Do your teens ever ask you for more trust, more freedom? In the letters that follow, a teenage girl and her dad negotiate these issues. They highlight the importance of a father’s affirmation for his daughter whilst advocating boundaries as ways to safely meet the teenager’s need for love, belonging, validation, and room to mature.
Letter from Daughter to Father
I feel that lately, we’ve been having a difficult time connecting and communicating. I also think it’s important for me to write this for you to let you know what I’m going through, so that maybe you would understand where I’m coming from and why I sometimes say the things I do, or react the way that I do to you.
As a teenager, I face daily challenges that are physical, emotional and intellectual and wish that I could have your support in all three areas.
Emotionally, it is really important to me that I can find acceptance among my peers. I know I need to be smart and hardworking to succeed, but I also need to have a voice and fit in with my friends from school. I have to speak their language, which might sometimes be confounding to you. Please remember that I’m not doing this to shut you out of my world. It’s just the way we talk today and I’d love to share it with you – you only have to ask.
You might not see the point in me spending my free time online, but that is where just about all of my friends hang out to share the things that we are interested in. Being on Facebook, Twitter and MSN helps me to fit in and not get left behind socially.
It would hurt a lot to lose the closeness and camaraderie that I enjoy with my friends. That is why I make the effort to fit in and spend time with them. It’s fun, there is freedom, a sense of belonging and acceptance.
But Dad, you got to know that what I need even more than all the above is for you to trust me. I know that by spending my time with my friends you might think I’m at risk. But while there is a lot of sexual experimentation and activity among teens, what I need is support from you so that I know how to sort through my emotions, manage the peer pressure and understand the responsibilities and consequences of my decisions.
I know you love me and are trying to protect me when we have our quarrels over me dating guys who are over eighteen. All I want is for you to understand my thoughts and feelings. Hear me out and speak calmly to me. I don’t want to be defensive or not share my emotional life with you. I just want to have open communication to be able to share things about my life and relationships with you without being judged.
My reason for writing to you is to open communications with you. I am no longer a little girl, and it is good for us to communicate in a way that reflects that. I want us to be able to share things heart to heart, especially so I can have your affirmation on things apart from studies. Most of all, I just want us to grow closer.
I love you, Dad.
Letter from Father to Daughter
My Dearest Daughter,
I know I come across as a strict and old-fashioned father. I want to show you my love and concern but I do not always know how. It is frustrating for me when I do not know how to tell you to be careful and to watch out for the things happening around you without drawing a fed-up or angry response from you.
I am very worried when you go out till 4 am and date older boys because I am concerned that they will take advantage of you. I know you are no longer a child. You are 15 and need to find yourself, your identity as a teenager and young lady. I hope you will learn to set boundaries and limits on yourself for your own well-being. It is normal that you like the attention and admiration from boys, but I love you very much as a father and want to protect you from being hurt.
You have many gifts, talents and strengths. I should praise you more. I don’t because I fear if I praise you too much, you will become proud. I think this is inaccurate thinking and I am willing to change. I want to be able to communicate with you openly, for you to confide in me your problems and for us to solve them together. This is because you are most precious to me.
I worry over news of young girls getting preyed on or sexually involved with teenagers or older men. It is understandable that you may be curious about sexuality. However you must make a choice to know your values and make a stand not to get involved in sex before you are married. I don’t want you to be hurt, especially not when the potential damage from premarital sex to a person’s body, mind and heart can be lasting and difficult to overcome.
When I set a curfew time and insist you come home by 9 pm rather than 4 am, I am trying to teach you about boundaries, protecting yourself, choosing responsible actions rather than doing what you feel without regarding other people’s feelings.
I hope you will balance your need for freedom, experimentation and finding yourself (which is part of growing up) with a respect for your parents’ feelings, values and belief systems. Most importantly, I hope that you will choose actions that will keep you from danger and prolonged suffering, actions that will develop healthy habits that serve you for life.
I really want to spend more time with you, to talk and enjoy activities together, which bond us. I want us to be close and not be strangers.
Please do teach me to understand the language of your peers. Perhaps you can also help me on my online journey and teach me about Facebook and Twitter.
I hope we can be open with each other, and be able to say sorry when we are wrong and forgive each other. As long as there is forgiveness, openness, willingness to communicate and humility, any problem can be solved and any hurt healed.
I am always here for you.
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About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.
First published on 02-08-2011