The advice every parent of a teenager needs to hear, urgently.

Fathers are “all at sea”, and are so disconnected from their families that they are neglecting what’s important, says a leading educator.

In a week where The Kings School in Sydney is mourning the tragic death of former student Stuart Kelly, whose brother Thomas was killed in 2012, their Headmaster, Dr Tim Hawkes has a message every parent needs to hear:

The internet is raising our teenagers. And it needs to stop.

The leading educator joined Andrew Daddo and Holly Wainwright on the This Glorious Mess podcast to talk the difficult task of parenting teenagers:

The author of several books on leadership and parenting had some telling statistics.

“These days, dads are spending between 17 seconds to 59 minutes a day with their teenage children.  Compared to the kids spending an average of two to five hours a day online.” he said.

“We have to lift our game as parents and recover ownership of our children and to recover the role of parenting our children rather than leaving it to the cyber world, their friends and to their school.” he said.

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It’s a message that comes at a time of mourning for the Kings school, with Dr Hawkes releasing a statement earlier this week reminding us all that life is fragile, loved ones are precious, and each day is a gift.

He told Holly and Andrew it’s time fathers stepped up.


“So often with us dads, we are so busy trying to be someone outside the home, we forget to be someone inside the home,” he said.

“It’s so often not our bounty, but our time and our presence which is hungered for by our children.”

For parents of teens who might not want to talk, his advice is to “meet them where they’re at” by beginning with fun, banter and chatter, an icebreaker as simple as commenting on a football game.

“There’s no good coming in with an artificial conversation,” he says.

There are a few great secrets of talking with teens, he says:

He says too many dads are “all at sea” and find themselves disconnected with their kids, and unable to find ways to connect until its too late.  He says it’s vital that fathers need to dive into caring for their babies from the very start, and is encouraging dads to step up and care for babies in their formative years.

“Its so important for a child to see that strength not be disassociated with gentleness,” he says.

“Good education can’t really make up for bad parenting”.

This Glorious Mess is the weekly podcast with stories from the frontlines of family life. For the full episode, subscribe in itunes or listen here:

Dr Tim Hawkes latest book is Ten Leadership Lessons You Must Teach Your Teenager.