I am a married father with two kids, a boy and a girl. My daughter just turned 14, and is a good kid. Although she complains about her chores, she does them. She is also a good student. She tried sports, but didn’t like it much. She is currently in band, and likes it okay. The problem is this: I was a budding troubled kid at 14. I was starting to smoke a little weed and was a mediocre student at best. Although I was never in trouble with the law (mainly because I didn’t get caught), I graduated near the bottom of my class. I wasn’t sexually active, but I sure wanted to be. Now we fast forward to the 21st century, and things are very different. The kids are less restrained, I’m guessing due to outside influences and lazy parenting. I find myself being too restrictive on her because I don’t want her turning into me. Will she? I think that a lot of fathers are worried their girls will be a 16 year old, pregnant, pot smoking lost child. In my case, if she turns out like I was, it might come true. How do I keep that from happening?
Was Lost and Want To Be Found
Dear Lost and Found,
As I don’t have all the family facts here, I will need to generalize some. If you have a good marriage, the teaming up of a Mom and Dad increase the chances of success. Obviously there are plenty of single parents raising good kids, but competent double-teaming is a big advantage. You need to know that in addition to self esteem building activities, competently dealing with her screw ups are immensely important. Learning from our mistakes is an inescapable part of learning right from wrong and accountability. That’s HER mistakes, not yours . Some parents think they’ll keep their children from being like they were by confessing their early mistakes to their kids. Kids never learn from their parents experiences, only their own. I usually advise parents to keep their sordid past to themselves. Try to treat her errors in judgment (which she will have) as a chance to teach her, not merely punish her. Also, acknowledging the good stuff is at least as important. We need to be appropriately cautious, but allow her to do things that are important to her.
Remember, she is a genetic product of you and her mother, not just you. And it’s y’all raising her, not your Mom and Dad. Different parents, different kid. Finally, at the risk of self promotion, I really like the essay on Fathers and Daughters. Read if you are so inclined at: http://www.johnsommercounseling.com/fathers-and-daughters.html.
Work hard, have some fun and teach her the best you can. She’s not living at home with you for long. Take advantage of your time together.