Forgot your password?

5 Extra Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Teenage Daughter

By Edited Sep 22, 2016 4 9


Leading the Way
After writing “5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Daughter”, I decided to extend the list with an additional post.  Some of the tips might seem hokey and some might seem obvious, but if you glance down through the headers, you might find one that relates to you.

Before we start, ask yourself a critical question - What issue about your daughter irritates you the most?  If you answered attitude, lack of responsibility, or lack of direction you might enjoy reading the original 5 Tips article first and progress through the entire list. Each of the tips shares a real life story and addresses common issues we face as Dads.  Yes, Moms face many of the same issues, but I have learned from being married several years not to speak on her behalf.  Can you say “whipped”?   She describes me as a “classic”.  I am guessing that may be wife code for “snores while napping on Saturdays” but I may never know.  Anyways, during the process of raising 3 girls, we have had to develop techniques for to establish some level of structure in our lives.   Let’s jump in.

Tip # 6 - Learning to Drive

If you want to get a teenager’s attention, simply say the words “Want to learn how to drive?”  Their heads will perk up, eyes will burst wide open, and they will all but knock you over running for the door.  Teaching my girls to drive has been one of the most enjoyable tasks as a parent I have had the pleasure of providing.  The secret is to appear relaxed.  There will be a variety of anxieties that will rush through your head, but showing the “I have confidence in you” face at all times will increase your child’s confidence in the training process.  My wife tried to go out for a drive with our oldest daughter intending to share her knowledge, but unfortunately both ladies came back pretty upset and in tears.  My wife is not a risk taker and she kept stomping on the passenger side floor looking for the break and kept blurting “oh my” comments every 50 feet. While she was frightened to the bone, she also frightened our daughter during the trip.  Upon returning home, my wife passed me the keys and said “I’m all set, she’s all yours”.  Oops!

I use the build-up technique.  My goal is to start simple to build their confidence.  By doing so, I believe this reduces the likelihood of the new driver panicking or freezing at the wheel.   On the 1st lesson, I sit in the passenger seat with a coffee cup full of water resting on my lap.  I tell the enthusiastic pilot the lesson ends when my lap gets wet from the cup spilling. In great confidence, they start the car in our driveway, put the vehicle in gear and nail the gas.  You guessed it.  The 1st lesson ends in 3 seconds.  I get out of the car with a wet crotch and they chuckle with me over the situation.  With the tension now behind us after a big laugh, I refill the cup with water, get into the driver seat, they get into the passenger seat, I pass them the cup with water and grin as they stare at the cup of water with anticipation. As I gently back up the vehicle and drive the car down the road, their 1st lesson of easy on the gas and easy on the brake sets in.

The focus of the entire experience is to get them to relax emotionally and build on each experience.   As the lessons become more difficult, we developed a routine of stopping at McDonalds for a McCafe Frappe.  With no cell phones or texting the entire trip, we now have a chance to talk about what they learned from that day’s lesson and anything else that they decide to bring up for discussion.    I say discussion, but they do most of the talking.


Tip # 7 - Nursing Home / Death

You would assume this section to be a downer, morbid, or boring but it’s not.  An elderly man having lived a great life, my dad passed away last year.  He was in a nursing home for 9 months prior to his passing.  During this time, my mother’s world seemed to be crumbling around her.

Also during this time period, I lived and worked 3 hours away as a contractor, so taking time off from work meant no income.   Being her oldest son, I needed to find a balance.   After my 1st weekend trip to visit, I off-the-cuff asked one of my teenage girls if she’d like to go with me to visit Grampa and keep me (and Grammy) entertained.  On the ride up, I began to wonder if this was such a good idea.  A couple reasons for my reservation.

  1. Was my daughter going to be bored the entire weekend?
  2. Was visiting a nursing home going to upset her?
  3. Was she going to survive a weekend without wifi?

We spoke briefly on the ride up.  The conversation was 15 minutes and she read the remaining 2 ½ hours.  Not an overly chatty person so I wasn’t surprised by the quiet trip.

After 2 nights staying at my folk’s house and trips to the local nursing home to see my dad, my daughter and I headed back home.  On the ride home I asked her “How was your weekend?”   A short response with a simple shrug of her shoulders emerged from the seat next to me.  Then I asked “So, what are 3 things you enjoyed most about the weekend?”  The response somewhat threw me as she raved about a variety of topics; how nice it was to see Grampa, how she had fun playing cards with Grammy, how the food at the nursing home was better than she expected, and how she like staying at Grammy’s house.  With curiosity, I then asked more about each response.  The ride home was 2 hours of chatter and she took a nap the last hour after she ran out of breath.  Go figure!

Two weeks later, I asked my teenager is she would like to go again and she jumped up and said sure.  This turned into a twice a month routine to visit my dad and mom on the weekends while he was in the nursing home.  Each trip we would take Grammy to a new restaurant for breakfast.  The tip here is don’t assume you need to shelter your child from the nursing home setting, don’t assume they won’t understand the reality of the situation, and given a chance to come up with ideas for entertainment or conversation, your child’s creativity may surprise you.

Tip # 8 - Dating

Dads want to know their daughters are safe.  Unfortunately, our love for them leads us to be overly protective.  The realist side of me tells me I want to know she can make informed decisions and good choices when I’m not around.  How to bridge this divide?

I found the best strategy is to be candid with your child.  When at a school event and we observe a student being disrespectful towards their boyfriend/girlfriend, we point out the issue and mention to the girls “there’s the kind of jerk you should avoid”.  If we observe someone playing nicely with their younger siblings or with a younger niece or nephew, I will mention how nice it is to see someone who is caring towards others.  If, over dinner, one of my girls mentions a student who was violent at school I ask what kind of crowd do they hang with or associate with and give that look of disapproval. 

Never which one, but always sharing with them the characteristics to avoid is the best approach.  I think of dating as another example of them making an informed decision, a conscience choice to who they want to affiliate themselves.  My role as a parent is not to make decisions for them, but to coach them and share with them different ways to look at things and encourage them to make solid choices.

I want my children to be outgoing and have confidence in themselves.  I want them to surround themselves with other caring individuals.  I want them to develop long-term relationships.  I want them to know I trust their judgment and, in the process, they come to trust me as not being judgmental about their choices and tend to share with me their thoughts of what is happening in their lives.

Tip # 9 - Voting

When did you first vote?   Every one of my daughters, since age 3, has gone with me to our local City Hall during elections.  Living in a small town, I know quite a few folks in line waiting to vote and also most of the individuals who handle the check-in / check-out process.  I walk in holding my daughter’s hand and announce “I’m here with my political advisor”.   My loud announcement always receives a warm welcome and a chuckle from most in line.  While the vote itself is an individual choice, the voting process is a social event here in NH.

I never voted until I was 25 years old.  I didn’t know how.  No one ever taught me.  The “voting booth” was distant, the process secretive, and foreign. Not knowing the process, I didn’t originally participate in it when I turned 18 years of age.

I wanted each of my girls to know the process, know where to go to vote, and know that it’s okay to make it a family event.  Every one of my girls while in elementary school has chaperoned me to the polls. Every one of my girls has held “The Sacred Pen” as I pointed to which circle to fill in and we cast my vote.  Everyone one of my girls has shared with me on the ride to the voting center what they heard about the candidates on television and in school.  And every one of my girls understands the term “civic duty” and I encourage them to participate in the community the live in.  They give out “I voted” stickers at the polling station.  Stickers and kids go well together.

The voting booth and the voting process is another opportunity to share perspectives with your child and introduce them to those in your community.

Tip # 10 - College

One of my most enjoyable road trips was with my oldest daughter to visit colleges one weekend.  She was trying to narrow her choice list prior to applying to several colleges.  The conversations between schools were the most interesting as she expressed what she liked/disliked about each visit and each college’s approach to the all famous Campus Tour.

Once she completed her applications, was accepted to a couple of schools, and made her decision based on a variety of factors, she shared with us what influenced her decision.  For me, it was about her decision process and the school she selected was a secondary concern.  I had confidence she would succeed regardless of which school she attended.  Passion and drive will flourishes from personal selection, not from choices imposes upon them.

Now that she is attending college, I hand write her a letter every Sunday and mail it via postal mail.  Why the old fashioned way?  I asked her how many text messages she gets a week. Response:  over 800.  I asked her how many letters she a week. Response: only 1-2.   So, I decided to hand write her each week as it seemed more personal.  To add some entertainment to the situation, I change the ship to name on the envelope each week.  One week it was “The Best Daughter in the World”, another week it was “Daughter of a Proud Father”, and last week was “The Society Against Boring Letters”.   In her first year of college, I have not yet put her name on the envelope and I have always come up with quirky names instead.  Given a Box# and street address on the envelope, the college post office doesn’t care to who an envelope is addressed to.  They just stuff it in the box.

Additionally, I pick off-the-wall topics to write her about ranging from the amount of toilet paper a college consumes (we estimated 12 tons per month at our local university) to the pompous nature of English professors who lecture about proper writing skills, but have never successfully published a book.

Apparently, the letters have become a hit.  She joked with me last week that she shares them with a group of friends in her dorm.   College is stressful – being in a new environment and the constant focus on grades in the academic community.  Breaking the mold of being a conservative father by poking fun at myself and providing a once a week chuckle to her circle of friends has kept me feeling I’m still a part of her life and supporting her.

In Summary

A relationship is the culmination of shared events, shared thoughts, and shared interests.  Developing your child’s confidence and communication skills will pave the way for an open dialogue down the road.  I hope the tips are helpful.



Mar 11, 2014 2:00pm
Thanks for the article. Good tips. I'm raising girls too. Its not nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be - so far, ha ha.
Mar 16, 2014 2:14am
Thanks for your feedback.

I find my relationship with my 3 girls to be more cooperative than contentious.

I have them participate in many of the decisions I make, so they learn good decision making skills. More importantly, each conversation is an opportunity to share perspectives and learn from each other. I’m amazed the cultural shift with technology that is occurring (specifically social media). Privacy is a foreign concept to them, as is patience. Though we talk openly about the "cultural divide" of my growing up versus the timing of their growing up and impact of current events during each time period.

Mar 16, 2014 9:03am
Yep, keep 'em talking, keep the lines of communication open. You're totally right about the technological/cultural/social divide. It is remarkable.
Mar 12, 2014 7:44am
I am also the parent of a teenaged daughter and I loved these tips, especially #10. Handwriting letters seems like such a lost art these days even though handwritten letters feel much more personal and special then email or texts. My daughter will be heading off to college this fall and I just may incorporate #10 as a special way of keeping in touch with her. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
Mar 16, 2014 2:48am
This comment has been deleted.
Mar 22, 2014 3:37am
@JLMThompson - Funny you mention #10. That's one of my favorite!

My daughter was home from college this past week on Spring break. One of her high school friends, who attends a different college than her, stopped by to visit and one of the conversations that popped up out of nowhere was #10.

Both girls lit up with excitement as they said their FAVORITE time of the day was glancing in their mailbox to see if they "got a surprise" that day. It is like opening a box of Cracker Jacks each day, that feeling of anticipation.

Also, her friend jumped in to say "Wow, don't you love that someone took the time to write - it's not like a text - I'm keeping the letters from my parents to share with my kids one day".

Saving a box of letters for kids they don't even have yet. How many kids get excited while home from college and say "hey, I want to save my folks text messages to share with my kids one day"?

The road trips to colleges during her selection process were some of the best 1-on-1 discussions we have had. We had an interesting conversation about how different colleges present themselves to their future customers.

Thanks for your feedback.

Mar 21, 2014 4:58am
Great article! My daughter is 26 now. I'm trying to figure out how to be a good parent to an adult. Your article brought back some great memories.
Mar 22, 2014 3:57am
Hi Bill,

With 3 girls, I found providing them options and coaching them on making prudent/informed decisions has been the key to my rapport with them.

I don't tell them what to do, I share with them my observations of the options they have, the value/issues with each option, and then ask them which they find best suits their needs.

I also include them in household decisions, such as buying a new car (or not) and have shared with them since they were 6+ years old how interest/loans work.

I work as a contractor (business/data analyst) and my wife as an employee at a bank. We are open with our girls about the plus/minus of being an employee versus being a contractor so they understand why Daddy doesn't get paid to be at home during Holidays while Mommy does.

I find this approach of being candid has worked well for us. I view my role as a parent is to prepare them to make informed decisions when I'm below the grass line, so I started while they were young showing them the ropes of being an adult. This "coaching" approach has been well received by them and has carried into their adulthood. Where I'm not judgmental (telling them what to do), I merely help them through their decision process by asking them questions and providing them a decision "process".

My oldest still calls me to talk though her tough decisions.

I hope the extra thoughts are helpful.

Mar 28, 2014 6:13am
Thank you for sharing these good tips. I read both your articles, and as a mother of daughters I will surely implement a few of them (not the driving lessons or the college ones yet, as my girls are only 8 and 12). Well done :-)
Mar 29, 2014 3:38am

@Larah -

Glad you enjoyed both articles.

I've had the fortunate luxury of having healthy, active and confident girls. The girls are each 3 years apart in age, so as they grow we have learned from each experience what works and what doesn't seem to.

I seem to have developed this habit of asking "So what 3 things did you enjoy most about this weekend?" It's interesting to hear their different perspectives. But more important, it's the fact that the "old man" asked that is most important. I found that if you ask, and show an ability to truly listen, you will develop/hone the parent-daughter feedback loop as a common (almost 2nd nature) event in the house.

All my girls are confident and not shy to share a thoughtful perspective on a topic. Also, they are not shy to step up and speak if something is not right in their mind (not only at the house, but also in a public setting). They have developed what I call "fire fighter" leadership skills...when there's a problem, don't run away from it, step up, assess, and take positive action.

Thoughtful, engaging, and confident verbal conversation... now there's something new in a world where most kids sit in their room and wear their thumbs out texting for hours and, yet, are too shy to (or were coached how to) give a classroom presentation for a homework assignment.

Behind going to the dentist, public speaking is the 2nd most common fear in our society.

Add a new comment - No HTML
You must be logged in and verified to post a comment. Please log in or sign up to comment.

Explore InfoBarrel

Auto Business & Money Entertainment Environment Health History Home & Garden InfoBarrel University Lifestyle Sports Technology Travel & Places
© Copyright 2008 - 2016 by Hinzie Media Inc. Terms of Service Privacy Policy XML Sitemap

Follow IB Lifestyle