The elementary age is crushed by the arrival of the teen years and the household is assaulted by the first waves of powerful hormonal tides. Dad does not often hear the melodious greeting of angelic voices as he arrives. He must announce himself in a loud voice and hope his message penetrates the tightly shut doors behind which daughters immerse themselves in strange music. Surliness, short answers, and a lack of cooperation are the norm. Some days the daughters may join Mom and really pile it on.
The shadowy and mysterious time of the month becomes a concern. Dad must learn to recognize PMS among multiple women. There is an old wives’ tale, presumably shared by old wives, that women living in the same house tend to sync periods. OK, that might not be too bad. One week out of every month will be tough and Dad can hide in the garage until the sun shines again. The reality experienced by most fathers is each lady requires her own week of attention. A man with one wife and 3 daughters would be consigned to the garage for 4 weeks of the month. This is the driving force behind the man cave syndrome and men’s desire for large TVs, recliners, and refrigerators in their workshops.
A Dad with teen daughters may not recognize elementary days have passed as he continues to plan family outings, perhaps a hike in a new park or a climb up a mountain not yet conquered and claimed by his family. Dad can’t wait to get started on the adventure and hits the floor early, giddy from the excitement of doing something besides work. He wakes the teens for a sunrise departure and experiences a quiet breakfast table. His girls are trapped in a zombie-like state and move slowly if at all. This is normal. Teen brains, awash in hormones, take longer to start in the morning and often run intermittently until well after noon. Try to control your male exuberance and make sure you pack chocolate treats in the van. Teen daughters are susceptible to bribes.
During the teen years Dads must learn to interpret daughter grunts. Grunting may be the limit of teen-to-parent communication even though teen-to-teen communication is prolific and verbose. When we speak to our teens they hear the same tones used in the Charlie Brown movies to represent adult speech, “Wha-wha-wha-wha-wha-wha. Wha. Wha.” After another silent road trip, I commented to my daughter, “Well, it has been nice not talking with you.” We had a big laugh and a special memory the two of us treasure.
Fathers often experience a tragic loss of intelligence during the daughters’ teen years. Science has not been able to find a cause or a cure. Thankfully the malady is temporary and most Dads magically recover after a few years of suffering. They may even surpass their previous levels of wisdom.
We will be presented with major gloatation (a new word just coined) opportunities as our girls toggle through their teens. As the charter member of the daughter’s fan club, Dad is granted unfettered access to the star of the show. There are championships to win, contests to enter, academic achievements to conquer and Dad can be there celebrating and enjoying every moment. My daughters made me feel special when I was near the front of their hug dispersion after their big moments. Supporting their efforts as they discover who and what they are is one of the greatest privileges in my life.
Our teen daughters develop and exhibit their own standards and beliefs and we need to allow them a little space. Good decisions and bad decision both offer life lessons. Loosen the iron grip a bit but certainly watch over them. I would rather have my girls leave home at 18 with convictions that are solidly their own than have them try to carry my enforced rules. One scenario serves them well. One does not.
The teen stage does not last forever. Be strong and consistent and do not fail to show your love to your daughter. This is a turbulent time for her, too. Take a deep breath then try and recall all you stuffed into your experience bank between ages 13 and 18. Or maybe we should skip that part? God is preparing you both for what comes next. Soon the daughter will go away, perhaps to college or to the military or to a wedding. The teen years prepare you both and soften the separation trauma.
To be continued…
Up next – Adult Daughters