Can you lose your temper in an argument with your teenage daughter, not speak to her all evening, and have your relationship BETTER the next day than it was before? In this surprisingly simple approach to re-connecting with your daughter, Guy shows you how to turn fights into hugs!
Very recently I had another opportunity to practice what I preach about life with my teenage daughter.
The very real thing about teaching others – is that you have to up your own game and make sure you practice what you preach!
I tell others and myself that we need to practice a few simple ideas when our daughter (or anyone) makes our blood boil; and it usually goes something like this:
- To take a deep breath and think before speaking
- Leave and allow yourself to calm down before reacting
- Ask a few questions to make sure you have all the information before judging the situation.
But more often than I’d like to admit, these steps are ignored and I go straight into blast mode. I’m sure you know what I mean!
Tired + Expectations = 2 x Trouble!
The context in this case was that I had been up and working (mostly on my farm) from before sun-up until well after the sun had set. I had just grabbed a cup of tea and was on the couch having a few moments before I had to get up again and cook dinner for my date-night with my wife. I felt like I deserved a short rest! Anyone else been there?! I bet you have.
My 12 year old son had also been working with me for about 75% of the day, and had been mowing the lawns until he became to unwell to continue. It was 7 pm and he was now lying on another couch and asked if he could watch a 1 hr DVD. I said yes. It would be done just around his bedtime.
Go To Your Room!
One of my daughters came into the room and proceeded to ‘tell me off’ because my son needed to have a shower etc before bed. I began to explain to her what I said he could do and why – but my daughter wouldn’t drop it. I took it as disrespect and raising my voice told her to go to her room. My blood was boiling – driven by my tiredness and my interpretation of my daughter’s words and manner as disrespect for my authority and my right to reward my son for his hard work when he wasn’t feeling well.
I couldn’t bring myself to go and see my daughter and calm things down – I was angry and knew I needed to calm down before speaking to her.
But I had another commitment. My wife was expecting me to get dinner cooked for her and I. I didn’t have time to spend the time needed to sort it out with my daughter – let alone calm down first! It could take all evening ….. What was I to do?
Pen Mightier Than The Sword
I went and grabbed a sheet of paper from the printer and wrote out a reference to a passage of scripture that came to mind. I then wrote out 10 points that got my point of view across. I then handed this short manifesto to my daughter (who had locked herself in her room!) and went out to have my date-night with my wife.
The beauty of this approach was:
a. it got my thoughts down clearly without all the emotion
b. it wouldn’t get ambushed by my daughter’s agenda (gave her a chance to calm down too), and
c. it gave her time to consider my point of view while I had something else that required my attention.
Did It Work?
I didn’t actually speak to my daughter until the next day. It so happened that the next day was Father’s Day. Oh the irony! I didn’t feel much like a good father!
How was it going to go?? … I wasn’t sure if my daughter had accepted what I had written down. I kind-of wanted to avoid her, as I didn’t want to spoil things for my other kids.
Then the kids all came in with breakfast …
Straight away I new that the daughter I’d been fighting with had been the driving force behind this – because this was a creation I had seen her make before!
Fluffy Greek pancake stack with ice-cream, maple syrup and caramelized walnuts, juice, tea and fruit salad.
And she also gave me a card that said she was sorry for disrespecting me and that she had forgiven me for losing my temper. My heart melted faster than the ice-cream!
Best Breakfast Ever!
So this became the best breakfast ever! – and not just because of the food (which was awesome!)- but because my relationship with my teenage daughter was restored!
We later exchanged a hug in the hallway and a few quiet words – relationship restored and lessons learnt by both of us.
Men, this is what your daughters need from you.
“Your kids don’t need you to be perfect – They don’t need you to perfectly follow all the ‘great dad’ rules. They need you to be real and uncompromising in your love for them” Guy M.
So what was in my letter that worked so well?
I’m not actually going to tell you all of it – for one I don’t have it any more; but also it was private. However, I did communicate in equal measure my point of view, my expectations of her as my daughter, my uncompromising love for her and also my humility in taking responsibility for my fault and asking for her forgiveness.
The thing is though, we already have a great relationship. It is a fiery one at times; but we have some secrets that provide us with a foundation that ensures even when we fight, that the other person still loves us.
Learning Is A Life-long Journey
You would think with 9 children I would know it all. I don’t. I have plenty of these types of experiences that I do my best to learn from, but you and I are still human. We can’t be perfect – and it is just as well we are not!
So the next time you mess up with your kids – don’t throw a pity party or beat yourself up about it. Use it as an opportunity to learn and to coach your young person – because you are not only raising them to be adults – but to also (potentially) to be parents themselves.
All the best to you and your family.
P.S. Oh, and if you want to know what scripture I used in my letter, it was Matthew 20:1-15. The context was that as a parent it was my right to do good to my children how I see fit. That my doing of good (whether it is a gift, having mercy, giving praise etc) does not take away from another child. They should not be envious; and not have an ‘evil eye’ because ‘mine is good’.
P.S.S. As always, please leave a comment and let me know about your similar experiences
P.S.S. Don’t forget that ebook “7 ways to change the mood in your home when you have teenage daughters”