I’m the father of a teenage daughter. I know what fathers are going through, especially with the news that teenage pregnancies are on the rise. Nobody has all the answers. Brothers, let’s share notes and experiences. I go first. Here are my tips:
Be the parent: Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But sometimes we let love blur the line between parent and pal. You may have named your daughter after your dear mama, and you’re always treating her with fragility, like she’s elephant bird egg. Change tact. Or else...
Be open for help: It takes a village to raise a child. We may think we know everything we need to know about our children, but there’s always a way to do better. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. It doesn’t mean that, “mtoto amekushinda”. It means that you have your daughter’s best interests at heart and you’re willing to go to all lengths to get y’all help.
Be her sex education teacher: If you don’t teach her, other teachers will miseducate your child. And you don’t want to leave such an important matter - and person - at the mercy of untrustworthy “teachers”. Take off that old tattered coat of taboo and tradition, which put a lid on talking about certain matters. Your daughter is better off learning about men from you, than from other men. If you can, take her out, just the two of you, and give her the good, bad and downright ugly. Assure her that she can come to you with any questions or issues.
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Be your darling’s advocate: Be in your daughter’s corner. Always. Let her see you as her being in her team, instead of her perceiving you as the enemy. Of course, there are times you’ll have to read her the riot act. It’s allowed.
Be her Barnabas: That name means, “Son of Encouragement”. And that’s exactly what the doctor ordered for our teenage daughters. Ooze encouragement, at all times and turns. Let her see you as “Son of Encouragement”; not son of a, well, you-know-what.
Be available: Children grow up fast. Don’t be an absent father. Some of us are around our kids all day, but, we’ve let our gadgets and mindsets to create chasms and make us to be technically absent. Be available, physically and mentally. Be all up in her face - in a good way, though - like her cute nose.
Be her prophet: Speak a great future on your daughter. Speak great things on her life. Don’t run your mouth, and be like: “Don’t come running to me for help if you become pregnant”. Or, “Nope. I’ll not raise another man’s baby”. Prophesy to her about her destiny, to the Most High and her.
Be smart: Know when to speak, what to say and how to say it. However angered you are, don’t just spew words. If, for instance, you say boys are bad, you may just drive her into what you’re trying to make her avoid.
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Be attentive: Listen. Really listen. Read between the lines, and, just to make sure, read again. Hear what she’s saying, not what you want to hear.
Be the Proverbs 22 pop: Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. The word, “train” has several meanings. “Teach a particular skill or type of behaviour through sustained practice and instruction.” “Develop and improve (a mental or physical faculty) through instruction or practice.” Pop, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Be a role a model: Morality begins at home. Another definition of the word, “train” is “demonstrate something to make something clear”. Let your daughter see you living the life you are preaching. If you’re preaching water, drink water that’s clean, filtered and germ-free.
Be real: Don’t lie to your daughter that, in your teenage years, you were a saint. Own up. Tell her you don’t want her to make the mistakes you made. Tell you experience is only the best teacher when it happens to others; and because it happened to you.
Be sensible: Give her some latitude. There are things that girls her age do. That’s just the way it is. You don’t have to track her every move, although it’s good to know who she’s hanging out with. Assure her that it’s for her own safety.
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Be sensitive: Do unto your teen daughter what you’d like to be done unto your teenage self. Last November, rapper T.I. made headlines in November after he said he accompanied his 18-year-old daughter, Deyjah Harris, to check if her hymen was intact to confirm her virginity. In an episode of their reality show, “T.I. & Tiny: Friends and Family Hustle,” Deyjah confessed that she “very shocked, hurt, angry and embarrassed”.
Be hopeful: It’s not all doom and gloom. Keep hope alive. Your daughter is going to turn out alright. She’ll turn this corner, and turn out to be a fine lady.
Be her prayer warrior: Many battles are fought and won on our knees. Pray, pop. And don’t cease. Some of your peers died in the streets. Others are doing time. Some have lost their damn minds. Look at you. You’re doing fine. Think it’s all your doing? Check your parents’ calloused knees. If only you knew the amount of “knee mails” they sent, and kept heaven inundated about your well-being. Long sermon short? The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous parent availeth much.