On Twitter where I get a lot of my material these days, I just read a tweet from a woman, I think her name is Tiffany Bridgé who connects teenage girls and their divorced dads. Actually, our social media intern told me about it and so I checked it out.
But what a job! What is more complicated than a teenaged girl? Lord have mercy. And now her parents are divorced and her father is trying to have a relationship with her and it is really one for…who can deal with this? You think of Alex Baldwin and his daughter Ireland. This seems pretty standard although not everybody gets caught on audio the way Alex did.
The truth is that there are many teenage girls who have a healthy, normal relationship with their fathers. It is not all like Alex and Ireland. But there are others that don’t. One thing is for sure is that many or maybe most of these girls end up siding with their mothers after this divorce. It is not to say that these women alienate their daughters from their fathers. Maybe not intentionally but the majority of girls will have a closer bond to their mother than to their father and if the mother is even slightly negative towards the father – or god forbid outright acrimonious – the daughter will correspondingly have a toxic relationship with her father.
Oftentimes, the fathers and daughters may even have had a good relationship when she was little only to have the relationship sour when she becomes a teenager. Suddenly, neither of them can relate to the other. She can barely conceal her contempt and he dreads having her over for the weekend because, well, it just isn’t a fun situation having screaming matches over stupid things with your kid. Moreover, he may have a new family and younger children and the last thing he needs is for the younger kids to imitate the behavior of this rebellious, angry person his daughter has become.
She on the other hand just feels like she doesn’t even know who this person is. Yes, biologically he is her father but that means what exactly? She no longer even cares.
Believe it or not, it could just be a phase. Teenage girls are impossible with everyone, even their teachers at school. They are just IMPOSSIBLE. But they grow up and grow out of this horrible phase and their dads have to just wait it out.
At the same time, it doesn’t mean accepting disrespect from your teenage daughter. The adults have to set boundaries and parameters and consequences for bad bahavior. You don’t have to keep saying “yes” to everything just to keep her happy if she is behaving badly. Tie her behavior to the perks she gets. Keep assuring her of your love. Show rather than tell. And don’t engage. If she is having tantrums and fits just tell her, “look, I’m your dad and I love you and always will but I do not accept this behavior and until you can behave in a more reasonable way, I suggest you give yourself a timeout.”
It’s hard dealing with teenagers and probably really, really hard for their beleaguered divorced dads. But if he hangs in there, things usually will improve….poor guy 🙂
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