“Never underestimate a girl’s love for her favorite band. Never think even for a minute, that she won’t defend them to her death. Because it’s not just the music that makes that band her favorite. It’s the guys, the gals. It’s the fans. People whom of which she has interacted with thanks to the band. That band might of saved her life, or just made her smile every day. That band has never broke her heart and has yet to leave her. No wonder she finds such joy in her music.” – Alex Gaskarth
As a dad, you‘re never going to see eye to eye on everything with you children. This universal truth becomes even more absolute in the preteen and teenage years, especially with daughters.
Everything you did up until then seemed to be perceived by your daughter with mythical wonder and the exaggerated awe usually reserved for Spielberg movies. Something as simple as topping off a sippy cup with her favorite juice, or tying her shoe was equal to walking on water in her eyes. However, in the blink of an eye, a dad discovers he goes from being the center of his daughter’s universe – her personal Jesus, to being the weird uncle in the crazy suit she has to tolerate on occasional holiday visits.
It’s a colossal understatement to say this is a painful adjustment for a dad to go through this extreme shift in status.
Helplessly demoted by you
Overnight, you go from being your daughter’s lifeline – changing her diapers, carrying her on your shoulders to give her tiny legs a rest, and protecting her from the imagined bedtime monsters in her closet, to being nothing more than her phone-a-friend option; “Don’t call me, I’ll call you, but only if I really need you and my friends aren’t around to see I need you, and find out how uncool you really are, OMG etc.”
It’s a rude awakening for a dad when your little girl no longer reaches for the security of your hand as the two of you walk together. It’s an emotional jolt when she reaches for your hand and realizes shortly afterward, someone she knows might see her and she quickly and not so nonchalantly pulls her hand away and drops it defiantly by her side. It’s far worse when she hits the teenage years and flat out tells you not to walk beside her in public. But you move on because that is what society and life expect of you; both of you.
Maybe not as hard as this, but still just as troubling, is when your daughter stops singing along with and liking “your” music.
Battle of the boys/bands
Suddenly, those timeless classic rock songs acquire a time stamp for your daughter. She ignores them at first, then actively rejects them. You battle over control of the car radio as you chauffeur her to all of the social events she insists she must attend to keep up with the junior Joneses.
At first you try to play the authoritarian, father role, “it’s your car and you know more about music than any teenage girl will ever know” approach, but deep in your heart, it’s not right to pull rank on youth.” Pulling rank is the last refuge for someone who doesn’t have a valid argument. You feel terrible even as you are doing it.
You lighten up, just as you do when she starts dating boys, because you know defiance will only create a bigger abyss between the two of you. In the teenage years, this divide is already almost too wide to cross as it is. So you let her listen to “her” music and like the boys she likes. You tolerate it through clinched teeth, and disciplined restraint. You reside in her periphery. You don’t crowd her or interject your opinion as much. You may have to bite your tongue frequently. Surprisingly, there might be one or more boyfriends you are okay with, and one or two of “her” songs which sneak through your wall of adult stubbornness and you actually like them. Click here and here to listen to two of these songs.
You find you have salvaged a thin musical bond the two of you can share, but you learn early not to betray this discovery. The minute she learns you are singing along to one of “her” songs, it suddenly is not one of “her” songs anymore. It’ll be dismissed like the security of your hand was not too many years before. You resign yourself to secretly sing them in your head, and sneak them onto your iPod, so that you can metaphorically hold her hand, remember, and cherish that bond she seems to have outgrown.
Her interests in boys and music soon collide.
She’s a true belieber
The center of her world shifts even further from you to someone you will never be able to compete with in her mind. You don’t have the public relations and marketing machines he has.
Justin Bieber becomes her universe. She acquires all of his music and wallpapers her bedroom with his likeness. You’re quite certain she doesn’t have a single picture of you on display. If she did, the Bieber was plastered over it a long time ago. She’s one of the first to go to the local premiere of his movie, and owns and watches the DVD numerous times. She purchases (with her own hard-earned money) two different life-sized cutouts of Justin which she regularly poses with for photographs.
She has the “Never Say Never” motto unashamedly emblazoned on her varsity soccer letter jacket and lives by it. She has an understanding with her boyfriends over the years, that Justin would replace them in a second if the opportunity were to present itself. She petitions to start a Bieber fan club at school, and fights for her right to do so when challenged by the school administration. She risks ridicule from her high school peer group by wearing a Justin Bieber backpack to school every day. This is the same daughter who decided it was embarrassing to walk beside her law abiding, loving, career professional dad a few years ago.
As a father, you comfort yourself by believing that she is not trying to replace you with her music, the boys she dates, or God forbid, the Bieber, and she hasn’t shunned you completely.
You hope she is accumulating all of these ingredients to customize a reflection of some of your best qualities. You hope she knows, and even believes deep down, more than she beliebs in Justin, you are there in the wings as a lifeline if she needs you and she will someday take your hand willingly again. You hope, but you don’t know.
There is one thing a father could do to completely guarantee the re-establishment of the father/daughter bond which disappeared with the teenage years.
Justin are you listening?
If somehow Justin Bieber were to read this article and visit the teenage daughter face to face, the father would be a hero in her eyes forever. She may even walk beside the “uncool” father in public again. Justin, what do you say? When you’re in Houston, on Tuesday, October 30, do you have a few minutes to meet with a truly devoted fan? You’d be preaching to the choir for the teenage daughter, but you’d be making a true belieber of a father; a father who might actually secretly add some Bieber songs to his iPod to cherish the father/daughter bond again.
Justin, it’s understandable if you don’t have a few minutes in your busy schedule. The life of a pop star can be hectic.
Hoping for an upgrade
There’s no comparison between trying to make millions of fans happy and trying to make a teenage daughter happy. She may not realize it but her father will always be there even through the drastic life changes when he is demoted to second fiddle, or even third, or no instrument at all. She doesn’t have to pay $450 to a third-party broker or be the fastest speed dialer EVER to win the chance to see and hear her father from a distance so far away she has to wonder if it is really him. While she squints to see the center of her universe, her dad will always be there in the cheap seats if she needs him. However, Justin if you do have a few minutes for a teenage daughter, her dad might be able to get an upgrade from the mezzanine to at least the front row in her universe. A dad can belieb it could happen – Never say Never.
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