These dads may now have to work extra hard to validate their teen.  And after they have broken the ice, they should continue to make sure they are doing a good job by asking, "Am I around you enough?" Or, "Do I support you like you need?" "Who do you know you can always count on…is it me?"Who is the second?" "Third?"  Sometimes kids cannot explain their needs, but dad's desire to talk to them shows that he cares, especially if he listens to them and takes them at their word. 

For all the dads out there that have "blown it" or parents that feel they have lost all connection with their kids, showing how you desire time and interaction with them now will still make a difference.  Be persistent, and it will pay off. 

Steps Toward Validation

Dads should make an effort to get together with their son or daughter once a week, no matter what.  For daughters, make it a date. Go to dinner or a coffee shop and just sit and open your ears, look at her, and ask some good questions. Show her that you will go out of your way to talk to her about what matters most to her. 

For sons, you'll do a better job or validating by doing something active together, rather than sitting face to face. Work on a project, golf, hunt, fish, or attend a game together. You may need to go out of your way to find an interest you both have in common. 

Positive validation through mutual participation in an activity (especially an activity you may not personally be that fond of ) gives your teenager the impression that you care. Strengthen that feeling by endeavoring to find some way to encourage and praise them, even if it is hard to find something praiseworthy. 

Every child yearns for attention from the adults in their life. They might be on guard or may not trust you at first because in the past they have not felt so important to you. Make it clear to them that it is your desire now to spend time with them on a regular basis, and then be consistent. Both of you will benefit, but your teen will feel validated because they begin to feel that you really want to be with them and to nourish the relationship. 

Kids need their mom's and dad's presence and attention to their needs. If not, they will look for value and validation somewhere else - usually from all the wrong places — but they will never truly find it.

Mark Gregston is an author, speaker, national radio host, and the founder of the Heartlight therapeutic boarding school, a residential counseling opportunity for struggling adolescents, which houses 50 teenagers. Learn more at http://www.heartlightministries.org or call 903-668-2173.

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