As parents, there are often situations that tend to repeat themselves over and over again. To better handle these experiences, or to simply realize that you are not the only one dealing with these problems,

Tom and Bill have a a few questions and answers that might help.

Questions about Interacting With Your Teenager

Q: What can I do when my teenager just plain refuses to talk to me?

A: Love him or her like crazy and keep the door of communication open. Be ready but not pushy. Eventually your teenager will stand at that door ready to enter.

Q: Who would you suggest as a great role model for my kid?

A: You. Whether mom or dad, you’re nearby and extremely visible. Even when you think your teenager isn’t paying any attention to you, he or she is watching and studying you–and probably will one day mirror your behavior. So be the best role model possible.

Q: What is the most important ingredient to a successful relationship, whether it’s between parents and kids, siblings or husband and wife?

A: In our opinion, if trust doesn’t exist–complete trust–then there is nothing else.

Q: Do teenagers really want all the independence that they beg for?

A: Yes … and no. They want to be on their own and make their own decisions. They also are scared to death of self–reliance. The tension between the two is one of the major reasons why they can be so darned rude and uppity.

Q: What is your definition of a beautiful person?

A: Well, it has little to do with the exterior of a person, we’re convinced of that. A person’s true beauty simply reveals itself as you get to know him or her. That’s a tough one. It’s kind of like explaining how you know when you’re in love. You just know.

Q: As dads, what was the single most exasperating thing about parenting?

A: The most difficult challenge was to know when to step in and take control and when to step away and let our child struggle with a situation. A part of parenting requires letting go. But really, the answer to this question could be different on any given day.

Q: Why does my kid rebel against structure in his life?

A: Because he doesn’t want your structure. He wants his structure. Kids want and need structure, even though they won’t admit it. But if they build their own, then they own it. It’s not something imposed on them.

Q: What is your greatest regret as a father of a teenager?

A: There are two things. We wish we would have listened to them better. Sometimes we were too busy thinking of a comeback when we got into an argument. We should have swallowed my ego and just listened. We might have learned something. The other regret is that we sometimes let our work absorb too much of our time, missing out on some opportunities to spend time together. You can never get that lost time back.

Q: If I suspect alcohol use by my teenager, what should I do?

A: First, don’t panic. Remember when you were young and experimented a little. If you come down too hard on your teenager, you just might drive him or her to experiment a little more. If you are too permissive and keep hands–off, you might miss a warning flag. Somewhere there is a middle ground. Parents should talk to their teenager about alcohol abuse and point out possible consequences of abuse. Parents also should offer support and understanding and make sure that your teenager knows how much you love him. Start early. Talk about values and behavior and consequences of bad decisions. If you suspect–through observation or comments from other kids–that your child has a serious problem with drugs or alcohol, then please seek professional help.

Q: Is it wrong for ol’ dad to want his kids to say thank you once in a while?

A: Not at all. Remember when our children were small and someone gave them a piece of candy? What did we immediately say to our child? What do you say, Tommy? And we smiled when little Tommy uttered a “thank you.” That was one of the first things we taught our kids. So why shouldn’t we expect them to express that same gratitude when they become teenagers? And why is it so wrong to say thanks to dad or mom? Obviously we don’t expect our kids to thank us for every little thing we do–or show gratitude before we are willing to do something. We have to be reasonable. But, yes, kids need to know their parents are usually the source from whom most blessings flow.

Q: Is it wrong for me to cheer my kid on from the bleachers?

A: Only if all eyes in the stadium or gym turn toward you and away from the action on the field. We dads sometimes live vicariously through our kids, especially if we were never big stars on the field or court. If your son misses an easy shot and you take it personally as if you missed the shot and then yell at him, you need to step back and reconsider. If your daughter goes to kick the ball and misses it, and you chew her out from the sidelines because you’re embarrassed or your ego gets the boot, you need to stop and reflect. Remember, dad, you’re a role model for your kid on and off the field. Cheer your kids on, win or lose!