How To Be a Better Dad: Parenting My Teenager 

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How To Be a Better Dad: Parenting My Teenager 

How To Be a Better Dad is the fatherhood and co-parenting section on SingleDad. Share and exchange great fatherhood advice from our members who are in all stages of fatherhood. This month, learn about how to get through the teenage troubles. 


   Dear SingleDad, My name is Ray I am 56 and I am not a single father. I have been married to my wife for 18 years, but I am looking everywhere for help. My wife and I have 4 children who are 16, 15, 12, and 7. They are all wonderful children, but the one we can not seem to get through to or know what to do with is our 16 year old. We have done everything, so we believe. Our last idea and option we feel like is sending her to an outdoor program. I’m not sure if many people are familiar with the program, but it’s like a school. It’s away from home and throws her into the outdoor world to help bring a different outlook. I’m also not sure if it’s the right thing to do. We need help and any advice is appreciated. Thank you.

Dear Ray,

Teenage years are tough, but not only for the parents. It sounds like there may be “acting out” behavior coming from your 16 year old. Acting out is put in parenthesis because it is a behavior that can be confusing, shocking, or possibly scary, but it does not come from nothing. 


What have been your other options? What was the outcome? 

Create a list with your wife of all of the options you have tried. Why did you two feel that was an option? What were the intentions behind it? How did your 16 year old react? Now reflect on that behavior and try to empathize with what your child was truly feeling underneath that reaction. 


Has there been open conversation with your child? 

Sometimes getting right down to it and asking, “what’s going on? Please tell me.”, creates an extremely different relationship. Not taking your child’s behavior personal is a must at times. He/she has to learn accountability, but conversation or making time to listen helps build that. It sounds like there is an underlying root to your child’s behavior and helping them figure it out is progress to a solution. Finding a solution means: Allowing he/she to express themselves + support = trust. Trust creates progress. Progress means growth. Growth means accountability. Accountability means awareness and better problem solving. 

What does your child need?

Along with asking what is going on and finding the root of that, then ask, “what do they need?” What does he/she need in order to move forward? Sending them off to an outdoor program, usually unexpectedly, away from all that they know, I believe could create an even greater barrier. Come to your child with patience, love, support, and empathy. You may be surprised by what that can bring. He/she may tell you therapy, alone or with you both. He/she may tell you they need to be more involved with hobbies, more freedom, more trust, and less control. No matter the age, your child is their own person, with their own struggles you may never know about and showing up with that in mind may be the best solution. 


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