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Charles G. Hanna

Father’s Perspective: ‘My Daughter is Becoming a Teen and is Challenging Me’


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Charles G Hanna

Challenges force us to correct, to improve, and to grow. More importantly, they are our Higher Power’s way of directing our attention to the areas that require immediate attention. It is like a self-monitoring system that tells when and where we need to change. No matter what that challenge or even devastation is, the outcome can and will always be better provided we are in the best frame of mind to tackle it.

My daughter is turning 12 and she is starting to challenge me.

She is finishing grade 6 and has to transition to a middle school. There are many options and of course I have a good idea of where I want her to go. She has other ideas and I am perfectly fine with discussing them and even open to a different school based on her input. However, this was not a logical exchange. She started with an absurd choice and defended it with outrageous assumptions. No matter how much I tried to listen and debunk her assumptions, she dismissed everything I said without listening and just volleyed back clearly nonsensical arguments. I began to get upset because it was turning into a needless confrontation, and it kept getting worse until I had no choice but to end it on that sour note.

This was the first time that my little girl confronted me just for the sake of confrontation. Later that evening she started to follow me as if looking for reconciliation, so we had a little talk. I told her that I was hurt because she did not trust my opinion and was not even listening when all I am thinking of is her wellbeing. Anyway, we both apologized and hugged as I was getting her to sleep. I would love to say it was a happy ending, but the same thing happened the next day. Her back handed remarks became more reflexive and without thinking. I remember getting so upset that I accused her of not having any respect for me or my opinion.

This pattern of confrontation followed by making up continued and it became harder to dismiss them as a misunderstanding. I remember being very upset like my world was shaken. My reality is being altered and my serenity threatened. I was visibly upset because my close relationship with her is one of the most cherished aspects of my life. I started to become overwhelmed with feelings of loss and facing the fact that her childhood may be coming to a quick and rapid ending. Even so, I had hoped that as she grew up she would still recognize my unconditional love for her and trust me for guidance.

I was consumed by these thoughts over the following few days and became worried that I am losing my serenity and could not see an easy answer nor acceptance of this friction. That is until I reflected on my writings on how when bad things happen there is always a positive side. The only way forward is to accept it and look at a positive outcome. What became quickly obvious to me is that her confrontation is simply her exploration of independence. She is growing and it is healthy and necessary for her to be able to start reasoning for herself with whatever experience and information she has available. Being right or wrong is secondary to her need to start breaking away if she was to become a strong adult. It is time to push and explore beyond her present limits. This has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her natural and healthy need to grow. In short I started to see the positive and it outweighs any negativity that I might have felt so far.


That evening while the friction is still palpable between us I told her that I wanted to say something. She listened apprehensively as I said that even though I was upset about our arguments, when I had a chance to think about it I started to develop a genuine respect for her qualities. I told her that she it is perfectly healthy to challenge my ideas because it is an important part of growing up. I added that I also admire her strength of character and that it is important for her development to realize that she has a right to disagree and express it regardless of whether she is right or wrong. However I also told her that while I am completely ok with our arguments it does not change the rules.

What happened next was wonderfully unexpected. She looked like she could not believe what she was hearing and hugged me. She felt her feelings were validated and I loved her the more for it. That period of confrontation passed and we seemed to enter a new chapter in her development and our relationship. We got a lot closer and she seemed to feel comfortable because I am not mad at her or think that she is stubborn or disrespectful or that her opinion does not count. She is becoming more independent and I feel that she includes me more than she would have otherwise. She is trusting me more with her thoughts and where we differ accepts my decisions more readily without feeling dismissed or defeated.


It is interesting and noteworthy to mention that a couple of months later I was sharing this experience with some friends when she entered the room. She asked what we are talking about and I asked her, “do remember the time when I told you that I did not mind our arguments and that I admired your need to disagree?” and she replied, “No”. I had to laugh because she had no recollection of what I thought was ground breaking for her.

The bottom line is that this is parenting is all about. This was just another brick in her development. It is a good brick, but it is just one brick and as a parent I need to continue to add more and more of these positive and grounding experiences as she grows.

Charles G. Hanna is the author of Higher: Awaken to a More Fulfilling Life and a devoted father of three children. For more information, please visitwww.charleshanna.com, and connect with him on Twitter, @hanna_higher.