Dads: Bonding with Your Tween

Bonding with kids is of the utmost importance when they are tweens. Here are some great tips for dads who want to build a lasting relationship with their tween now.

Today, the word “tween” refers to kids who are not “little” kids anymore and are not quite teenagers. These are kids between the ages of 9-12. It is often hard to connect with this age because they are showing their independence more and more each day. It is, however, vital that parents make the effort to bond with their tween, and that especially applies to dads. Dads, if you have a tween, here are some great tips to help you bond with your tween child.

Talk to them

The first thing you should do when you want to bond with your tween is to take the time to talk to them—and listen to what they have to say. They may not open up to you about every aspect of their life; however, they are at the age where their ideas about life are changing. If you do not take the time to talk and listen, you will never really know your child. In addition, when you talk to your child, make sure that this is a good time for both you and your child. Do not lecture or pick on your child. They need you and they need you to really listen to what they have to say. Keep those lines of communication open.

Find a common interest

The next thing you should do in your effort to really bond with your tween is to make an effort to find a common interest and then work on building that interest. Think about the things you enjoyed at that age. You may think your son may not like building models or work with you in the garage, but you never know until you make that effort. When you find a common thread, you will build a lasting relationship. Your child will look back at that time that you spent together and have fond memories.

Have one-on-one time

Having one on one time with your tween is very important. It may be hard to juggle your work with her school and activities, but even getting together just once a month to do something fun will mean a lot to your child. How about taking your daughter to the movies and dinner? Take your son camping every once in a while. You can even have one Saturday a month where you take your tween for breakfast. Anything you can do with your tween will help you bond.

Respect their privacy

This is a very critical age for kids and they are moving away from you and towards their own life. They need their privacy, too. Don’t pry for information and don’t tease your child about the opposite sex. This will push your child away.

There are many ways you can bond with your tween. Stay involved with your child and build a lasting relationship. They will thank you for it when they are adults themselves, and they will treat their kids the same way.

Fathers Are Parents, Too

When we think about the daily activities of parenting – carpooling, preparing meals, bathing, laundry, and PTA – we typically imagine mom carrying out these tasks. Increasingly though, dad is stepping up to the plate. When it comes time to roll up the sleeves and tackle the hands-on work of parenting many of today’s dads would rather get in on the active parenting game than sit on the sidelines.

As men step into more active parenting roles many are re-examining some of their most closely held values around masculinity and manhood. Tough makes room for tender, and relationship building is no longer only about prospects or clients but also about the children in their lives.

Each age and stage of a child’s life presents a different challenge, but most parents regard the teen years as the toughest. As teens move toward independence, the relationship dynamics shift and dad-kid interactions often feel awkward and unwieldy. Dad may begin to find that it is more helpful to be vulnerable than the voice of experience; to listen instead of fix; to take a back seat when he really wants to take charge.

If you are looking for some really good perspective from a dad who has navigated these choppy waters, look to Hugh O’Neill. O’Neill, the father to now-adult children, writes with the unmistakable clarity of hindsight and self-reflection, about some of the things dads need to know when relating to their teens.


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