Tween: A New Season of Parenting


I am in a weird season of life in which I’m dealing with two kids who are in their tween/early teen years and two who are in the preschool stage. It definitely wasn’t the original plan but I’ve learned that plans are meaningless and nothing will follow them. I find myself navigating issues that I know how to handle (preschoolers) and navigating issues I have no idea what to do (tween/teen) and I’m not sure how to handle them “the right way” sometimes.

Especially with my oldest daughter.

Tween: A New Season of Parenting | Duluth Moms Blog

She is going to be 14 in just a few weeks and she is really the greatest kid in the whole world. She’s smart, she’s responsible, she’s helpful and she’s kind; everyone likes her and with good reason. If I could make a mold of her and give one to you all, I would, she really is that special. For the most part, she makes great decisions. She’s learned how to weed out friends who aren’t so good for her but is still kind to them. She’s learned how to help others and stick up for herself.  Truly, there haven’t been too many problems I’ve had to help with.

Mostly because I’ve chosen not to.

I read an article online a few weeks ago and the summary of it was to remember what it was like to be 14 when you are parenting a 14-year-old. That really struck me because while I can’t remember a lot of it, there are parts that I do remember, most notably all of the time I spent in my room being alone. It was my favorite thing to do and I would get lost into music and reading lyrics, going onto the Internet (it was just becoming a thing back then, that’s how old I am) and talking to strangers in chat rooms without thinking about predators and creeps out there. I remember feeling really isolated because I couldn’t go to the houses of my friends and they couldn’t come to my house because my parents just didn’t like it. I felt like when school started everyone had cool stories and strengthened friendships over the summer and I was left out of all of it so I was forgotten.

As an adult now, I find that, as I get older, it’s more difficult to manage anxiety and I’ve become lazy. I just don’t want to meet new parents. I spent all of the years through elementary school making friends and becoming familiar with the parents of my kids’ friends and I wish the work was done. But they go to middle school and make new friends, drift away from old friends, and sometimes that bums me out because those parents were my friends too.

I tried to remember what it was like to have big feelings at 14 and not understand why everything felt like it was the end of the world. I tried to remember all of the times that I was mad because my parents didn’t know anything and they were the absolute worst and meanest. I also try to remember what it felt like when they told me I was a great kid, or recognized when I really was doing my best. But most importantly, I try to remember what it was like to need more from my parents and not get it.

Tween: A New Season of Parenting | Duluth Moms Blog

This summer I’ve tried really hard to remind my kids what they did right that day and what I appreciate about them. I’ve tried to give them what I wish I had as a young teen. I’ve even tried to get out of my comfort zone and do stuff with the kids. For me to go to a park, go to the library, go to a kid-friendly event, say hello to a new mom is a HUGE accomplishment because anxiety and depression is difficult to live with. I want them to go back in September still with the friendships they had in June before school finished.

Sometimes though, my encouragement and participation can’t change the tides. Sometimes friendships go away, and new ones will come. I know the hurt my tweens feel because I’ve felt it my entire life and still, from time to time, experience it as an adult. I try to back up and let them deal with it in their own way and offer guidance only when I’m asked.

It’s hard as a parent to take a step back. For all of these years we’ve been a fixer: falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, play group bullies, classroom troubles, all of it, that’s been our job. I didn’t realize that the kids were soaking in and learning the way I handled things all of these years. Thankfully, I’ve always been pretty mature and level-headed and they are proving to be that way as well, but it’s really tough as a parent to know at some point, you have to start letting go of the bicycle seat.

Eventually they will back the car out of the driveway without you. Someday they will pack up that car and drive off to their first apartment. We aren’t there yet but I feel the winds changing and I know a new season of parenting is coming. It reminds me of the last month or so of your first pregnancy. You know it’s going to be all different but you have no idea how to prepare and so you hope for the best.