Did you know the word tweenager is a smash up of the words between and teenager?
These kids of ours are stuck somewhere between teenagers and little kidhood. (If they can invent words, then who’s to say we can’t?)
Having co-maneuvered two kids through the tweens and finding three of them currently in this transition phase, I’m here to tell you my perspective:
Tweens are the best of both worlds!
Yes, we see mood changes and smell nasty feet stank and hear hormonal tones. But hear me out.
Little kids are cute and sweet. And dependent and testing.
Teenagers are self-reliant and funny. And somehow still testing.
Tweens? Well, they brush their own hair, do their own homework and toast their own bagels.
But they are not so grown up to notice how embarrassing we are in public.
Tweens are developing humor beyond farting jokes and can appreciate Jim Gaffigan’s thoughts on bacon. They get sarcasm maybe more than they should.
But are not so grown up to refuse our hugs after a tough day at school.
They start having deep thoughts about God, but their hearts are still fresh and full of faith.
Those tweens are the best of both worlds.
But those years can be tricky too. Converting from one classification of kids to another comes with some rough patches.
If I were to offer three small slices of advice to navigate those years with your pre-teens, this is what I would say:
1. We keep the ratio of responsibility and privilege at 1:1.
The bigger those kids grow, the more we expect out of them. The bigger those kids grow, the more we give them. But when there is an imbalance, resentment or entitlement can flair up.
Yes, those 10 year-olds might have a 30 minute cleaning chore (my kids think that is an eternity, hopefully yours know better), but they also get to stay up 30 minutes later than the younger kids.
Sometimes all they need is a reminder of their privileges, sometimes we as parents need to call them to greater responsibility to match their newly acquired freedoms.
2. We don’t think of them as buddies.
Our kids don’t have to relate to us as friends to have a great relationship.
I am a big fan of kitchen towel fights with my boys and boy-talks with my girls. We laugh at funny gifs and they poke fun at my jokes that don’t make the cut.
But in the middle of the fun and for any reason we deem necessary, we can pull out our Boss Voice. Enjoying our kids doesn’t mean we drop our parent role.
3. We give them the space they need.
Without the personal space they are gravitating towards, they get surly and get sent to their rooms. Where they probably should have been in the first place.
Not all of my tweens have their own rooms so, hello creativity!
My husband and I turned a closet into a prayer room (Read: own space!) for our oldest daughter when she turned twelve. She was sharing a room at the time with a sister and it was just what she needed to get away.
Space for them can look like reading in mom’s bed, decompressing outside after school or jamming to tunes in a full room. It can look like sitting alone in the back of the van while the rest of us run into the store if we are especially desperate.
Helping our tweens recognize when they need their space will serve them well for the rest of their lives. And keep the peace in our houses.
Let’s keep reminding those tweens that they are responsible, they are enjoyable and they have the power to change the world when they walk with Jesus.
And that after twenty+ years of experience, we are much better towel snappers then they may realize.