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.