Jon Mays with beard

I need to enjoy this time with my daughter. This is what has been said to me for nearly 10 years. At age 10, it’s still special, and the warning is mainly for when she turns 13. Things will change then. “Oh you’ll see. You only have a few years left.”

They began saying things like this early on, when she was a toddler. “Enjoy this age, they are so loving. Everything you do is amazing to them. You are Superman.” It is true. Fixing old toys like light-up glowing dogs and plastic guitars made me the hero who could fix anything. I also was incredibly strong since I could lift her so high. She would jump up excitedly and run to the door when I came home at night. And want to spend as much time with me as possible. Life was fun. Full of games and excitement and fantasy.

And they kept saying it, even when she turned 6, and then 7. “Oh, that’s still a sweet age,” they say, “but cherish it because it all changes when they are teenagers.” They say, “Mine won’t even look at me. Or listen to me. Or talk to me. The other day I waved at her and she ignored me.”

All this happens at 13, they say, but some say it happens at 11 or 12. Depends on the person.

But universally, I have been told that everything changes at age 13. It’s the end. Time for despair. It’s over. Done. Kaput.

So I say this preemptively, teenage girls should listen to their fathers. They also need to spend time with them and talk to them and remain close. But most importantly, they should listen to them. I’m saying this now so that it becomes a normal thing by the time she turns 13. Everyone has to participate.

Fathers know of what they speak. They’ve been around the block and they know boys and school and sports and music and art and how to build things or make things better. They know what it’s like to grow up and go through things, and though times are much different, some things remain very much the same.

Teenage girls should listen to their fathers.

There is also the arc of when the daughter comes back for some dad wisdom. In the movies, it’s usually when they are older teens or young adults and it ends with the dance at the wedding. Real tear jerker stuff. But why does there have to be some pulling away to come together? Life has enough drama.

This is why teenage girls should listen to their dads.

Another is that more often than not, dads are right about things. Maybe they are a bit protective or overbearing but it’s all for good reasons right?

Granted, there is a special bond between a mother and a daughter. You can’t break it. It’s special. And deserved. Moms do a ton of work.

But there is also the matter of remembering all the time dads spend with their daughters. After all, dads do spend an inordinate amount of time playing with dolls, watching Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, coming up with new games or activities, going to the store in the middle of the night looking desperately for Baby Benadryl, doing the laundry, sitting in playhouses, volunteering at school, making breakfast, learning how to braid hair, driving to school, helping out, going to soccer games ... and you know, it’s all worth it. Every single second. And when it ends, you will think, “what happened?” At least that’s what I’ve been told.

So teenage girls should listen to their fathers. We will only have you around for another few years and that time is precious and fleeting. We desperately want to imbue our wisdom and make your life better, easier, meaningful. We want this for you because we love you, and want you to be happy. We know life can be tremendously difficult and we want to give you all the tools to get through it and succeed — even without us. And that’s the most difficult thing, but also the most natural. For us, it’s really the only thing that truly matters.

And that’s why teenage girls should listen to their fathers.

Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at jon@smdailyjournal.com. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.

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(7) comments

Jorg

Unfortunately, there are “fathers” that girls should not listen to, or yield to. A sad fact, indeed, that especially abortion deniers should keep in mind.

Jorg

Let’s not underestimate what an older brother can mean for a sister! We were fortunate enough to have a son first, who from day one took exceptionally good care of his 2-year younger sister. He protected her with unlimited patience, taught her how to behave and do things, even taking her along when he and his boy friends were up to something fun. She became very comfortable with boys at an early age, somewhat of a tomboy, climbing trees and having fun, and trying to follow him academically, graduating with a degree in economics and eventually ending up as international marketing manager for a European medical firm, - alot thanks to the model she had in her brother, while always maintaining a warm relationship with me and her Mom, and never disappointing us!

edkahl

How fortunate you are and what a great piece of advice that I can completely endorse as a father of 2 girls who have grown into wonderful mothers. Fathers are very important to girls self esteem. The incredible heart warming reward is grandchildren

BenToy

Great article and brings back memories that you are about to experience in some fashion…

Eldest is now 46 (made me “grandpa Ben”) and youngest is 40. No other kids

Very affectionate family with lots of hugs and kisses throughout their childhood. Holding hands everywhere we went. Sitting on my shoulders and loved being able to see over adults in the crowd.

Then one day at Hillsdale Mall…Kelley violently threw my hand and pushed me away…”Dad, it is NOT cool for those gals to see me holding your hand”…wanted to cry, as knew that was the beginning…she was 10…

Thought was ready with Brigitte, but she did a similar at 8…and downtown.

Lost most of my hair during their subsequent red/blue/green/purple hair days…sprinkled in with piercings & “dad you don’t want to know, so don’t ask”… Plus, science says +70% of dads who father only girls go bald sooner than other men…

But, both apologized in their late teens and again several times in their early 20’s…saying they now understood…and repeated “dad you don’t want to know, so don’t ask”…

Kelley called one day to apologize again…”dad, caught myself saying the exact same things to Adriano that you used to say to me”…

Won’t have it any other way…

Dirk van Ulden

Jon - you are dating yourself. Fathers are now referred to as non-birthing parents. I was also alerted to the quite sudden attitude change of our daughter around 14 years old. Having seen the disaster that my father and some of my friends experienced with their daughters, I decided to insist on having frequent discussions with my little angel. At first she resisted but eventually she seemed to welcome my approach. Thus, it wasn't that just she was listening, but so was I. As you said over time she did come back and has been, for some time, a married, birthing parent of two. We still frequently talk, she is grateful for the discussions that we had, and I ended up being her proud father.

Tafhdyd

Jon,

Thanks for a really good read for today. It reminds me of the quote "A son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter for all of her life".

Ray Fowler

Wow, Jon... what a great column.

I treasured those days when my daughter looked at me like I was a super hero. Then, she became a teen and things did seem to change. However, as you described... she came back. Even though she is a strong, independent woman, she will seek my advice on a variety of topics. Our daughters may "put away childish things" but those memories will never be put away.

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