You know that the sweetness of her smile and the kindness of her 11 year old voice won’t last very long because you have experienced being a tween parent now for 3 years. Without skipping a beat she is suddenly screaming and ranting and freaking out about something you are oblivious to and shouting – I hate you! It’s then that you remember you’re a parent of a tween
-She says she screams because you scream–
How can we talk to our tween’s? They tell us we scream or the teachers yell- but many times and most of the time- they are just pulling some random remembrance out of a long time ago moment. You may not even remember. They feel misunderstood because their bodies, minds, and friends all seem to be changing so much of the time! Tween’s live in a state of ‘above the clouds’ or ‘disconnect’. Ask a question or make a comment- you may hear an answer or a garbled ‘uhhh-uhhh’. Living in expectation of them to answer right now will close a conversation attempt before it begins. You may hear in a week or a month the answer but no one- not even them many times, knows what’s inside their minds.
As soon as your face becomes inpatient looking or angry looking- a tween has labeled you as ‘mean’ or ‘not nice’. I try to avoid those looks that will spread across my blown mind, so instead I conditioned myself. My tone needs to be matter-of-fact as I try to establish some form of communication with tween’s. Paying attention to me is my goal so if I blow it with a face look or a tone then it’s a no-go!
What to do what to do-
To get our tween’s to stay connected or open up to us, we need to be open and honest with our own experiences, respond in positive tones when they come around and share what they are concerned with or fearful of, and emphasize how we enjoy his/her sharing. The biggie is sympathizing with his/her feelings by listening and listening again. It’s tough because so often they go on and on about stuff that doesn’t make sense to us. But belittling and brushing-off their feelings is seen as rejection which can have lasting effects. Validating is what we want even with our own spouses so why would it be less with our tweens? To validate doesn’t mean we are in agreement but we are giving them the right to share and own those feelings and emotions. Continue reading
Who is your Olympic all-time hero? Can you remember when you were a kid following an Olympian or a sports figure? Today as I write this, Shawn White took center stage literally on TV. He was the favorite this year to take home to the USA gold in not one but two sports, the slopestyle and the halfpipe. His announcement to withdraw from the very popular slopestyle was a shock to most of the world. But then as the news settled, Shaun’s decision worked for him in a big way. He won. He won in the minds and hearts of many parents that have kids who looked up to him …and still do.
I am so grateful for the world of tweens and just kids in particular to see a valuable lesson.
Shaun said amongst other sound words, “….the potential for risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympic goals.” This spoken by the most decorated athlete to ever compete in the snowboarding events.
I see a clear message from Shaun: it’s OK to work hard and give your all to your sport or work, but then make a decision (not based on what you think others might want to hear), but on your own personal convictions. He sized up the way the Russians set up the event and after much agonizing deliberations inside his own mind and heart, he realized that he might get hurt; really hurt. Though he knew it was going be a tough one he followed through because he wanted to concentrate on the other goal without compromising himself; losing out on both or hurting his wrist even more than it was hurt. Continue reading
The other day I was in a huge hurry so I thought I’d save time in one of those 15 or less check outs at the grocery store. But my impatience suddenly calmed down when I heard two moms in front of me sharing. One mom said her 12 year old wanted to know what she (her mom) would do if she got pregnant! The friend wasn’t shocked; she just came back with her own experience last week. She laughed and then got real serious- looking, then told her friend that her 11 year old daughter was sick and tired of us (her mom and dad) making her do her homework before she was allowed to talk to her friends on her cell phone.
Not sure about you, but cell phones in an 11 year olds hands – might be a recipe for a “disconnect” between daughter and mom (?) These days tweens are not what they were in “those days”- the mom’s days. If we can just remember “those days” when we were tween’s and what came out of our wild and crazy minds and mouths! But these days, tween’s know all about sex, drugs, pornography, alcohol, and all the rest because of the media of TV and all the techie stuff parents allow their kids to own which connects them to the internet! These two moms are about to lose control of parenting their sons and daughters unless they stay savvy and connected with them on a daily basis. Continue reading
OUR KIDS AND THEIR DECISIONS – THEY NEED HELP AND YET RESPONSIBILITY
Without thinking we make many a day, an hour, and minute by the minute. I was thinking this morning when I made the decision to get up and plant my feet on the floor, how many decisions I would make today that might be observed.
Our kids, our grand’s, our nieces and nephews, our students, neighbor kids, and perfect little strangers in the grocery isle will be watching us grown-ups as we speak and act! Wow- that is something to think about or at least it is for me. I’m not talking about huge decisions (in this particular blog) that are planned like where to put our money; 401K or savings elsewhere. It’s those everyday little ones that make a long range difference in the lives of those little eyes and ears watching me. The question I ask myself is how can I be a good model today?
Honestly I make it my priority daily (though I fail time and time again) to ask the Lord to help me make those wise and productive decisions in my own daily life at home first. My priority’s, the types of books, entertainment, hobbies, and even the way I move and act and be in my relationships need to be overshadowed with the Lord’s direction and perspective each of my days or I am a mess! I made it simple a few years back; when I choose to follow what God likes then I can’t go wrong in the eyes of my grand kids or any little eyes around my neighborhood that might meet up with me. My accountability partner I like to think is ………God. Continue reading
What our tweens wear to school tops their MOST IMPORTANT list of “how not be embarrassed”. Have you ever experienced the old “toilet-paper-getting –stuck-to-your- heel just after using the restroom in a board meeting? Or how about the time you gave your power-point presentation with your fly open or your blouse buttons popped off?
It all comes down to what is important at the time or the season or phase of life. Our preteen or tween has immense insecurities about fitting in or being a part of the pack. They would rather die than wear something that NO BODY ever wears to school!
Could the more pertinent issue be: how much do we spend on this tug-of-war with our tween’s or does it even need to be a war? Giving too much attention to what they can and can’t wear may bring less attention from what really matters in middle school- good grades. So the question haunts our brains as we stare at our daughter’s choice of skirts and too much skin showing or our son’s strange way to wear his pants:
At what point does a new law need to be written on their foreheads about their choice of clothes? Continue reading
“I don’t want to go back to the grocery store! I can do it, mom – I can stay home by myself!” How many times has your 11-12 year old pleaded with you to give him the OK to stay home? You know you have been wanting to give them more responsibility but how do you know if your child is ready?
Being sure of their readiness is what you want for your peace of mind. The only way to find out is to get serious about establishing rules while determining their maturity level of having them stay home alone.
1. Does your state have a minimum age? Call social services for your state. Some states do not have any age requirements while others do have a specific age requirement for leaving a child unsupervised.
2. Rules and Expectations need to be specific and written. Sitting down with (with already written list) your tween’s undivided attention is important. Continue reading
You just tucked your 11 year old into bed for the 3rd time. Its 10:30 pm. suddenly she is standing on the stairs (once again) – “Mom…Mom! ….please let’s go over that math pre-test again! And I just remembered I’m supposed to have my science project in tomorrow!) You hear frustration in her voice (again) and crying. You go to the staircase and look up to find your daughter sitting and sobbing with her face in her knees.
Help! This is almost a nightly occurrence – how can we get some normalcy around here?! Why did we not recognize these behaviors- they seemed to suddenly become a constant companion to our tween’s personality.
Most of us adults experience stresses that play out in a number of symptoms. Tween’s also experience this stress when loads of schoolwork, after-school activities bring, chores, friends, and homework, all come at them at once.
When our families go through mega life challenges like divorce, extreme illness and loss of a pet or even moving, our tween’s will many times shut down or become depressed. Even summer months that would seem to bring escape from it all can be stressful as our tween looks at their family holidays (leaving pets and friends behind) and meeting new friends at summer camps, from a suddenly new pre-teen mind.
Balancing these real-life add-ons in their lives and sorting them out in priority will bring anxiety down and a sense of control back into their minds.
Symptoms of Tween stress: Continue reading