Loving Our Children: Communicating with daughters and teenagers

Andy is an IT professional by training and a dad of 4 daughters. Yes, you read that right – Andy and his wife have raised four strong, beautiful & gracious girls. He has much to share from personal experience, so let’s get things rolling!

Hi Andy! Could you introduce yourself and your family to our readers please?

I’m an ordinary guy who is greatly blessed with a loving wife, Cheryl. We have 4 wonderful daughters: Danielle (23), Davelle (22), Dominique (18) and Darienne (16).

As a family, we enjoy doing things together such as preparing meals, eating together, and going on family staycations and vacations. There’s nothing better than being with family!

Andy's 4 daughtersAs a dad, what’s it like bringing up 4 daughters?

To be honest, I actually find it easy. Girls are generally more sensitive, so I find that my daughters are aware of my needs and are expressive in caring for me and the family. They care for and help each other out as well, so that also makes it easier.

On the flipside, because I have 4 daughters, I end up driving them around a lot more – probably a lot more than I would if I have sons. I think it’s because I’m protective to some extent; when they go out late at night with friends I volunteer to drive them home.

This is where communication plays a major role. I share my heart with them, and let them know that the reason why I don’t want them to be home late is because I’m concerned about their safety.

Many dads have shared with us that communicating with their teenage daughters is a challenge. Do you have any advice based on your own experiences?

Communication is important at all stages, but it is extremely vital when they are teenagers. My suggestion: Take time to observe and communicate with your daughter. Let’s break it down further.

• Take time to observe:
Dads, this means that you really have to spend quality time with them (regardless of their love language). Be there for them and watch them grow up. Observe their moods and genuinely care for them.

• Communicating with your daughter:
If you observe that something is going wrong, show her that you are there for her by listening to her.

I cannot emphasise how important it is to let her share and talk…! I have learnt that it is not so much about teaching and sharing, but rather, letting them express themselves. In the course of conversation you can share your own experiences and how you dealt with things. As she reaches a conclusion as to what to do, that’s when you have to love and support her.

Is there any particular way that you convey your love and support for your daughter?

When they are in Secondary School, I make it a point to attend Date with Dad with them. I also make it a point to bring them out for a special one-on-one dinner on their 18th birthday. It’s almost like a rite of passage for each daughter!

My wife and I believe that it’s important to commemorate this milestone, so I’ll bring them out for a nice celebration, treating them like the grown-up lady that they have become.

That being said, I believe it’s an ongoing process. Cheryl and I learnt about the 5 Love Languages before the children were born, and we used that to identify how they receive love best so that we can effectively convey it to them.

Oh! Since you knew about it from the beginning, have your daughters’ love language evolved with time?

No, it hasn’t, even though their responses to how we give love may vary.

For example, if D likes quality time, but because of the mood or circumstances (e.g. busy and stressed out by schoolwork), how she reacts to me wanting to spend time with her may come back with a less than positive response.

As parents we tend to think that if they don’t respond, it means that they don’t like it. From my observation with my daughters, certain responses are situational. So the next time when you display that particular love language, they may react differently.

Sounds applicable to teenagers as a whole, not just daughters…

I believe wholeheartedly in doing the following three steps over and again in showing love:

Observing ⇒ Communicating ⇒ Supporting

When we observe their behaviour over a longer period of time, we then can understand what makes them feel most loved, and then adjust accordingly. And as always, communication is vital, no matter how old your child is.

Do you have any last words for parents of teens when it comes to communicating love?

I would encourage parents to love your child just as he/she is. It is a great way to convey that you love them. This is especially important if you have more than 1 child.

This applies to all parents, not just parents with teens. Recognize that every child is special and unique. Appreciate, enjoy and celebrate his/her differences!

Have any personal experiences to share about loving teenagers? Share them in the comments below!-

Editor’s note: Date with Dad is our signature event that will be happening in February. Registration is now open! Find out more about this exclusive father-daughter event here. You can also download the Dad’s Guide as a resource to help you strengthen your relationship with your daughter!

This post is part of Loving our Children series that we’re running this October in conjunction with Children’s Day. 

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