Parenting information and wisdom comes from all different kinds of sources. I recently received some very valuable advice on parenting teens from an Uber driver.
I got into the car at the airport and Andrew, my driver, was chatty. With Bob Marley playing on the radio, he mentioned his daughter who is in her twenties. We still had a ways to go, so I decided to see if he had any advice as a man who has been there.
"So you've made it through parenting a teen daughter. My daughter is only 14. What do you wish you had known at that age?" I asked, as "One Love" played in the background. It seemed more than a little appropriate.
Andrew was more than happy to answer my question. Turns out that he has not one, but four daughters. The one he had first mentioned is the eldest. The others are still in their teens. He's in the thick of it, and he had given a fair amount of thought to the issue of raising teen girls.
He told me to do three things.
"You have to listen to them," said Andrew, noting that it's really easy to talk but harder to listen. I had only known him a few moments, but I could see where this would be true for him, and it's certainly true for me, too.
He added, "You have to be available." We laughed over the fact that teens seems to want to talk at inopportune times, but you don't let them pass by, for fear that they might not happen again.
"Don't offer answers to questions that haven't been asked," he added.
- Don't expect your teens to be perfect.
"I'm not perfect, and it doesn't look like I'm going to be any time soon," said Andrew.
To be safe, I checked to make sure we were headed the right direction. We were. Then I double checked the address of my destination. I'm not perfect, either. This would be a bad time to blow directions, but i it seemed I would get where I needed to be.
"Your kids? They're not going to be perfect. Ever," he said, laughing.
He summed up parenting like this, "It's less about avoiding mistakes and more about saying, 'Okay, you made a mistake, now how are you going to fix it?'"
- There's no magic answer.
Andrew said that the night before, his eldest came to him looking for advice on getting and exercising self-control, particularly in areas like spending and eating, which are fun in the short term but not ideal in the long term.
"You're going to have to pull yourself together," Andrew told her. "If I knew how to make that all easy for you, I would have told you. I'm not sitting on a bunch of secrets here."
"And I figure that if my mom had figured out the secret to parenting, she would've told me. She hasn't. She just laughs at me," he said.
And then "No Woman No Cry came on. It was like some force in the universe was DJ'ing my parenting advice ride. I was impressed.
"Everything's gonna be all right!" sang Bob.
"See, it's like the song says," said Andrew.
And then we arrived at my destination.
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Filed under: Parenting