Cherish Every Maddening Moment

What do teenagers need?

Perhaps the best way to answer that question is to ask another one: What do dads need? Dads are human, too. Dads need a hug. Dads need an encouraging word. Dads need a smile, a playful nudge with an elbow, A BACK RUB!

Here’s the catch. we probably won’t get any of those things, at least not on demand. But we’re the adults here. We should dole them out generously. We should stop my teenager in his tracks and give him a hug. Yes, he will pull away, look at us in disbelief and query out loud: “Whattaya doin’, dad?” That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s their job. It is not cool to accept affection of any kind from a close family relative. Uncles and aunts can throw their arms around their nieces and nephews, squeeze and slobber all over them. Dad will be viewed as a virus if he gets within five feet. But that’s OK. Give it a whirl anyway.

Make yourself available

Now that doesn’t mean your teenager will clamor for your company or attention. Again, it’s your teenager’s job to exhibit independence and self-reliance. Be there anyway. Extend an invitation to lunch. To a ballgame. For a bike ride. For a round of Wii golf or table tennis. It’s likely that she won’t except the invitation. That’s her job—refusing parental invitations. After all, she may have anything else to do other than to hang out with dad. That’s OK. Being there is all that matters. Just being there speaks volumes.

Show interest in what your teenager is doing. We don’t mean stick your nose in his business. Just be curious. Ask about school. Inquire about the latest fad or trend. Seek your daughter’s opinion on a current hot issue. Don’t expect an immediate answer. Matter of fact, you should expect stone cold silence or perhaps an unintelligible utterance. That’s OK. Wait for awhile and be curious again. It will probably bug the heck out of your teen and perhaps bring on some kind of deep guttural protest. But your kid will know that you asked. And he or she will remember. Even be appreciative. Not that you’ll ever know it. Not that you need to know it.

Bend over backwards for your teenager.

Muster your courage and run an errand for her. Pick up after him. Turn off her bedroom light for the 11th time. Clean up the mess he left. Fill her gas tank. Close the door gently behind him. Gather her bobby pins and put them in her drawer. Remind him for the 20th time about … nearly anything! Oh we know … you’ll be on the verge of biting off your lip. You’ll hear your heart pulsating in your ears. You’ll have composed a list of sarcastic barbs to hurl. But just know that someday soon, sooner than you can imagine, you’ll peer into that empty bedroom and wish you could live even just one of those exasperating days all over again. It goes so fast. Cherish every maddening moment.


By dads2dads

Dad Can’t Help Wonder – What’s My Line?


What’s my line?

We think cue cards for dad should come with every package that comprises a teenager. We can remember getting into oral fisticuffs with our teenagers about almost anything. It didn’t matter what we said—it was misplaced, ill-timed, just plain wrong. Try as we might to offer conciliatory words as a balm to soothe our embattled relationship, our carefully chosen responses evolved into jagged edges that rubbed them every which way but right.

What’s my motivation?

With each cue card for dad that contained just the right response for every occasion, there would also be a bonus in parentheses—a stage direction. It might be something like (He spoke calmly) or (His tone was devoid of sarcasm) or (He remained silent while he crawled behind the sofa). We sometimes think we would have been a lot happier and less stressed knowing when and how to speak, how to act, look or move, how long to pause, how softly or loudly to respond and when to draw out a sentence or cut it off in midstream. Or simply when to make an exit.

It doesn’t matter if you have sons or daughters. Sometimes you feel outnumbered. Sometimes we are a powerhouse of one in our families. It is extremely challenging to know when to speak and what to say. And when we venture forth with even a syllable, we get the death-ray glare from our teenager.

Eating our words

Dad (jumping in the deep end): Well, honey, I think you ought to call your manager rather than send an e-mail.


Dad (treading water): You really ought to see the apartment before you say you want it.

Yeah, right. Wrong!

Dad (sinking fast): Your teacher will appreciate the fact that you put forth the effort regardless of how many you get wrong.

Earth to dad! Earth to dad!

Our sage advice either misses the point or the entire side of the barn.

Not even a word!

Even one-word replies wouldn’t rescue us from hot water.

Dad: Probably.

Son: That’s not what I meant, dad!

Dad: Indeed.

Son: You just can’t accept the idea that I’m 17!

Dad: Rutabaga.

Son: There you go again—I don’t know why I even brought it up!

Say it with a card

Think of the peace of mind teenager-composed cue cards would bring to the conversation.

Daughter: How can she be so stupid!

Dad (reads cue card with feeling): Because she can’t help it, light of my life. She’s been stupid all her life.

Daughter: My teacher never explains anything, and he never told us there was going to be a test today!

Dad (reads cue card with conviction): It’s obvious that your teacher received insufficient schooling, Pumpkin, and I know he didn’t tell you about the test because you would have included that in your class notes.

Daughter: Dad, I would have dried the dishes—all you had to do is ask.

Dad: (reads cue card with sugary compassion): And I didn’t want to ask you, sweetie pie, because I know you’ve had a rough day, and I didn’t want to interrupt ‘Cake Boss.’

We really think in this family drama—at least for awhile—we’re better off just playing trees.


By dads2dads