A few months ago my eleven year old son asked me if I knew that he now cursed at school with his friends? I did. Was I OK with it? I wasn’t. Was I going to do anything about it? I said we could talk about it. And for the next 15 minutes we calmly listened to each other’s perspective. Mine being that there were appropriate moments and inappropriate moments to curse and that I hoped in time he would learn the difference. His being that it was fun to do it while playing basketball and that rappers seem to do it best.

My nine year old daughter asks me for advice about a girl who wants to kiss her and whose affection she does not want to return.

Parenthood to me has always felt like a blur, but for the past few months I’ve noticed that my son and daughter not only get along, but seem to genuinely like each other. They generally go to sleep, brush their teeth, and do their homework (and let me help) with very little fussing. To top it all off, they are both still exceedingly cute and little (no one yet has exceeded 70 lbs.). I still get lots of hugs, kisses, and they both still want to play with me.

This new and brilliant normal has given me time to reflect on how my wife and I got here. There is a lot we have done right so far and a lot of funny stories about the mistakes we have made. One thing we’ve consistently done is treat each other and our kids with respect, and expect the same from them. This has taken extra time and patience. Required more than the occasional apology on my part. And, because we allowed the kids to always state their case, fostered a total elevation of my debating game.

I don’t mean to suggest that things were so bad before. They weren’t. They were just the old normal of the life I’ve chosen that required me to work a hell of a lot harder at being a parent.

I’ve been told (read: warned) by other parents that it won’t last. That adolescence is right around the corner and that, “they change.” All I can say is that I plan on doing everything I can to keep the mutual respect train running on time.

Author: Jim Winters

Hi! I love feedback and helping, so please chime in. I'll always respond to comments, emails, and shouts in my direction on the 3 train 😊. I am, among other things, a passionate Brooklynite, a family man, and a (semi-) retired real estate broker.

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