A few weeks back, my job brought in a counselor to talk to us about incidents going on in our organization and how to avoid such incidents through mentorship and other avenues.  Following the meeting, I approached the counselor, simply to introduce myself.  The conversation went something like this:
me: “Hi, Sam, my name is Victor, I think you made some good points up there.”
counselor: “Ah, hello, very nice to meet you Victor, and thank you.  So, you’ve got kids, eh?”
me:  “Umm, yes, how do you know?”
counselor: “I can see it in your face.”
me:  “Is it the bags under my eyes, flapping in the wind?”
You see, I’ve got 2 young boys who get excited about simple things like drawing or watching an episode of Pokémon.  They’re pretty easy to raise, with minimal backtalk for the time being.  Young boys are like pugs: they’re fun to be around, sometimes smelly, sweaty and funny looking, they’re into wrestling, easy to pet, and will even play fetch.  Daughters, specifically Preteen daughters, on the other hand, are like beautiful…uh, flesh-ripping silverback gorillas: aggressive, angry, full of attitude.
Though some may have a nice side at times, it’s best to keep your distance.

I’m not sure when it all started.  Probably a year ago when she started middle school.  I noticed a little attitude and snappy responses.  A little shake of the head and mumbling under the breath.  Where the hell did my well-mannered daughter go? 

I know I can be very authoritative and sarcastic at times, so our personalities clashed immediately.  It wasn’t until I started talking to my wife more about young girls’ feelings, emotions and listening to some of Dr. Kevin Lehman’s podcasts (author: Have a New Kid by Friday), that it started to come into perspective.  I had to take a step back and give her some room.  We still get into the arguments sometimes, but it’s nowhere near what it used to be.  The waters remain somewhat calm as long as I remind her that respect is a 2 way street and I will give her the same type of respect she gives me.  Her chores and responsibilities are clear, and as long as those and her homework are getting done, I’m willing to back off a bit. 

The main thing I’ve learned is to stay strong and hold my ground.  Sometimes I’ll just recite random leadership and motivation quotes from movies like Rocky or Rudy.  It takes a lot from me not start laughing, and she’ll roll her eyes, but she’ll listen.  What matters in the end, is that I get the point across.

In these critical years when middle schoolers are entering their teen years, they need real parents that get involved, not ones that act like friends or roommates.  That’s why kids are the way they today.  If I’ve noticed anything, it’s that these years are full of confusion, emotion and growth.  I feel like I’d be doing my daughter a disservice to her future if I didn’t set some ground rules now.  Hold them accountable and allow them the opportunity to provide something positive to society.  If she does something good, I’ll back it up with some positive feedback, maybe even go out for an ice cream cone.  After all, these kids are the future leaders of our country, and she’ll probably be deciding what nursing home I’ll be stuck in when I’m old.

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