a young girl is looking at her phone


Why I’m Sad: My Daughter Doesn’t Want To Be My Friend Anymore

Mar 27, 2019

Once, I was a king.

I admit it was only in my young daughter’s eyes, but I was a king nonetheless and wouldn’t have traded my parental eminence for all the world’s castles.

We shared swashbuckling adventures and magical moments. I remember her hair flying horizontally on the merry-go-round at the local zoo. Or setting a new personal best for skating laps around the rink on a frigid January day. Circle after circle, racing together, outpacing the cold. Or staying up late to watch the fireworks on Canada Day, under eternally circling stars. Just me and her together, riding the wave.

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I should have seen it coming. Or, maybe I did and just wouldn’t admit it. It’s hard to go from being the go-to guy to barely tolerated, let alone feeling as if I’m not even liked. Suddenly, my daughter seems a stranger to me. She no longer wants to be my friend. I admit it: It hurts my feelings. But I understand it because I have memory…

"I know I must accept this latest step on [my daughter's] journey to personal independence and fulfillment."

There I was, on the verge of puberty, whiskers sprouting and voice cracking, everything changing, and every sense enthralled by the sheer newness of it. I was experiencing life in exciting and unexplored ways. It was in my bloodstream and there was no going back. The electric beat of living beckoned and my family relationships would never be the same. It caused them pain, but it was of the very best kind: natural and temporary.

My daughter’s focus is now all about her friends. They are her world and that is our new reality. She tells me that they mean everything to her. Again, I remember the thrill of just hanging with my buddies, happy to be together as we tried to make sense of our new world order. When I think back, I cringe at how we sometimes looked and acted. But in the moment, we thought we were right out of Hollywood casting, the coolest of the cool.

I know I must accept this latest step on her journey to personal independence and fulfillment. So, what do I do with her natural independent streak and rapidly changing perspective, complete with barked orders and admonishments? I resolve to be a listener as she explains her world and its many challenges, conflicts and triumphs. I resolve to offer my support, not as an authoritarian, but as an authoritative voice that gives guidance and love. Above all, I resolve to give generous amounts of the one thing that I appreciated most when I was her age: understanding.

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I try and keep the conversations going so that we understand each other. I make it clear that it is important to me to understand what she’s thinking and feeling. I share stories of my experiences at her age, raw and unfiltered, not to preach but to help her understand me — and my concerns for her — better.

I’m glad my daughter has friends. It’s a tough age in a tough world and kids need all the support they can find. While I wish I could hear, “Daddy, will you cuddle with me?” one more time, I accept that I never will. Our relationship will continue to change and evolve as our lives move forward. And if I can get through today, I’ll try and figure out what tomorrow will bring. Whatever it is, it will be different. It will require change. It will be just her and me. Riding the wave.

Article Author Craig Stephens
Craig Stephens

Read more from Craig here.

Craig Stephens is an award-winning writer and producer passionate about projects that explore social issues, human potential and innovation. He lives in Toronto with his wife, a writer, theatre producer and podcaster, and their teen daughter — his most challenging and rewarding project to date! You can catch his latest work at mediadiner.com.