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Education Matters: Cycles of angst, affection

July 09, 2010

Editor's Note: Numerous instances of plagiarism have been discovered in Dan Kimber’s “Education Matters” column, which ran in the News- Press from September 2003 to September 2011. In those columns where plagiarism has been found, a For the Record specifying the details will be appended to the piece.

As any parent of a teenager will tell you, adolescence, with all of its uncertainty and insecurity and growing feelings of independence, is a major departure from all the years before it.

How well I remember conversations with my wife when our two girls were about 10 and 8 years old and we both wondered how on earth we would ever be able to stand it when they would one day leave us.

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Not too many years later, after having weathered their teen years, the answer came to us clearly, unequivocally and somewhat painfully. I came to the conclusion that in those trying years, there was a higher purpose or divine plan, if you will, that helped prepare parents for that inevitable separation from their children.

I can't say for sure when exactly it happened that my little girls were no longer the open books that they once were. I don't know when it was that I ceased to be the strongest, the smartest and all the other superlatives that came with the territory of fatherhood, especially when it comes to daughters.

Friday nights used to be something we called, "family night," and we were all, to quote Forrest Gump, "like peas and carrots" together. It was a glorious time when the four of us did everything together and were supremely happy to be with the people we most wanted to be with.

At the age of 12 or 13, however, things began to change.

There appeared subtle signs that new pages were turning in the story of our family and a new dynamic was emerging. The old routines were breaking up, Mom's and Dad's jokes were less funny, their music was not so cool anymore, their sound advice was less welcome and family rituals were becoming "old school," as my girls liked to put it. A little thing called peer pressure had crept into our lives and began to unravel our tight-knit togetherness.

As much as we had been warned about the teen years, we imagined that we might be spared the trials and tribulations.

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