Love Means Holding On, Letting Go

The Overseer

As a father of daughters, Tom saw his share of young male suitors. On weekends he’d gather clues about the boy du jour. He’d observe the young man’s arrival in the driveway, his walk to the front door (no swaggering!) and the “character” of his eye contact—direct, evasive or shifty. Once the young man was allowed in the door, Tom’s demeanor would gradually evolve from friendly greeting to subtle inquisition. His daughter would smile at her gentleman caller, roll her eyes at Mom and, gently pushing the young man out the door, turn back and shoot visual daggers at Dad. Eventually Tom was relegated to the TV room where he vaguely heard Mom’s greeting and wondered if she was conducting a proper grilling and inspection.

The Protector

The fathers we’ve talked to all have those protective feelings for their daughters. What kind of boy is this? What are his intentions? Will I ever see my daughter again!

You’ve been caring for this precious creature since birth. You love her indescribably, in spite of the aggravations she (and probably you, too!) have caused. It’s only natural to be protective.

But when your daughter becomes a teen and starts dating, there is one pain you cannot spare her – a broken heart. That sad, rejected, ache-inducing look on your daughter’s face when she says, “We broke up,” “He lied to me,” “I don’t want to talk about it.”

The Shoulder to Lean On

Avoid a reaction. She will probably not want to talk to you about it when it happens. Your gut instinct to put a dent in the guy’s skull will certainly not make her any more likely to share her story. The best you can do is probably to say, “I’m so sorry.”

Be patient. She may mention something about the incident, the relationship or the feeling. Listen for this and be supportive. Don’t pry.

Let her share. If she decides to share her pain, let her do it in her own way. Don’t control it. She needs to deal with this personal pain so that she can come to terms with it. Don’t give advice or try to change her mood or gloss over the loss.

Be available. Make sure she doesn’t spiral downward too far. Be aware of her mood and keep in touch. Your interaction need have nothing to do with the loss, but it has everything to do with remaining available and being aware. She needs to feel loved to overcome the feelings of rejection and hurt. Share with her a time when you felt profoundly hurt, rejected or left out.

This is one event we can’t fix, Dad, but we can help our child heal. Patience, openness and understanding may be a bit unfamiliar but are in our child’s best interest.

 

 

 

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By dads2dads

The Overextended Teen

Bill’s older son had a close friend who was set on a starring role in an upcoming community musical. He was intent on getting that part. Or at least his mother was. Trouble was, he was also on the swim team, in dance and taekwondo lessons, engaged in piano instruction, and serving as an acolyte at his church. This was in addition to legislative council, the student newspaper, and the drama club at his high school. Bill sometimes wondered if all those activities were his choice or the choice of his parents. The child seemed to be under a great deal of stress.

Finding The “Why”

Recently we heard that the prevalence of social media has reduced even further the practice of contemplation. Things move so quickly now that pondering is seen as a disability; a short list of activities for your son or daughter is viewed as a weakness.

While it is important to encourage your teen in some beneficial areas where they are reluctant, it is also important to review their list of activities and honestly assess the motivation and purpose of the involvement. Are we pushing our son to be the baseball player we couldn’t be? Is our daughter trying out for the lead in the play because of our desire or hers? It’s a fine line but as parents, we need to occasionally stop and sort out the value and the motivation of our kids’ activities.

Some teens engage in only the most basic activities and avoid any challenges or opportunities that have the potential to reap rich rewards. Others, however, become overextended through their own drive or the pressure of their parents. This hyperactivity can lead to negative stress for the whole family.

How do you figure out what to encourage and whether your son or daughter is involved in too much or for the wrong reasons?

Rebalancing

Try asking. See how they feel about their daily life. Watch for trouble signs like inability to finish assignments, a drop in homework or increased irritability.

Try the percentage approach. Help your son or daughter divide the day and see if homework, extracurricular school activities, community service, etc., can be assigned loose percentages or time periods that will help provide some limitations and organization.

Quality trumps quantity. Instruct your daughter that even though everything seems important and interesting, choices need to be made. Reassure your son that you’re ok with him cutting back on some activities. Stress the importance of “down time.”

Overall, while you can play an important role, we think it is important to leave it to your teen to sort out daily life. This provides the opportunity to learn how to manage time and set priorities. As we have found with our kids, our support is then key to open communication and achieving a balanced, successful life.

 

By dads2dads