By Centre for Fathering’s Resource Team
On 12 January 2017, 16 dads and four mums gathered at the Centre for Fathering and Dads for Life (CFF) office in Toa Payoh, to attend this year’s first run of the Navigating the Teen Years Workshop.
Conducted by Mr Edwin Choy, Therapist, Family Coach and Co-founder of CFF, the three-hour programme equips parents to stay sane and support their teens through this crucial phase of their lives.
“Fathers will realise that their role goes beyond that of setting boundaries. The role of a father includes being a nurturer,” says Edwin. The workshop gives dads the key to building a presence in their teens’ lives. It equips a father to guide his teen into young adulthood.
The workshop, chock full of tips and techniques on how to connect with teens, is divided into: Parenting Styles and Teen Development.
The Four Parenting Styles
– Authoritarian, Neglectful, Indulgent, Positive
Researchers have found that these parenting styles have dimensions that affect children differently and can influence the parent-child relationship in terms of “warmth and control”.
During the session, parents watched a video that helped them discover their own parenting styles; and under Edwin’s guidance, were encouraged to adopt the Positive Parenting Style to help their teen grow in understanding rules, responsibilities, and to take ownership of his choices and behaviour.
Many topics on navigating teen development were covered. Here are some highlights:
The Parent-Teen Dilemma
Edwin helped the parents become aware of their own expectations and responses to their children. He explained their differing needs and how teens are at a stage of seeking to differentiate, explore, experiment and break free. Giving them space to grow, will help avoid misunderstandings.
The True Worth of a Teen
One of the most powerful discussions during the workshop was around the concept of Human Worth found in Robert Norzick’s book, The Examined Life.
Edwin conducted an exercise to help parents stop and reflect on the true worth of their child as a person and to reassess their expectations of him. He encouraged them to cherish their children and appreciate their presence in the family.
What Our Participants Have to Say
“I learnt that my parenting style is mostly Authoritarian -characterised by a cold manner in relating to the children. It does not work for teens today as it used to in my younger days,” said Mr Adnan Bin Abdul Karim, age 43, dad of three children, age 13, 10 and 5.
“It hit me hard when I realised that I am following my parents’ way of raising us, which was fine at that time. But, I really want to change for the betterment of my children.”
“During my teens, I could not tell my parents about what I wanted or my feelings, aspirations, fears and joys. By attending the workshop, I realised that my children should be able to talk to me about all that.”
“It really opened my eyes and mind that I can start a new legacy for my children and they can do the same and better in the future.”
Mr Collin Chee, age 50, came to the workshop with his wife, Irene. They have four children, aged 19, 17, 16 and 14.
“We received a lot from Edwin,” said Collin.
“This workshop is amazing. Having attended the ICAN -A Fathering workshop, this Navigating the Teen Years Workshop brings me up another level to see more things -it offers a helicopter view,” he added.
It helped him think about how he interacted with his children. “I used to be an unreasonable father and have jumped to conclusions about my children before. I was reminded that we must try to know the truth of a situation and not to ‘pre-judge’ our children.”
“The workshop was beyond my expectations,” said Irene.
“It helped me realise I am quite an indulgent parent,” she shared candidly. “So, I may need to put more effort into the area of ‘control’ in my parenting style. Then, I will be a positive parent.”
“I learnt that we have to appreciate our children as they are, and to not focus too much on academics or skills,” said Mr Mohamed Shahrin Shamshuddin, age 48, who attended the workshop with his wife, Ida. They have three sons, aged 22, 20, 18, and a daughter, 14.
No dad will feel alone in his parenting journey attending this workshop featuring videos, lively group discussions, and unfettered opportunities to ask questions.
It is a space where conversations flow freely and fathers find a compass to navigate the teen years.
“Dads who find it hard to connect with their teens should not give up because it’s just a phase and not permanent. Part of the misunderstanding that parents have is that their teen wants to disconnect suddenly, but this is not true.
The teen is going through a phase in which he needs individuate and find a sense of identity. Parents should support and embrace this need to individuate. The earlier they do this, the faster the teen can be an independent adult.”Edwin Choy, CFF Co-founder and Trainer for Navigating the Teens Workshop
Workshop in a Nutshell
Build a Presence in Your Teen’s Life
Nurture Your Teen’s Development
Guide Your Teen into Adulthood
The Impact of Shared Parenting
When Fathers are Involved
& Parent-Teen Dilemmas
in different Life Stages
As Your Teen Grows…
See Your Teen Differently
Compliments: Triple Praise
& Parenting with Compassion