Connecting with your teenage daughter by NOT giving into every demand

David J. and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Charlotte, are both musicians who thrive in front of an audience and have never experienced a single case of stage fright. For Charlotte, he believes this comes in equal parts from her being classically trained from a young age and observing how, despite the fact that her father wasn’t, he could still get up on stage and entertain a crowd for hours—improvising even, if need be.

As soon as she was old enough to participate in a performance, David would bring her up onstage to sing a few songs with him whenever she wanted. In recent years, he says, she’s lost interest, but he hopes in the future they’ll be able to do it again and this time create something of their own.

“She has this incredible Bonnie Raitt style voice that just commands an entire room. I’ve been in this business a long time and I can tell she has what it takes, she just hasn’t let it show yet.

For now, I’m just glad she still comes to my gigs and stays for the whole show without complaining. he laughs. Though I can’t always be sure if it’s because she doesn’t have another ride home!
David believes that Charlotte’s choice to join her school’s choir and stick with it has helped her tremendously in understanding how to work as part of a team with all the various personalities and challenges that come along with it.
As an only child, he says, it can be easy to find yourself feeling like the center of the universe, as though your needs are more essential than anyone else’s.
He wants to prepare her for what university will be like, only two years away, since she won’t even be in the same country then. Her choice to go to France to take advantage of a unique program that combines both music and physics in its curriculum is one both he and his wife support, but they’re aware that these next two years are essential in helping her to understand how to negotiate the dynamics of unfamiliar situations pragmatically so they will work out in her favor.

These days, David admits, he finds it increasingly more difficult to connect with his daughter like he used to. Mostly what she seems to need from him involve rides somewhere or money for the things she wants to buy. Her questions, he says, all seem to center around what he can give her. As someone who long ago decided not to do anything for work that he doesn’t enjoy, a decision which prompted him to open his own sound engineering company, he admits it isn’t always easy to satisfy her every whim and he suffers when she openly shows she’s disappointed with him.

I’ve always tried to impress upon her that brushing people off when they do something you don’t like, classifying them as this or that, will only lead to alienation, which never solves anything.
“Every one of us has so many facets; as a friend, family member, partner, you need to be willing to explore all of them and want to understand someone else’s why, rather than be satisfied with your first assumption. I want her to realize that of course I’d love to give her the world, but working for something you don’t believe in, something that you have to drag yourself to every day, will destroy you. I want her to know we wouldn’t have half as much fun together if I had chosen a life like that and that I hope with all my heart she never does either.”