Today’s Table Talk is graciously hosted by our friend Kathleen Fischer.  I asked her to comment on “girl” issues. … In my house we are smack dab in the middle of hormone changes, mood swings, emotional manipulation… the list goes on.  I never know each morning who I’m waking up.  It could be my wonderful, sweet, encouraging daughter — or a new person who might greet my cheerful bidding with tears one day, anger the next.  

Kathleen, in her usual way, gives great encouragement on dealing with our girls.  Next week, she’ll move to the guys.  She also is planning a workshop (for those of you in Dallas), tapping into area youth leaders, for dads and their younger high school sons called, “Dudes on Being Dudes”.  She has found that boys are really “floundering with regard to becoming honorable men and who better to guide them than dads.”   We’ll have more information for you on the 4th.   Thanks, Kathleen!

… and thanks for walking the road with me.  -Kay


In my line of work there are a number of “givens”:

·    middle school boys who are not working as hard at school as they could be;

·    high school boys who’re driving faster than they should;

·   or high school girls who focus on social drama when they should be paying attention in class.

Along with those, and many others, is the classic 13 year old girl eye-rolling, hair-flicking sigh/grimace. You know the one . . . the one which edges your blood pressure up and makes you wonder is just a tiny bit of child abuse might be okay, after all, she’s as tall as you are. . .

I’d like to offer some thoughts on handling that provoking behavior.

1. Remember what it is like to be a 13 year old girl (or interview a woman you love and admire and ask her about that time in her life). Remember the horror/thrill of a new body blossoming each day. Recall the roller coaster ride of hormones and feelings, yours and the girls around you. Remember the intensity of feelings, as brilliant and fresh as morning after an all-night rainstorm. Soak in the ramifications of the term, “imaginary audience.” You might recall how you felt every eye saw you and judged you. Being a middle school girl is an uncomfortable spot to be!

2. Balance her needs with your needs, and those of her family. Some families I know are so considerate of their teens that they coddle them right into demanding, self-centered, foot stomping little witches. If her parents and her siblings don’t like it today, chances are, room mates, sorority sisters and a husband won’t like it tomorrow. Moms in particular are important in this process since by setting limits to how far she can push and demand, mom is not only setting boundaries on how we treat other people. Mom is also demonstrating how women deserve to be treated.

A true confession: On a day my young daughter had been especially “unbecoming” in her treatment of me, she approached me using a voice just one notch above disdain, announcing, “I need a ride to soccer. . . in five minutes. I’m late (implication, it’s your fault)!”

“Well, I sure hope you can reach a pal in time,” I replied. “I’m not sure there’s air in the bike tires.”

She spun angrily to me, demanding, “What! Why can’t you take me?” 

My voice carefully gauged for no emotion, “I’m not in the habit of doing favors for people who treat me badly.” A storm followed! But I did not waiver, nor did I get sucked into the rage or drama.

We often declare that we hate that sense of entitlement which seeps into our children’s behaviors. So we must be vigilant that, in our attempts to be loving and supportive, we not inadvertently set up what can escalate into abusive attitudes.

3.Keep in mind . . .  In preparing to write this piece, I consulted with two amazing young twin sisters, recent graduates from a top-notch school, headed to outstanding colleges.  At eighteen, I thought they might have excellent insight to offer on girls just their junior. Sure enough, when I asked what they’d advise parents of thirteen year old girls with maybe a little bit of an attitude, they were almost simultaneous in their response: “Don’t take it personally.”

I would echo their reply. While our daughter’s look, her tone of voice, her word selections seem honed to hurt our heart, the truth is, so often she is coming from a place of insecurity or carelessness. As we did when she was two and forgot to use the “magic words,” we may remind her, “I like doing things for someone who is kind to me. Let’s try it again, with, ‘Mom, could you please help me . . .’.”

And while we probably won’t see a perfect about-face, as we shape our behavior and hers, we’re likely to see the hoped-for upward move in her attitude. It turns out, “Pretty really is as pretty does.

{Kathleen M. Fischer, longtime Dallas resident and mother of three, is a registered nurse with a master’s degree. In a career spanning more than thirty- five years, she has worked in public health settings; taught in public school and at the university level; and presented professional educational seminars. Kathleen continues to be a popular speaker in corporate, professional, church and community settings, often presenting topics from her recent book, Bringing Our Boys Through the Second Decade. Please visit her website ( to purchase a book or learn more about Kathleen.}

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