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On Mourning the Loss of Childhood

It would appear that coining the term ‘tween’ has come at a cost. It would seem that our children ages 8-12 are no longer considered kids, at least in some circles. Parents raising tweens know all too well the daily challenges they face, the embroiled battles in which they often engage as their pre-pubescent children push and pull them in every direction. At times tweens may seem to live by the credo “Rules are made to be broken.” And yet, at other moments it is clear that they take comfort in being told exactly what to do when and how.

Tweenhood is fraught with negotiating new situations. Parenthood (at least for parents of tweens) becomes about helping these little beings affirm some independence and autonomy while ensuring that they don’t grow-up too quickly.

What happened to childhood? Back when we were kids there was no such thing as tweenhood; then again there was also no such thing as cell phones, social media, and the Internet. While the World Wide Web has expanded the universe, it may have also contributed in some small way to taking away a piece of childhood.

As parents we can do our part to sustain even elongate out tween’s childhood through our words, actions and interactions with our children. It is difficult however, to prevent their exposure to a more mature universe however, unless the parents of their peers make the same commitment. Even then, nothing short of raising them in a plastic bubble or ivory tower can truly prevent tweens from exposure to the world at large.

The world has become a much smaller place for our children. As parents perhaps we are simply charged with redefining our role and reactions to our children. Instead of mourning the loss of childhood, we are better served embracing the evolution of access by encouraging our tweens to take on the outside world with our continued counsel. Parental involvement and commitment is the key to contentment for our children.