Friday 22 September 2017

Even Daddy Cool needs help with his tearaway teen...Dear Mick

Interview by Deirdre Reynolds

Suddenly, all those lip-pursing, hip-swaggering, groupie-loving years may be coming back to haunt you. Sure, you may be fabulously rich and famous, but turns out you've got exactly the same headache as z-list dads planetwide -- a tearaway teen daughter.

Fusing your ex Jerry Hall's gorgeous genes with your rebellious streak was bound to end in tears. After all, Papa was a Rolling Stone -- and now your 18-year-old daughter Georgia seems hellbent on repeating your party animal past. When the media got a sniff of pictures that appeared to show your little angel doing some sniffing of her own at her 18th birthday bash in January, you came down hard -- grounding student Georgia in the run up to her A-level exams this summer.

Forking out almost €12,000 a year for her fancy Surrey school, the least you can expect is for her to knuckle down for the finals -- right? At first, laying down the law appeared to work.

Why, just last month, socialite Georgia made you proud by cancelling a planned appearance at a party in Chelsea to stay at home studying. But while she may have appeared on the cover of Vogue and fronted campaigns for Rimmel and Versace, Georgia sure ain't a model student.

Last week, the rule-breaking brat once again defied you by sneaking off to St Tropez to model barely-there outfits for Chanel. But you're not alone, Mick. Right about now, thousands of your fans throughout Ireland are tearing their hair out trying to get their own troublesome teens to hit the books for the Leaving Certificate exams next month.

Being a parent in the public eye, your challenges are bigger. Every misstep you've taken has been documented by the press.

But don't think that your wild child history gives you any less authority when it comes to parenting. Just because you went off the rails in your heyday, doesn't mean that you should tolerate Georgia doing the same.

So remember who's the Daddy, although Georgia may accuse you of being a hypocrite so you might have to be a bit sneaky.

Try saying: 'I wish I had been as mature as you are and realised I was doing the wrong thing'. Let her know you have the confidence in her to make the right choice -- that way, she'll know you're not just nagging.

Children of celebrities may be harder to control because of the level of luxury at their fingertips. Ordinarily, pocket money is a very powerful tool in disciplining teenagers (incidentally, those less well-heeled than yourself can try deducting a set amount from their child's pocket money every time they flout a house rule).

Having earned around €700,000 from a megabucks deal with jeans manufacturer Hudson though, self-sufficient Georgia isn't relying on her minted old man for pocket money. And with a lucrative career already, she's probably not too bothered about acing her A-levels.

But all's not lost, Daddy Cool. There's still a way to motivate even the most independent teenager to study. Sit down with your daughter and talk about how she sees her future panning out.

The stick approach clearly hasn't worked with Georgia, so try using the carrot instead. Give her some incentive to study -- agree that for every point she gains in her exams she gets a reward, such as a designer handbag.

On a more affordable level, the same advice goes to regular parents whose teens aren't inclined to study. Consider what they're likely to achieve and what you can afford, then agree to give them a set amount for every point they get.

As a single dad, Mick, it's also important to sing from the same hymn sheet as your ex when it comes to discipline. It's important for separated parents to jointly agree on the parameters for the child and stick to them.

Now you may not want to hear this, Mick, but it's no good instilling all these lessons into an 18-year-old. Children need to be taught from an early age that you expect respect from them.

Think of it like this, Mick: parenting is like piloting an airplane. In the beginning, your child is in the passenger seat and as they get older they begin to co-pilot with you. Your aim is to get them to a stage where they have enough skill to fly the plane themselves.

The teenage years can be very difficult as your child tries to navigate their way from childhood to adulthood. Throw in hormones and physical changes and it can be an explosive time.

There's no point in going in with a nuclear weapon and screaming 'You're grounded for a year!' -- both you and they know it won't happen. If you're unsure what to do, Mick, my advice is to press 'pause' until you calm down.

At 18, Georgia is an adult. But as her dad, the good news is that it's never too late to put your foot down. It doesn't matter whether they're 18 or 80, you're still their parent. Disrespect is not acceptable at any time.

Good luck!

Signed Martina Newe

Co-founder of HelpmetoParent.ie

PS: If you still need a little help, Mick, why not pop along to our 'Parenting Teenagers' seminar on this Saturday, at the Clarion Hotel, Liffey Valley. Call 087 6890582 and we'll book your place!

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