by Lisa Archinal Posted Feb 22, 2017
I still remember the day. It was Tuesday, January 25, 2012, and my 12-year-old daughter left me a love note. YES! In a world where tweens are often characterized as moody and aloof, my girl showed evidence of actual connection.
Entering the realm of tween parenting, I felt a little like Katniss in “The Hunger Games.” We’re locked in this space together until the tween reaches adulthood. Who will come out alive? Will it be a fight to the death?
Navigating adolescence can be like teaching a child to ride a bike. The child is excited and anxious. The parent is nervous but confident she can do it. You hold onto her bike with both hands until you’re sure she’s ready. Even after letting go, you watch closely and help her up when she falls. In no time she’s riding on her own.
Too often when those delicate tween years approach, our loving children transition into distant creatures trying to ride off on their own without any sense of balance or direction. By sheer panic we let go too soon, feeling like all we can do is watch and hope for the best. Parents find themselves asking:
– Where did my daughter go?
– What happened to our once close relationship?
– What did I do to make her shut me out?
A mixture of hormones, social pressures, and a growing need to be independent all factor into this holy mess of the tween/parent relationship. What can we do? Lock them away until their 18th birthday? Put them up for auction on eBay? Don’t think I didn’t consider these options at some point!
Perhaps there is a better way. What if we:
– Listen more than talk
– Are willing to discuss awkward stuff (sex, body changes, dating)
– Remember it’s not about us
– Remain calm
– Prioritize family vacations, family dinners, family devotionals (see a theme??)
Hang in there, mom. You can do this! God has given us some great resources. Consider:
When it comes to my kids, I depend on God’s grace with complete, face-down abandon. Like you, I am completely committed to this relationship. The tween years are a lot like the bike lesson. My daughter was excited and anxious about becoming an adult. I was nervous yet confident she was on the right track. When she falls we are there to help her up. At just the right time we will let go, but until then we are holding on with both hands.
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Editor’s Note: We have many Parent/Child weekend conferences throughout the year, with tons of combinations of parents with kids of varying ages. Be sure to check them all out here!