you play video games, you know the value of a good “cheat code.” They help the player advance to a new level or gain a
special power. They help the gamer obtain a special tool or weapon needed to
succeed in the game.
If you’re a Dad of daughters, you
may feel as though you need a “cheat code.” You may want inside
information to help you move toward an advanced level of understanding in
relation to your daughter. You probably desire a “cheat code” that
will open a gateway to the special power of influencing your daughter toward
maturity. If so, I have just what you’re
looking for: “cheat codes” for dads raising daughters.
Now it’s time for another
“cheat code:” Acknowledge and Protect Your Daughter’s Beauty.
The Cheat Code: Acknowledge and Protect Your Daughter’s Beauty.
Purpose: When you Acknowledge and Protect Your Daughter’s Beauty,
Increase your daughter’s confidence
in her appearance and her overall self.
Help your daughter develop positive
boundaries for romantic relationships.
Increase the chances that your
daughter will wait to become sexually active.
Increase your daughter’s modesty and
appropriate self-protective behavior.
Value: Our daughters receive conflicting messages about beauty,
romance, and how to “use” their body. In many ways, I think our
society encourages a love/hate relationship with the body. The media teaches
girls to use their bodies to get what they want while teaching them to hate
that others give them what they want in response to their appearance. However,
as a father you can help change this for your daughter. By Acknowledging and
Protecting Your Daughter’s Beauty you teach her the true value of her
body. You teach her to value her body as
a gift. As you do, you increase her overall confidence and her willingness to
establish appropriate boundaries of modesty.
Instructions: Acknowledging and Protecting Your Daughter’s Beauty involves…
Giving healthy hugs and affection. Share healthy physical affection every day with your daughter.
Acknowledge her beauty. Tell her she is beautiful. Acknowledge times when she looks especially nice.
Talk about what she wants in a romantic partner. Rather than asking, “Do you love him?” talk about what she wants in a relationship. What traits does she want her romantic partner to possess? How does she expect her romantic partner to treat her?
Be a champion for modesty. Right or wrong, the way a person dresses impacts how people think of them. In a manner of speaking, a person’s style of dress becomes the packaging that advertises the content inside. Fathers can help their daughters think through what they want to say through their dress. How can their dress reveal the true nature of the content inside?
Teach our daughters that the deeper value of the body is not based on external beauty but on the character they develop. The body allows us a tangible way to live out our character. The body allows us to serve, care for, and comfort as well as rejoice with, celebrate, and connect with others.
Encourage involvement in sports. This can help a girl learn the joys of a body that is active and healthy.
Practice gratitude for all our body allows us to do. (Read Thank You, Body with your daughter. Print it out & give her a copy so she can read to herself as often as she wants to.)
Ever notice how frustrating it can
be to ask your teen, “What did you do today?” and hear,
“Nothing.” “Nothing!” All day with friends, all day at
school, all day…and “Nothing!” Maybe we need to ask a different
question, one that might surprise them, even elicit some thought on their part.
Here are some ideas:
What made you laugh today?
What new fact did you learn today?
What was the hardest thing you had
to do today?
What did you do during
lunch/recess/before school/after school?
What part of the day was the most
fun? What made it so fun?
Did anything happen today that made
you feel bad/sad/angry?
What did you do that made you feel
most proud of yourself today? Why did that make you proud?
What is the kindest thing did you do
for someone else today?
What kindness did you show yourself
What was the least boring part of
the day for you?
What are you grateful for today?
What did you do to help a friend
What was the most enjoyable thing
you did today?
Who inspired you today?
How did you help somebody today?
Who did you encourage today and how
did you encourage them?
Who encouraged you today?
What can I do for you right now?
What is happening tomorrow that you
are excited about?
What do you wish was different about
That’s 20 questions you can try
instead of the usual “How was your day?” or “What did you do
today?” Try different ones. Mix them up. And, add to the list. Please, share
with us any new questions you ask your children about their day.
If you play video games, you know
the value of a good “cheat code.” They help the player advance to a
new level or gain a special power. Other “cheat codes” help the gamer
obtain a special tool or weapon needed for greater success.
If you’re a Dad of daughters, you
may feel as though you need a “cheat code.” You may want inside information
to help you move toward an advanced level of understanding in relation to your
daughter. You likely desire a “cheat code” that will provide a
gateway to the special power needed to influence your daughter toward
maturity. If so, I have just what you’re
looking for: “cheat codes” for dads raising daughters.
The last “cheat code” provided information about “Spending Time With Your Daughter.” Here is another “cheat code” for raising daughters: Showing Confidence in Your Daughter’s Abilities.
The Cheat Code: Showing Confidence in Your Daughter’s Abilities.
Purpose: Showing Confidence in Your Daughter’s Abilities will…
Value: Every day, your daughter’s confidence and inner strength is undermined in a multitude of ways. Our cultural obsession with a particular brand of beauty leads to a lack of confidence in our daughters. In fact, 80% of 10-year-old girls have been on a diet because they lack confidence in the appearance of their body! Struggles at school with teachers and academic work also impacts our daughters’ confidence. Conflict with peers, jealousy, boyfriend problems, girl drama…it all threatens to crush your daughter’s confidence.
Fortunately for us, children first
gain a sense of confidence from their family. More importantly, you, her father, have a special power to boost
your daughter’s confidence. You do it by simply Showing Confidence in Your
Instructions: Showing Confidence in Your Daughter’s Abilities involves…
Praise specifically. Don’t just offer a broad acknowledgements like “Good job” for something she did well. Offer a specific praise. For instance, “I really liked the time you went around the defender to shoot the goal. That was fancy footwork.” Or, “I love that blue color you chose in your drawing. How did you choose that?”
Expose your daughter to challenges. Climb trees and mountains with your daughter. Go backpacking. Let them drive on a snowy day. Support them in trying out for the school play. Applaud their solo. When we support our daughters in taking risks, we show our confidence in their ability. And they learn to have confidence in their abilities as well.
Let them go. Our children start exhibiting a desire for independence when they crawl away from us into another room or refuse to eat the mashed sweet potatoes on the spoon we are floating in front of their face. Encourage their age appropriate independence. Support it. Teach them and then show confidence in their ability to do what they have learned.
Listen to your daughter. Really listen. Let her teach you about her life at school, her friends, her music, her world. Show genuine interest in her and her world. Carefully consider what she says and let her words influence you. Acknowledge her wisdom. And, change with her as she grows and teaches you. You might even learn to like some of that “kid’s music” along the way. More importantly, your daughter will grow confident in her ability to voice her opinions.
Let your daughter do significant tasks that contribute to the household. Yes, this means chores. But make sure they know the significance of those chores to the household. Thank them for doing the chores…after all, we thank people for doing those things that are important to us.
If you play video games, you know
the value of a good “cheat code.” “Cheat codes” help the player
advance to a new level or gain a special power. Other “cheat codes”
help the gamer obtain a special tool or weapon they need to succeed in the
If you’re a Dad of daughters, you
probably feel like you need a “cheat code.” You want some inside information to
help you move up to an advanced level of understanding or win points to deepen
your relationship your daughter. You likely desire a “cheat code” for
obtaining the special power needed to influence your daughter toward
maturity. If so, I have just what you’re
looking for: “cheat codes” for dads raising daughters.
The Cheat Code:Spend Time With Your Daughter.
Purpose:Spending Time With Your Daughter will…
deepen your relationship with her,
increase your understanding of her,
strengthen your influence with her.
Value: Why is spending time with your daughter important? Your
daughter does not spell “love” with the letter “L.” She
spells it with the letter “T” for T.I.M.E. Spending time with your
daughter communicates your love for her. It increases her sense of value and
Instructions: In order to communicate love effectively through time, you
have to make some adjustments.
Put down your cell phone.
Turn off the TV. Quit reading the
paper. Stop watching the game.
Spend 20-30 minutes simply
interacting with your daughter. You can do this by going for a walk with her or
simply sitting down with her and talking. You could take a ride to the ice
cream shop and talk over an ice cream cone. Let your creativity and your
daughter’s interests guide the where and when of the conversation.
Use your time to time to listen
“twice as much as you talk.” Let her set the topic of conversation.
If she does not initiate a topic, ask about her interests, her activities, her
friends, or her dreams. Compliment some aspect of her that you admire.
When she does bring up a topic, show
interest. You may not really be interested in the “best color skirt”
to wear to the dance or the ongoing saga of girl life in middle school. Show
interest anyway. Ask a few questions. Be excited with her and mourn with her.
Learn about how she thinks about everything.
As you spend time with your
daughter, she will learn of her value. She will learn she is valuable enough to
have your undivided attention for a period of time every day. You will also
develop a stronger relationship with her…one that will last a lifetime.
Let’s face it. Teens do some crazy
things at times. I did some stupid things as a teen. You probably did too. And,
our teens probably will as well. They may do one thing we never thought in a
million years they would do; and, in so doing, break our trust. It may be
simple, like staying out past their curfew. Or, it may be more serious, like
getting caught with drugs or sending a revealing picture to the “new love
of their life” (or convincing their “new love” to send the
picture). Whatever it is, big or small, it shatters the trust we once had for
our sweet, innocent child. We discipline and work to assure the behavior won’t
happen again. But how do we rebuild the trust we once had? How do we begin to
trust our teen again?
Be open with
your teen. Explain your feelings to your teen.
Let them know their behavior hurt you. You may have sounded angry, but
underneath the anger was hurt and disappointment. Explain your desire to trust
them again and your continued love for them. Let them know you recognize their
potential and believe in their ability to reach that potential. Recall times in
which your teen has acted in ways that built trust and increased your pride in
them. Let them know you still remember those positive behaviors as well.
balanced view of your teen. Recall
the positive things your teen has done and said that give you a sense of joy
and pride in order to balance any feelings of disappointment and hurt you may
have experienced. Remember, you have also done wonderful things and things of
which you are not proud. Allow your teen the same freedom.
your feelings. You have talked to your teen, now
deal with your own emotions. They are your feelings and your responsibility.
Don’t let your emotions interfere with your changing relationship with your
teen. Resolve them.
boundaries and expectations…but be
careful as you do. Do not set up unrealistic expectations in a knee-jerk
reaction to the behavior that broke your trust. Be reasonable. Discuss limits
and boundaries with another adult to get a more objective viewpoint. Discuss
them with your teen as well. Work to reach an agreement on what constitutes
reasonable expectations for your home and family.
clear roadmap for regaining trust and watch your teen’s journey on that road to
redemption. When your teen meets an expectation
or follows a rule, make a point to notice it and allow it to enhance your trust
in them. Realize no teen is perfect, so allow for some minor setbacks. A rule of thumb is to allow
your teen 1 setback for 5-6 trust building actions you observe. Keep your eyes
open for those trust building actions. Don’t let them slip by unnoticed.
Take a risk. Parents have the tendency to hold their teen closer and
micromanage their every activity after trust has been broken. Unfortunately,
this only increases frustration. It leads to greater conflict and a further
deterioration of trust. Rather than micromanage, allow your teen to engage in a
“trial run.” Explain the “trial run” to your teen. “I
am trusting you with this job or activity. When all goes well and they return,
you will have nurtured trust. If you revert to the behavior that originally
broke our trust, you will have further damaged our trust.”
Finally, talk about other stuff.
Don’t continue repeating the conversation about your fears and their behavior.
Find some areas of interest to talk about. If they enjoy music, talk about
music. If they enjoy fishing, talk about fishing. Find areas in which you can
enjoy conversation with your teen. Doing so will build relationship and trust.
These 7 actions are not simple. But
they will help rebuild trust with your teen and deepen your relationship with
Pre-adolescents and adolescents go
through tremendous change. They change from elementary school to middle school
to high school to college. Their individual
classrooms and teachers change multiple times a day. Their relationships with family
and friends change. Their voices change. Their bodies change. Even their brain
changes. In fact, their changing brain makes pre-adolescence and adolescence
the perfect time for building the habit of contributing to family and community.
One impact of a teen’s changing brain is their growing ability to think
abstractly and consider the consequences of various actions and words. They
want to make a contribution of consequence, a meaningful contribution as
opposed to the simple act of making their bed (which they likely perceive as
having little benefit to themselves or others). So, think about ways in which
your teen can have substantial impact on others in the community—a regular
volunteer position helping children or elderly or homeless for instance. When
you want them to contribute to the home by doing chores, explain the
“substantial benefit” of that chore. Don’t just make it up; be
sincere. Your teen wants to make a difference. Provide opportunities for them
to do so.
The teen brain also has a growing
ability to take another person’s perspective and to understand another person’s
feelings. They often “go overboard” with this growing ability in
their attempt to become popular with their peers. This new ability grows so strong
they worry about “bad hair days” or the “pimple that will ruin
the dance.” But you can utilize their growing ability to take another
person’s perspective and their desire to be popular by helping them consider how
they might contribute to their home and community. For what group of people do
they feel a particularly strong compassion? How might they like to contribute
to others in a meaningful way? How do household chores impact others in the
home? You might have these types of discussions with your teen while discussing
chores, opportunities to serve, or ways of contributing to others.
The reward system in your teen’s
brain is also changing. They experience greater positive feelings from new and
exciting activities than we do as adults. This drives some of their risk-taking
behaviors. However, research suggests that this same brain area (the reward
system) drives kind and helpful behaviors as well. In fact, most people,
including teens, find kindness and helpfulness a “feel-good experience;”
they find it rewarding. Sounds like a great reason to build opportunities to
make contributions of consequences into your teen’s life.
Your teen’s brain is primed for making
contributions of consequence. Create such opportunities in the family. Let them
provide real and meaningful jobs like caring for younger siblings, helping with
meal preparation, or participating in family decisions about food choices,
rules, daily activities, or vacations.
Encourage them to become involved in their school through student
government, clubs, or sports where they can take on leadership and
decision-making roles. Provide opportunities for them to contribute to the
community through regular volunteer efforts in areas where they have a
particularly strong interest or passion.
ride an emotional roller coaster. They get angry, happy, excited, bored, and so
much more. You name it, they feel it. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to
manage those feelings in a mature way…YET. One of our parental jobs is to teach
them the skills necessary to manage emotions in a mature and effectively way.
The first step in teaching your children the skills to manage their emotions well is to make sure you manage your emotions well. (Find tips to manage your own emotion and get your teen to talk while you do in Encouraging Your Teen to Talk with You.)
Third, develop an “Emotional Management Toolbox”
with your child. Find a shoe box. Then sit down with your child to talk
about ways to manage their emotions. As you talk about various methods, fill
the box with items that will help them carry out the plan. Here are a few items
that may prove useful in an Emotional Management Toolbox.
A set of emotional face cards. You can download this picture of facial expressions here or here to represent your child’s emotions. Cut them into cards, one emotion per card. Your child can use these pictures and labels to help him name the emotion he is feeling. Being able to name an emotion allows a person the time to think about the best response to that emotion. Naming an emotion is a first step in managing an emotion.
A straw to focus breathing. A straw can help a person learn how practice a calming breath. Put the straw in your child’s mouth and have them take a big breath in through their nose and then slowly breath out through the straw. This slow breathing exercise can help calm emotions.
Favorite photos. Get photos that remind them of their favorite place, a favorite person, or who they want to become…photos that remind them of their values, their desires, and their relationships.
Art supplies. Your child can use art supplies to express his or her emotions in positive and nonharmful ways. So, get some crayons, markers, paints, coloring books, and paper. You can also get clay, playdough, beads, string…any art supplies your child might enjoy. Mandala coloring books can prove especially helpful with some teens.
Candles. Smells and aromas like lavender, sandalwood, jasmine, and vanilla are among the scents that have a calming effect on many people, including children. Scented candles and essential oils may prove a great tool in your child’s Emotional Management Toolkit.
Fidget toys and stress balls provide another excellent tool in the Emotional Management Toolkit. (A variety of fidget toys and stress balls can be found here or on amazon.)
A reminder to run or bike or do some physical activity. Sometimes a person needs to “blow off steam” to really manage their emotions. So figure out a way to put a reminder in the Emotional Management Toolkit. A picture or an action figure might do the trick…whatever serves as the best reminder for your child.
Self-affirmation cards. You and your child can sit down one day and create several self-affirmation cards to keep in their Emotional Management Toolkit. Statements like, “This makes me angry and I can use that anger to talk about what’s important to me.” Or, “I’ve managed this before and I can manage it again.” “I am stronger than my emotions.” “My emotions are not in charge of me; I’m in charge of my emotions.” You and your child can write down the ones that will be most helpful in your family.
more things you could put in your child’s Emotional Management Toolkit, but
I’ll leave that to you and your child’s creativity. Put it together and teach
them to use it. In time, your child will be a master at managing emotion.
I’ve often heard it said that “parents have to pick their battles.” It’s true. No use battling about eating jello when your child has already eaten their broccoli (Oops…Parenting Surprises & Lesson’s Learned). However, the biggest battle a parent faces does not involve their children. The biggest battle a parent faces involves only themselves…and it is fought on three fronts.
The first front in this battle involves the memories we have of our own childhood. We remember the emotional hurts we experienced in our childhood and teen years. We project our own teen angst and misbehaviors onto our children and work to save them from the pains we remember. We also remember our own teen behavior…or should I say misbehavior, those risky or disobedient or down-right stupid behaviors we engaged in. Once again, we project them onto our teens and fear they will engage in the same behaviors and experience the same painful consequences we did…or worse!
The second front in the battle against ourselves as parents involves second guessing decisions we made when our teens were children. We look back and fear we didn’t do enough of something…or too much of something else…or the wrong thing completely. In reality, we likely did the best we could with the information and knowledge we had at the time. And, our children were (and are) resilient enough to overcome a few of our mistakes. In fact, connecting and loving our children will cover a multitude of mistakes (see part three of this experiment in An Amazing Parenting Insight Learned in Three Parts).
The third front in the battle of parenting is the “great what if.” We begin asking ourselves, “What if my child keeps going down this path?” “What if they don’t do all their homework?” “What if they don’t make the basketball team…or don’t make the school play…or miss the school dance…or…?” The list goes on. Unfortunately, we too often answer the “what if” with the most catastrophic scenarios imaginable.
Each of these battles push us toward
fear-based parenting. They push us to set stricter rules so our children won’t “make
the same mistakes we did.” Fear-based parenting can even lead to a parent invading
their teen’s treasured privacy because “I know what I did as a kid. I know
all the tricks. They’re hiding something in that room (or on that phone).”
Eventually, fear-based parenting turns dictatorial. Fear-based parents focus on
performance and achievement.
Guess what results from fear-based
parenting. You got it. Our children become defensive and even rebellious. Teens
end up engaging in the very behaviors we tried to prevent through our
fear-based frenzy of control, rigid rules, and invasion of privacy.
What’s the answer? How can you avoid this? Begin
by winning the battle against yourself as a parent—your fear of repeating your
past, your fear of making a mistake, and your fear of the “what if.”
Move from a fear-based parenting style to a parenting style guided by love and
recognition of your children’s developmental needs. Also, remember that your
children grew up in a different environment than you did. They had different parents
than you. They have different information than you. They might make different
choices than you. And when they make mistakes, you’ll deal with those mistakes
together. You will take the opportunity provided by mistakes and misbehaviors
to love them in spite of their mistakes and to help them learn from those
mistakes. Rather than let fears (the fears of “what was done” in the
past and the fear of “what if” this happens in the future) determine
your parenting response, let love and knowledge determine your parenting response.
Let your knowledge of your teen as a unique individual, with unique
developmental needs, and a recipient of your unique love guide your parenting
Our children and teens are under a lot of pressure when it comes to body image. They see the “perfect bodies” in pop culture through photoshopped magazine images, bodies of celebrities sculpted by personal trainers and time, and deceptive beauty created by make-up and camera angles on social media. Physical appearance and body image have become a hotbed of insecurity for our teens and young adults. But the University of Missouri has outlined a simple routine that can improve your teen’s body image. You can engage in this routine right in your own home and as a family. To uncover this routine and its benefits, the researchers from University of Michigan analyzed data from 12,000 students from more than 300 schools that stretched across all 50 states and Washington DC. Your children can benefit from this activity if they engage in it without you, but they will gain even greater benefit if you engage in it with them. It only requires a short amount of time and you probably already do it anyway. All you have to do is start engaging in this activity with your child and it can help improve their body image. What is this activity, this routine? Eating breakfast. That’s right. As simple as that. Research suggests that the more frequently a child ate breakfast during the week, the more positive their body image. And, the results were even greater if they ate breakfast with a parent. Eating with a parent allowed the parent to model a positive relationship with food, build stronger a parent-child relationship, and encourage a healthy start to the day. A.A. Gill, a British writer and critic known for food and travel writing, is credited with saying, “Breakfast is everything. The beginning, the first thing. It is the mouthful that is the commitment to a new day, a continuing life.” Breakfast not only serves as a commitment to the beginning of a new day; it serves as the beginning of a positive body image as well. So, buy a box of cereal, toast up some bagels, make some pancakes or fry some eggs. Whatever you choose, enjoy some breakfast with your children.
One of the most challenging (if not THE most challenging) job in the world is the job of parenting. Parenting brings new challenges every day. It demands different strategies for different situations and different children. It thrusts us into an awareness of our need for personal growth and pushes us to our limit. Is it any wonder we make a mistake here or there? I know I’ve made my share of mistakes (Read Oops…Parenting Surprises & Lessons Learned for more mistakes I made). Here are 5 mistakes parents often make without even realizing it. By becoming aware of these mistakes, we can avoid falling mindlessly into the miry muck of parenting they create.
the mistake of constantly pointing out what “not to do.” I often felt myself falling into this pit. “Don’t
yell.” Stop running.” “Don’t do that.” “Don’t
hit.” “Don’t turn the TV on.” “Stop fighting.” On and
on. It’s so easy to tell our children what they are doing wrong. Sometimes they
seem to give us so much opportunity to do so. However, it will prove much more
effective when we tell them what we want them “to do” instead. “Hold my
hand.” “Walk.” “Gentle.” “Tell me what’s
wrong.” “Get out a board game.” “Read a book.” Sure,
there are times we need to tell them “not to do” something, but
always follow it up with what they “can do” instead. Many times,
however, we can just tell them what they “can do.”
we expect more from our children than they know or are developmentally ready
Our children are not born experts; we need to teach them…everything.
Teach them how to whisper in the library. Teach them how to load the
dishwasher. Teach them how to clean a room “up to standard.” Don’t
assume they know; teach them. Teaching them involves more than just telling
them what to do. Pull up your sleeves and do it with them a few times. Teaching
is a hands-on activity that builds
connection and intimacy.
we model the wrong behavior.
I know I modeled the wrong behavior at times. If you don’t believe me, read
(blogs about parenting failures). We might react in anger to traffic and says
something we wish our children had never heard…because now they repeat it
all…the…time. Instead of modeling the “wrong” behavior, model as much
positive behavior as you can. Let them see you apologize for your wrongs. Let
them hear you speak the truth. Let them witness your affection for your spouse.
Let them hear you encourage and thank other people. Model the behaviors and
words you want them to follow.
exhaustion or frustration, we discipline our children when they are simply
being annoying. You know what I mean. Sometimes a
four-year-old acts like a four-year-old (go figure) and we get annoyed. They
ask questions constantly, a normal behavior that helps them learn; but we get
annoyed and tell them to sit in silence. They play chase through the house
while we are trying to get some work done so we send them to their rooms. They
spill a drink accidentally and we yell at them.
We have disciplined for normal, age-appropriate behaviors that were simply
annoying at the time. These behaviors are not misbehaviors requiring
discipline. If anything, these behaviors may simply require redirection or
simple instruction. Let kids be kids…and teach them to be aware of others.
We tend to
be all talk and no action. Parenting
is not merely a verbal task. You cannot sit in your chair and yell, “Turn
the radio down,” “Get your hand out of the cookie jar,” or
“Clean up this mess” and expect it to happen. Parenting is a hands-on job. We need to talk less and
act more. Nag less and take action. Get out of the chair. Walk over to your
child. Put a hand on their shoulder and look them in the eye before giving them
a request or directive. When they follow through, give them a high-five or a
simple “thank you.” If they ignore the request, follow through with an
appropriate consequence. It doesn’t have to be a crushing consequence. Just a
simple consequence. Can’t clean the room, lose the opportunity to go out (or
watch TV) until it is clean. Won’t turn the radio down, lose the radio for a
day. Won’t get your hand out of the cookie jar, no dessert today. You get the
idea. Less talk, more action.
Don’t get caught in the miry muck of parenting
by engaging in these mindless parenting mistakes. Stand on firm ground with mindful
action that will promote your childrens’ growth.