Okay, to begin with, we were never tweens because this term did not exist! Although technically we were pre-adolescents we were simply called kids until we became teenagers. We never went to middle school, we went to junior high. Junior high had a more sophisticated sound to it, as if we were older than a ‘middle schooler.’ In reality this is quite ironic because the kids or tweens as they are rightfully referred to today, seem to be so much more sophisticated, older than we were. Okay, maybe I am just speaking for myself here.
Parenting a tween brings many joys…and of course some stress. As a parent this period of time represents the beginning of a loss of total control over our kid’s lives. It is a period of time when our once compliant kids begin to ask questions. Instead of just doing they often ask why. As our kids interests in the world at large begin to expand, as parents, we are often challenged with guiding them toward the right choices. We no longer have the total authority to make the choices for them such as, with whom they are friends, what sports or activities in which they will engage, or even what they will eat (I know a few tween’s who have chosen to become vegetarians). In a word, being a parent of a tween can be tricky.
We are excited by their interest and new found insights. At times we are surprised and even shocked by their affirmations of autonomy and independence. They often think they know better, and are not afraid of telling us. The term tween is well named as one minute they are telling us they can do it on their own, and the next they are turning to us for help, guidance and reassurance. They are truly caught between the carefree days sand dependent day of being a kid and the affirmation of independent identity that goes along with being a teen.
As a group they are truly caught in between. The developmental difference between tweens can be great. One tween reads Seventeen Magazine, while another still eagerly await s the arrival of Highlights. One tween sports the early growth of a mustache while another still sports the baby fat which will naturally shed in time. At no other time in a human’s life is there such a wide difference in developmental growth between each child with the exception of infancy.
For parents tweens can be unpredictable and moody. One moment they are the shy kind child you know and love, the next they have attitude. Perhaps the following quote from a younger sibling regarding his tween’s sister seemingly instantaneous mood changes: “Look Mom, she’s like the Hulk!”
Tweens are more mature and trustworthy than children. Parent’s no longer feel they need to watch their every move. Intermittent monitoring of activities is possible. You no longer need to stay at the activity or birthday party (given there is sufficient supervision of course) you can actually drop off and run errands in between. At this point forming car pools becomes essential in not only keeping up with all their activities, but freeing up some of your time. Alone time is actually now possible!
While some of the benefits of tweenhood are their newfound autonomy, there are also many benefits during together time. You can now spend quality time engaging in activities you both enjoy. Whether it is watching a movie, going to a show, baking a cake or creating a craft, tweenhood is often synonymous with imagination and innovation. They are still at an age where they are willing to learn, they don’t yet believe they know better, well not about everything at least!
Parenting a tween is a magical time. As Mother Nature does her work, you watch your child grow from a kid to a teen, right before your eyes! It really is a tween’s life. As we take this journey together I look forward to your own experiences and insight!