We asked our 12-15 year old Date with Dad and Adventure with Dad participants to share their fears about growing up are and how their parents can show their care and support for them.
Here's what they had to say:
I'm worried that I'll fail and not make my parents proud.
Getting a good job and living up to my parents standards.
First of all, education concerns - exams and academic achievements. Secondly, I want to be independent. I'd like to know that I can take care of mom and my brother if you're overseas and how to be a good sister.
Dad, I know you try your best to provide for us, but sometimes I do feel a little stressed about having to live up to the expectations of trying to do everything right too.
Your Kids Want to Please You
Back in 2010, tennis star Andre Agassi wrote in his book Open that he lost his childhood from the tender age of 6 because he followed his dad’s daily tennis program. His dad taped ping pong paddles to his wrists as a baby and by the time Andre was 6, he was forced to hit 2500 tennis balls a day. Agassi has repeatedly said that he hates tennis and always has. Why didn’t he stop?
Children would do almost anything to please their parents and get their approval. When they don’t get the affirmation and support they need, especially during the crucial years when they’re developing their self-identity, they end up feeling poorly about themselves leading to lifelong issues like low self-esteem and self doubt.
Teenagers often feel that their parents are disapproving of them because most parents spend more time disciplining rather than affirming their kids. It is important not to focus on bad behavior but instead try to find out what's causing it through open communication and setting healthy boundaries in a safe environment. A teenager needs even more of your attention during this critical period of their lives.
Flip the Conversation
Find the good in the things that they do instead of focusing on the bad. This way, they feel understood and will be more willing to work hard when they feel that their efforts are being recognized.
Dad, it would be great if you could share your experiences with me when I meet new setbacks. I would also love to get your reassurance when I've done badly in a test, especially when I've tried my best.
Invest Your Time
More importantly, they are beginning to see the value of quality time and are able to discern your heart through your actions. Don’t give your teen any room to doubt that you love them and don’t miss out on any chance to get to know them better and let them get to know you better.
Come home earlier from work. We spent more time when I was younger, in primary school and you travelled less.
I’d love some quality time alone. You spend a lot of time working and usually if you’re around it’s with mom too. Spending time with you would mean a lot.
You could help me with my schoolwork instead of just asking me to do it. You could also teach me other skills, outside of school, like swimming.
As Sundra put it, "My proudest moment was when Munisha was born, because I graduated from being married and got promoted to 'dad'."
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If you want to find out more about journeying with your teenager while tackling trickier topics like sex and relationships, sign up for Parenting with Confidence (13-19 years) and remain connected with your child.