“My Dad is a Total…” Four Things You Want Your Teen to Say About You
“My dad is a total dick.”
“My dad is a gentle giant.”
“My dad is always working, he is never around.”
“My dad is very caring, he is always checking in on me.”
“My dad is always on his phone.”
When your child or teen is asked, “What’s your dad like?” How will they respond?
In my 20 years of asking kids and teens this question, here are four things you want your teen to say about you.
“My dad is a bad ass.”
Your children will learn lots of important stuff in school… maths, history, science, writing… solid info.
But your kid’s school will not teach your children many of the most of the important life skills an adult needs. For example, there is no class called “Perseverance 101”, or “How To Have Grit”, or “Standing Strong When Life Gets Horrible.”
It’s not a school teacher’s job to teach your children to be tough. Mental toughness is not in the curriculum.
So where will your kids learn to be a gritty, driven, strong, “bad-ass”? A person who can stand strong when their world falls apart? This is a parent’s job.
Dads, when you live a life of grit, toughness, hard work – and when you stand strong when life gets crazy, your kids will notice. And they will say, “My dad is a bad ass.”
“My dad is kinda weird.”
Allow me to remind you: You are one of a kind. There is no one like you.
You have quirks. Unique interests. Unusual ideas.
When a father understands, and celebrates, his unique weirdness, he makes a good dad choice. He teaches his children that all humans are different from each other – and that it’s good to be different.
As they get older, our kids will better understand their own uniqueness, and how they are different from other kids. Yet your kids won’t be ashamed of this.
Unlike many of their peers, your kids will feel comfortable being unique.
Why? Well, because they learned to love and accept their unique selves from their weirdo dad.
“My dad is fun.”
Dad, you know how to have fun. Before you had kids, you probably had lots of fun.
But now that you are a dad, do you still have fun? Do you have hobbies, passions and interests outside of your kids – or a screen?
Or, have you fallen into the parent-trap? The trap where you now spend most of your free time watching Netflix, playing on your phone and living a fun-less, predictable, boring, #dadlife.
If you are living a boring dad life, there will be grave consequences.
Your kids (and spouse) will likely not enjoy your company…or look up to you.
You won’t make fun memories with your family.
Your kids will describe you as a boring, lame-o.
The remedy? Live a balanced life full of passion, adventure and have fun with, and without, your kids!
“My dad is good at talking about feelings…mine and his.”
We are the first generation of dads who talk about feelings with our wives and kids. We are present. We are emotionally available. (Props to us.)
Most of us did not learn how to do this from our own fathers. We learned our emotions from books, blogs, social media, therapists or adult mentors.
We have redefined masculinity. The media didn’t do this. Gillettedidn’t do this. We did it. Everyday dads who are emotionally present, available and expressive.
Every time we practised empathy.
Every time we cried.
Every time we said, “I feel…”
Every time we asked, “Tell me how you feel…”
Every time we said, “It’s OK to be emotional; I am here for you.”
Every time we live our life with grit, weirdness, fun and emotional awareness, we parent well… and we will like what we hear when our teen is asked, “What’s your dad like?”
Every time… we taught our children… and we sent them a message of the man, and the dad, we are.
Sean Donohue is a Family Coach and Founder of ParentingModernTeens.com. He coaches parents and teens in-person in northern California and worldwide via Zoom, Skype and FaceTime. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram. at “The Family Coach”.