How To Be a Better Dad: Knowing When to Step In or Back Off 

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How To Be a Better Dad: Knowing When to Step In or Back Off 

How To Be a Better Dad is the fatherhood and co-parenting section on SingleDad. Share and exchange great fatherhood advice from our members who are in all stages of fatherhood. This month, learn about how to respect your child’s boundaries and choices, but not ignore red flags. 

    Dear SingleDad, I’m 41 and have been separated from my partner for 3 years. We have one daughter together who is 13 years old. I know separated parents is never easy, I know hitting the teen years is never easy. My daughter is figuring herself out, finding new crowds, hobbies, interests, etc. I support her, but I don’t feel good about these new people she is meeting. I don’t want to press her and have her turn away from me or go to her mother then possibly have that be another issue. What do I do? 

-Doug 

The teen years and separated parents are never easy, you’re right. It’s quite complicated. Your understanding of that is appreciated by your daughter I’m sure. Finding herself is totally normal as you know, but is it scary? Yes. Why? Because she’s growing. She’s living, learning, and all you want is to keep her protected. 

  • Why don’t you like these friends? 

Sit with yourself and reflect on what it truly is about this new crowd that doesn’t rub you the right way. Could it be you not wanting your baby to grow up? Are the changes overwhelming you? Is there a gut feeling you have that sets off an alarm? 

  • Honesty 

Now, you said you don’t want your daughter to run to her mother and turn you away. Keep in mind, it is not a competition. Having honesty between you and your ex about how you feel may help the situation a lot, and give your ex an idea of what is going on. Who knows, your ex may be feeling the same about this crowd. Or your ex may be able to provide reassurance. Your daughter is a child you both share. You’re on the same team here! 

  • Is your daughter in serious trouble? 

Again, back to the gut instincts or what you may know. Is your daughter following a dark path? Is she being harmed or harming others? If so, that is the time to step in, create a plan, and find help. If that’s not the case, keep communication open with your daughter, so she feels she can come to you. Life is all about lessons and with the right support system by her side she will be able to learn them on her own and quickly. So, keep her safe, show her support, but if there is no reason to step in  allow her to find her way. 

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