Teenagers Still Need Their Dads

Despite the fact that teens tend to push their parents away (some for developmentally good reasons), dads still have a crucial role to play in the lives of adolescents. The following are ideas to keep in mind for a parent of an evolving son or daughter.


1. The relationship is key!

If a father wants to have an influence on their teenager’s lives, this ability will start and stop with the depth of their relationship with their teen. Adolescents who feel heard, understood, respected and loved by their dad will be much more likely to listen, take their parent’s concerns and suggestions seriously, and to reciprocate that love. Teens have a lot to learn from their parent’s experiences and wisdom, and they will be more open to it if they feel loved and respected. Having special one-on-one time with them gives both parties the chance to hear each other and stay close. Create some fun rituals with each of your children to keep your goodwill account full.

2. Encouragement

Fathers can also encourage their kids to stretch, take risks, and get out of their comfort zones more so than moms. It is beneficial for teens to have experiences where they can initiate, create, push the envelope, make things happen and have adventures. This builds confidence, independence and a can-do attitude.

3. Setting Boundaries

For many couples, dads seem to have the ability to stay firmer with holding their kids accountable to agreements. It’s certainly not that moms can’t, it just seems like fathers, at times, stay more detached and matter-of-fact with their follow through. And teenagers still need clear boundaries and discipline at a time in their lives when their prefrontal cortexes haven’t completely evolved, making it difficult for them to think before they act and control their impulses.

4. Modeling

Sons and daughters need to see their dads treat their moms with respect, work out marital disagreements peacefully and effectively, and have a loving and respectful relationship. This will become an important template for them as they start dating as well as later on when they enter their own marriages. Sons will look to their dads for how to live a life in balance and in integrity, and a father’s actions will always speak louder than words. Remember they are always watching us whether we are aware of it or not.

5. Special role with daughters

Dads tend to do more physical and verbal teasing with their daughters, and this kind of bantering improves girls abilities to handle feedback and helps toughen them up a bit. Girls can be sensitive to feedback and criticism from teachers, coaches, and peers, so they need to be able to take it and give it back. This will prepare them to handle boys and their mischief as well. It is incredibly important for girls to have dads who treat them as competent adults and encourage them to go for it, but it is also valuable to be able to curl up in your dad’s lap and regress a bit after a tough day.

6. Being present

One dad told me he was looking at old home movies he had shot of various events with his children, and even though he had been there (filming the parties and outings), he had no recollection of what had transpired. He was so focused on his burgeoning business during that time in his life that he was never fully present with his family, causing him to miss out. Be sure you are not so distracted with your thoughts, worries and work that your kids don’t get the full you. Jessie Jackson’s quote reiterates this idea: “Kids need your presence, not your presents.”

Dr. Jordan is a Behavioral pediatrician, Author, School & Media consultant and the leading expert on raising girls.  His latest book is Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women about raising adolescent girls in today’s culture. Visit his website at: http://drtimjordan.com/


“Sleeping Beauties, Awakened Women: Guiding the Transformation of Adolescent girls” – Tim Jordan M.D.

“The Wonder of Girls” – Michael Gurian

“The Purpose of Boys” – Michael Gurian

“Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” – Meg Meeker


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