Yesterday I came home from work as usual after picking up my girls M and R from various places and having had a very happy family excursion to the grocery store to pick up dinner.
Dinner is a happy time at Treehouse! The kids are usually working on homework and talking about their day, and that night we decided to start watching Cheers on Netflix! We like to watch some TV during that time. Some TV exposure especially without the ads is very necessary for cultural connectedness. But anyway that’s a different topic!
During dinner, M was broody. She’s the older one. And broody is not normal for her at all, especially at dinner. She picked at her food, and wouldn’t talk about what was bothering her. R was concerned too, but M would not budge….
How do you deal with a daughter that won’t talk to you?
I’ve heard that this can go on for months or even years. And I found some helpful tips, too, the most helpful to me is here, and to summarize the key points:
Be sure and stay tuned to what you can observe in their lives, since people express through actions as well as words.
- How does their mood change?
- Are they doing well in school or is that changing?
- Are their friendships and relationships changing?
And through it all…
- Exercise patience!
- Keep the talking going even if you don’t get a response.
- Tease and play with and enjoy your child in ways they enjoy too.
- Help them relax
- Talk to them about your day and concerns, even if they don’t reciprocate.
A good, trusting relationship is the foundation for open communication, and remember that your relationship is more than words!
But the tight lipped M would not open up, and all the while her eyes shot sideline glances at me as if I were SATAN! “I’m really okay Daddy… it’s not your fault.” She would say, contradicting the glare in her gaze.
The evening wore on. I didn’t press it. But I did care for her. I made her some hot chocolate. I wrapped her sad countenance in a warm blanket. I told her I love her and am proud of her. And then I gave her space.
At some point my youngest was looking up a dictionary word on my computer, and I noticed her eyes drifting to something on my desk! It was a business card that I had there, but it had a weird image on it. A woman, clad in lace panties, with the words “Male Prostitute” written across the side along with a phone number. She hadn’t expressed concern about it at all so I picked it up and turned it over, and explained to her that this somewhat nutcase friend of mine had given me it as a piece of paper to write another friend’s email address on! That the card was a joke, and that I had meant to write her, so it was on my desk as a reminder. That guy was fun, and unusual, but certainly wasn’t a male prostitute! We laughed about it a bit.
Then M chimed in. “That was what was bothering me.”
And we laughed, because it was funny in a way! And I told her that she could have gone all her life thinking her dad was consorting with male prostitutes and never realizing that the misconception was all from a silly piece of paper meant as a joke! Mortally wounded! Scarred! When a simple inquiry would have cleared it up.
We spent a good bit of time talking about it, but it became lighthearted and fun. My youngest asked what exactly a prostitute was, and so we talked about that too. And it was a good lead in to lots of other questions, which they asked. About me, and my life, and my role as a father.
In the end, kids all tucked in bed safely, I reflected on what a powerful moment that was, and how such a careless lapse in judgment on my part ended up working out so well for my girls, to build trust rather than tear it down.
That’s a very beautiful thing.
Note: M and R approved of me posting this.