haven’t, and you remain one of the two most important people in your child’s life. Whatever the circumstances you find yourself in, never give up on your role as a dad.
So many ills in society can be traced back to problems in the family unit, and in particular to poor fatherhood skills, or even an absentee father. So whatever your situation, you must continue to have a strong, loving and guiding influence on your child throughout his entire childhood. Of course, if his mother really loves him, which she does, she will allow you to be the best father possible, even if you don’t live under the same roof.
A close and loving dynamic will benefit everyone. You, your partner, society in general, and most of all, your child. If you are going to get the most out of being a father, you have to be prepared to take on all the varying tasks it involves, however mundane or interesting, in every aspect of your child’s life. If you do this, it will be the most rewarding thing that you have ever experienced, and will set your child up beautifully to go out into the world and make his own mark in it.
Do your children find you boring? If so, and you will know whether they do, you have to ask yourself why! There is always a risk that parents lose the ability to remain relevant to their children as they are growing up. This becomes particularly acute when your child becomes a teenager. So, the question is, how do you avoid this? Can you avoid it, or is it inevitable?
The answer is yes of course you can avoid this! It just takes effort and commitment, and a real desire on your part. The key to remaining relevant and avoiding becoming boring is to stay interested in what your children do, and become tolerant of their developing tastes.
This isn’t always easy, as their tastes in clothes, music, films and friends can be so different from yours. But you have to try, because if they perceive you as being boring and uninterested in what they do, they will stop communicating with you. The moment they do this, you will become irrelevant to their lives and just a peripheral figure floating around the edge of their existence!
This is to be avoided at all costs, as your children need you perhaps more than at any time in their lives when they become teenagers, as their points of reference are changing so quickly. You become the constant, but you have to adapt with them. But it is possible, so never give up trying …..