Recovering Perspective

A number of fathers have told us that as the pressures build, they have a hard time maintaining balance in their lives. How do you release the pressure and regain perspective? How do you unlock a larger view for your children? How do you make sure you earn your kids’ respect without demanding it? How do you make it clear that showing respect is honoring the home, the comforts, the conveniences and the things you work hard to provide?

Steps to Recovery

Be deliberate and decisive. Make a conscious effort to separate home from work. Don’t bring work stress into your relationships at home. Sit in your car a few extra minutes. Clear your mind and focus on the importance of your family.

Be present and pay attention! While you won’t make every event, go to some important ones. Your attendance and attentiveness build closeness and enhance respect on both ends.

Be open. Let your teen know she can talk to you about anything. She may not take you up on your offer immediately, but she’ll know the door is open.

Be quiet. If your teen takes you up on your open-door policy, be a good listener. Every conversation is not a request for your opinion. Every problem is not yours to fix.

Be consistent. Explain your expectations and why they are important. Arbitrary rules turn teens off. They are much more willing to obey if they understand the reason.

Be understanding rather than judgmental. Hear your teen’s story from his or her point of view. Let your teen be an individual.

Be complimentary. Let your teen know when you’re proud of something he or she has done. “You did really well on that paper.” Punctuate it with a smile or hug.

Be encouraging. Cheer for your teen. Be positive when he or she shares hopes, dreams and ideas.

Be loving. This may be the toughest of all because we dads fall for all that macho mumbo-jumbo. It takes real toughness to be tender.

The big payoff

Ah, it seems just like yesterday! The son received a list of chores. Dad conducted inspection. Liberation came only after inspection was passed with flying colors. Some years later, Bill received this card:

Thank you for being the greatest dad and giving me those chores to do. All of your encouragement, support and guidance has made all the difference in my life, especially now as I am making the transition from dependent to being truly independent and self sufficient. I have learned so much from you and I still am. For that I am eternally grateful. I know you and mom sacrifice a lot to allow me to do things and I appreciate it so much. Maybe someday I’ll have kids and I can do the same for them.

That’s what it’s all about.


By dads2dads

Pushed to the Boiling Point

Many fathers often deal with a pressure cooker at work. Patience can grow thin and perspective can shrink. Little things get under your skin in a big way. A tolerable co-worker becomes a banshee. An inconvenience becomes a roadblock. Deadlines scream at you. The workload exceeds its weight limit. You’re no longer your cheerful, easy-to-get-along-with, lovable self.

The Dreaded Eyeroll

So when you get home, late again, and suggest that your teenager should clean up the chocolate ice cream spill on the new carpet in the upstairs bonus—the room with the new carpet that is off limits to teenagers with liquids or sticky desserts of any kind—you’re not too pleased when you get the universally loathed eyeroll. You feel steam escaping from your ears as you remove all sharp objects from your mind and try to find some perspective.

And then a cell phone goes off, and your teenager holds up a hand and announces, “I gotta take this,” bounds down the hall and disappears. You, dear dad, have been dismissed. Or is it “dissed?” Other family members quietly back away as they watch in wonderment at your meltdown. You imagine 12 members of the jury — all teenagers.

Scooping The Poop

“All I do is scoop the poop,” one poetic father told us and several nodded in agreement. It is in the comfort and solace of home where the scoopers would appreciate being appreciated for the poop they scoop. So when dads discover that they’re still in the poop business at home because of unappreciative daughters or ungrateful sons, they tend to lose it. Kids can’t understand because they’ve not experienced the world of the office or shop where one’s self-esteem can take a thrashing. Kids only know need. By their very nature, they’re takers, not givers. They can’t help it. They don’t appreciate the expensive, new carpet and don’t understand that a well-timed thank-you can extend a father’s life another two, three hours. They cannot conceive of the idea that to follow house rules—like no food in the bonus room—is not a parental strategy to be bossy and keep them under thumb. Rules help to maintain order and sanity.


How do you make it clear to your teen that showing respect isn’t simply following rules and taking orders—but it is honoring the home, the comforts, the conveniences and the new carpet that mom and dad have worked hard for and will continue to work hard for because that’s what parents do?

We discovered in our conversations with a lot of dads that two words, respect and appreciation, are really important to fathers. And, yep, those words really are important to teenagers. It works both ways.



By dads2dads