Raising kids today is more challenging than it has ever been. Kids today just aren’t as young as they used to be. I don’t have any scientific research to back this up, but I do have two specimens under my roof who give me all the proof I need.
To wrangle young people these days, a concerned dad needs to be two steps ahead, and not afraid to admit he needs help. But how to learn? Where to turn? A resourceful, modern-day dad like me immediately knows where to go for sound, practical parental guidance: The Movies.
With my teenage son, it’s a bit easier, since it wasn’t that long ago that I myself was a young dude. But with my preteen daughter, it’s more of a struggle. I have little or no experience being a young girl, so getting into her head and relating to her is often more befuddling than anything else.
I could try talking to her, but ah, no, that’s a bit too direct, and only to be used if all else fails.
Flicks for young chicks
Determined to give my daughter a fighting chance at reaching her dreams, I turned to my local multi-plex and created my own Father/Daughter Film Festival. For the price of a movie ticket and a bucket of popcorn, I knew I could pick up some valuable parenting tips.
I took my daughter to see a couple movies that told the stories of girls close to her age and the triumphs they enjoyed after a hard-fought struggle to be accepted and pursue their dreams.
In Bend it Like Beckham, an Indian girl living in London wants to play soccer. Bad. So bad, in fact, that she’s willing to deceive her traditional, “old school” parents, and attend soccer practice, instead of going to work, like she tells them.
In WhaleRider, a young Maori girl takes on her tribal elder grandfather and decades of tradition, which clearly dictate the role of men and women in the tribe. Both movies gave me an insight into the young female mind that I didn’t have before.
Girl em-power needed
Although they have come a long way in North American society, females, especially young ones, must still work twice as hard to reach their goals or make a splash in the world. They often have to break through barriers established by older men (sometimes older men who love them, such as their fathers).
In America, the pursuit of happiness is a declared right, but that doesn’t mean everyone is encouraged equally. Boys often receive more attention and support. These two “female empowerment” movies reminded me to make sure I gently push my son and daughter to strive to reach their maximum potential.
At this point, I was riding a wave of feel good summer movie viewing, but I still needed more input into the young female psyche, so I caught one more movie: Thirteen.
Thirteen reasons why young girls get lost
I knew not to bring my daughter to see Thirteen, a movie whose tagline, “It’s happening so fast,” is painfully demonstrated, as the main character quickly spins completely out of control in a blaze of self-destructive glory.
This was a chilling, cautionary tale for me. It reminded me of the forces at work on young girls, including my little girl. From their peers to Britney Spears. From boys to men. All of them seem to want a piece of their body and soul. Things that they cannot afford to give away lightly.
Hollywood and Dad
I’ve often heard women speak of the importance of their relationships with their fathers, whether it’s seeing dad as a model for a future spouse, recognizing his influence on their relationships with guys, or just giving them the confidence of knowing someone is in their corner. There’s something major, mysterious, and psychological about the father-daughter connection.
But rather than wilt in the face of all the pressure to make our relationship meaningful, I am actively doing something about it.
And today, I say “Hooray,” for Hollywood willingly comes to my rescue.