Disclaimer: I am a rookie at this.
True, this isn’t my first time at the rodeo, my son will be 21 this year!
Raising a tween boy, however, does not compare to raising a tween girl.
At least not in my opinion.
Given that I am a rookie at this, I asked other moms who have done what I am currently doing.
I needed reassurance that I would survive with all my mental capacities intact. In other words, survive without anyone getting hurt.
The wisdom these moms provided was too good to not share. After all, moms with younger girls (newborn to school age) should know this information as well. What’s the old saying,
Before I share the “13 reasons why” wisdom from my new bosom mom friends, keep in mind that we’re all different. Even with our differences, though, we can still learn from what others have gone through.
My mom panel says, that if we do these 13 things, you and I will survive raising a tween girl.
Have bite-sized conversations early on with our girls.
“Moms must be the ones to lay the foundation of always being truthful with our girls. This is important because we want them to understand that we are speaking from experience. The experience from their fellow tween-aged friends does not compare to that of their mom. Talk to them about sex and relationships early. Make sure that she hears about getting her period from you first, arm her with books that the two of you can read together. If she doesn’t want to read together, let her read on her own and ask questions afterward.” – Sandra I.
Let go of perfection
“Parenting can be ugly at times, plain and simple. Even though she’s a tween, her mom is still her example. Allow her to see you at your strongest and weakest moments so that she can see your victories and your struggles. The world, unlike what reality TV stars want us to believe, is made up of ups and downs. Your daughter needs to hear and see that from you.” – Marisol P.
Learn to laugh. Even if you’ve learned this lesson, laugh more.
“There will times when you will have to laugh to avoid crying. You may even have to laugh at yourself! That’s ok. Things may get rough but remember the scripture that says:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Keep this in mind not only as a reminder for adding laughter into your life but also to not be such a grouch that you crush your daughter’s spirit.” – Bridgett C.
Allow your tween daughter to express her emotions
“The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from raising a tween girl is to allow her to express her emotions. It was a game changer when I began to reflect on some of the internalized messages I received growing up and how that was hurting my relationship with her. I was taught that anger is bad. Don’t cry unless you have something to cry about and then go to your room. So, what do you think happened when my strong-willed highly emotional daughter became a hormonal tween? I didn’t like that! And I realized I wanted better for her. So, I did some soul searching and began to get in touch with my own emotions; learning to feel and express them. Emotions are what connects us to each other’s heart. This was a process that had a healing and life-transforming impact on how I parented my daughters and every relationship I had.” – Sheryl G.
Don’t stop being affectionate
“My daughter has taught me many things, one being becoming a hugger. Growing up, my parents were not affectionate, I can count on one hand the number of times my mom hugged me in my entire life. I knew I wanted to be different with my kids but I didn’t know how. My daughter took the Nike slogan to heart, she just did it. Kids are simple that way, early on they don’t know any better so there aren’t any hindrances for them. Now that she’s a tween, we still hug, sit beside each other on the sofa and watch TV. There is a part of tween girls that still craves affection and I wanted her to learn about the right type of affectionate from our family rather than from others.” – Kim S.
Find creative ways of keeping conversations alive
“One of the first chapters of the tween years is that of silence. You know you’ve entered this stage of a child’s growth because you may not get a quick response from them when you ask a question. You may not get any response! I went through this with my daughter for a while but soon learned to take advantage of the amount of time we spent in the car. All of those car rides going to soccer practice, tutoring, birthday parties or shopping, I noticed that she talked more freely to the back or side of my head rather than having to stare me in the eyes. Here’s the thing: take what you can get. It may not be how you and your mom talked but at least you and your daughter are talking.” – Stephanie C.
Understand that it’s their job to push the limits
“This was a tough pill to swallow. Not sure why though because I did the same thing to my mom! We’ve all done it. Once we hit a certain age, we start to back away from our parents. Up until this point, we viewed our parents as our life jackets. A life jacket’s purpose is to allow us to get in the pool but still keep us afloat. At some point, though, we want to be like the big kids and swim without that uncomfortable, embarrassing life jacket. Sure, the life jacket helped us learn how to swim, making sure we didn’t drown, it served its purpose. But now the time has come to become a proficient swimmer and to do that we must push the limits by removing that life jacket. Of course, it’s scary taking that first swim without it but we keep trying until we get the hang of it. Even as we backstroke in the pool, the life jacket is always there if we need it. Pushing the limits is a key part of growing up and knowing that our parents are there for us contributes to this growth. Sure, as a mom, it hurts seeing our kids function without us but isn’t that the end result we wanted?” – Tiffany B.
Don’t tolerate rude behavior
“Of course, she’s gonna test you. That testing could come in the form of rude behavior. My daughter went through this stage where she would mumble underneath her breath. When I asked her to repeat herself, she would just say “nothing”. I respected her for trying to exert her new stage in life but I would not be her guinea pig. Typically, we hurt those closest to us. Her actions were a testament to mom being the enemy because I was getting all of the rude comments, the eye rolls, and the stomping off. When I was her age, this type of behavior did not work in my parent’s house because the result would be punishment, a spanking or both. There was never a discussion to try and understand why I did or said the things I did or said. Although punishment, spanking or both are not out of the question, I also wanted to understand why tweens go through (thank goodness it doesn’t last!) this stage. After learning that it’s a part of their brain development, my husband and I sat our daughter down and talked. I had to learn how to not chase the carrot she dangled in front of me. Most tween rude behavior happens because they want us to react. Once we react, they are satisfied. It’s hard but I had to learn how to control my emotions.” Kelly G.
Continue to be her #1 cheerleader and coach
“She needs to know that she can do anything she sets her mind to but also know that success will not be handed to her on a silver platter. As her mom, I wanted to make sure I encourage her to do her best. Even when her teachers would tell me how she finished a science exam in 12 minutes and received a failing grade, I discussed the exam with the teacher and held my daughter accountable for not checking her work. I didn’t want to be the parent who swoops in to save the day, not the mom who runs up to the school when the child forgets a field trip permission slip. Children must learn that there are consequences to everything we do in life. I want her to know that I am proud of her, that I will coach her to recheck her work if she finishes a test quickly. I figure if her dad and I are her biggest cheerleaders and coaches, she should not have to search for appreciation elsewhere.” – Andrea B.
Acknowledge that they remember the love
“My girls are 13 and 18. I have been a mess as a mom for much of their lives, but the older I get, the more I see evidence of this truth: they remember the love. On my recent birthday, my girls left notes around the house for me. One said “the happiest of birthdays to one of the people who makes me the happiest.” My 18-year-old left one that said, “Happy birthday to my biggest supporter.” So many times, I have not made them happy and have not supported them, and yet somehow, the love I have for them has carried through, and when they have to boil it all down to a note, that love ( and the support and the happy moments) is what they remember. Thank goodness :-)” – Elizabeth S.
Teach her how to love her body by loving your own
“Please don’t let Instagram models “teach” your daughter how to have a great self-image or what a gorgeous body should look like. When my daughter was younger, she would hear me say stuff about my fat stomach or my small breasts. One time, she even made a comment about my fat stomach in public and reached out and rubbed it! I felt like melting but couldn’t because she had heard me talk about how much I hated it. Soon, I noticed her sucking in her stomach, she was 9! At that moment, I knew I had to stop the body hating I was doing to myself or body shaming other women. Now, not only does she hear me talk about my toned legs and firm arms but she sees me going to the gym to stay fit. I talk about how great I feel after a workout. We’re at the point to where she asks if she can wear my clothes once I don’t want them anymore!” – Tameka D.
Stay in your lane
“You’ve heard it before, don’t try to be your kid’s BFF. It won’t work, you can’t keep up! You’re being unfair by trying to be their friend. When you were growing up, you had friends your age. Don’t take this important stage of growing up away from them. If you’re the BFF, you’re trying to test the boundaries with them instead of setting them. When my daughter was a tween, I was the cool mom. I was cool because many of her friends felt like they could talk to me and they saw the relationship I had with my daughter. I wasn’t the cool mom because I let them party at our house or had house parties where I served them alcohol. Yes, it’s good that you know the latest lingo they use. You don’t keep up with that stuff to be the cool mom, you educate yourself on words and apps they use to be aware if any trouble starts” – Anita S.
Remember you were once this age
“Regardless of how long ago it was, you were once a tween. I still remember staying locked up in my room, blasting New Kids on the Block. I remember having trouble deciding which member of the group I would marry, talk about tough decisions! I also remember being in middle school, being afraid to wear my glasses all day because I didn’t want to get picked on. I remember feeling like I would never grow up. It’s difficult knowing how to react when your body revolts against you. Even when your daughter cannot fully explain why she’s crying, just be there to offer a hug and her favorite ice cream. You may not have had a mom to do that for you but you remember how you felt and what would have made you feel better at that time. Be that for your daughter.” – Stacey G.
Of course, there are more than 13 reasons why we’ll survive parenting a tween girl. This is just the first installment. I don’t expect you to remember this entire list so download my handy reminder sheet.
What would you add to our list?