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No one tells you how hard the tween years can be. Or how you (and them) will survive with as little bloodshed as possible. With hormones on high during these awesomely precious years when it seems as if everything you say to them either causes major embarrassment or defiance; because you know we as parents know nothing. Throw in a situation where there are little ones in the house or maybe you are pregnant (I have been both). You’re sleep deprived and have a low tolerance level for obnoxiousness.
Our personal story has so many twists and turns; our poor kiddo has been through more in his short life than most. He is my stepson but was the first to make me a mom. The most trying time was when we lost our son in 2015. Although we had done our best to explain to him we really didn’t know what to expect, I don’t think anything could have completely prepared any of us for the heartbreak we had. He was devastated when he wasn’t able to meet his littlest brother alive and for a few months, it took everything we had to keep it together as a family. One of the reasons I think we came out on the other side of the darkness is because we really strived to keep him involved and connected.
To assist with some of the hurdles of change we read books (which are listed below), articles, and whatever other resources we could to get a grip on this um… adventure.After all the reading and the research, I decided I have this great outlet to share knowledge with the world.
I joined forces with my own tween to write this post. He is almost a teen but the knowledge we are about to bestow upon you are from a couple of years in the muck and mud of tweendom. Why not have input from the tween himself? We used this as our own form of bonding time and enjoyed every minute of it, and to be frank, I think I learned something too!
This sounds simple enough, right? But kids are smart. If you are on auto pilot and while they are mid-story about someone at school or a cool bottle flip trick, this is important to them. But if your responses are full of nods and “uh huh’s” then they begin to think you don’t care.
This is listening without prodding, these are the conversations that happen at random not while pushing for answers. Although you may not really care about the newest video their favorite Youtuber posted or the random treasure in the road. These conversations are important to them and they want to know you take them seriously too.
I hear from a reliable source (my own kid 😉 ) That if you listen to these semi-mundane conversations they are more likely to talk to you about the tough subjects and they know you still love them regardless.
Teach them something
Ever watched one of those movies themed back in the 50’s or 60’s? One common scene you see in those films are dads teaching boys to work on cars or moms teaching their daughters to bake. Granted life is a little more complicated than it was back then, we have to get a little more creative. Cue Pinterest! 🙂
Teach them something that could help them later in life. My dad showed me how to check the oil in a car when I was 13, even though I couldn’t drive yet the fact that he took the time to show me something simple still sits with me. Last but not least, make this lesson fun! If you come across similar to a drill sergeant you aren’t going to make any headway. The point of teaching them is to give them a new skill and bond, not boss.
My son loves to cook, so I teach him different methods when it’s something he can do. He also likes choosing recipes when we have the ingredients.
Spend time doing one on one activities
This is kind of tough when you have multiple children but you are investing in another human. This person you are trying to mold to be a future adult. They want to have your undivided attention sometimes, just to reconnect. Especially by the people who are supposed to love them the most in the world.
These don’t have to be major activities. Something as simple as playing a video game (their favorite of course) or running to get a soda just the two of you. Make it something you both will enjoy and it’s a win-win.
A few suggestions from my source: cooking, coffee runs, ice cream trips, movie dates, dinner dates, and of course video games.
At our house, we are huge comic book fans. Whenever a new Marvel movie comes out, you can bet we are going to see it in theaters. Because of this love of comics, much of our family time revolves around the release of these movies. We make a family adventure out of it, usually includes dinner to a fun restaurant then off to see the film. If we can’t make it to the theaters then we make it a family movie night and buy a special dessert for everyone to have while watching it.
We live in a city with a zoo and plenty of malls, so we try to take advantage of those activities as well. Water parks and random drives are top of our list too. A simple go-to activity is the classic playing basketball or baseball in the yard or at a local park. The goal for this year is for my husband to be able to take our tween to the Comic Con in our city as a special activity.
Let them teach you
Tweens are at the time of their life when they feel like everyone is watching. Peers view of them becomes important and they want to make sure they fit in somewhere. Unfortunately, it’s also that time of life when you as a parent are watching them; this is the time when kids are exposed to sex, drugs, and identity crises.
We as parents have a tendency to want to control our kid’s lives. We have already lived through this stormy part of life so naturally, we just think our kids should listen to us because we have been there. Consider, though, did you like hearing how you should do things when you were their age? Let them teach you something, give them time to show you something they think is cool. Even if you don’t, this opens the lines of communication and it can help them see you as a parent who gives a damn instead of the one who is ruining their life. 🙂
Great Books for raising tweens
The 5 Love Languages of Children
My favorite thing about this book is the quiz for your child to take, it helps hone in what their specific love language is and how to better communicate and bond with them.
Disconnected Kids: The Groundbreaking Brain Balance Program for Children with Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Neurological Disorders by Dr. Robert Melillo
This may seem misplaced, but hear me out. Our son has characteristics of ADHD and high functioning Asperger’s, what this means is he technically doesn’t have those disorders but he shows many of the difficult characteristics that come from both of them. This book offers way more than how to work with your child if they have a neurological disorder. It gives so many suggestions that are just good in general. Including exercises for children to do to help them with their spatial awareness and how their body works; there are diet suggestions for removing certain things to help with symptoms.
This is a pretty simple read, it gives some great points on how to talk to your tween about all the fun (sarcasm) adult situations they could find themselves in and how to be objective about those conversations. It also touches on how to create balance in your tweens life and ride out the storm together. It was an insightful read.