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The Tween Reality

December 11, 2015 - Stacey Sacco
Parents joke that we were better at our jobs before we had children. When the reality of temperaments, illness, circumstances, and exhaustion set it, we change our standards. Not drop them all together, but make them more reasonable. We tend to be a little more forgiving, of ourselves and other parents. Ten years ago, I was the ideal parent. Now, I’m just good enough.

You would think I had learned my lesson about making assumptions in parenting. But apparently, I had not.

Until very recently, I was convinced that “tween” was not actually a developmental stage. I was never dubbed at tween at age nine. I don’t remembering feeling pressure to act like a snotty teenager at that age. This recent phenomenon must be some kind of marketing ploy to convince parents that they don’t have to wait until age 13 to buy an iPhone. Do it while they are tweens- they want it anyway!

Or maybe it’s a parent’s excuse for their child’s miserable behavior. After all, if they are only one letter away from the dreaded teen-age-hood, they will probably start coping an attitude and locking themselves in their rooms too. Might as well just accept it and move on.

And now I have a nine year old. In the last few months, he has reverted to the whining and disobedience of a two year old. Stomping his feet and yelling, “NO!” Suddenly, it’s oh so real.

What turns the switch from reasonable communication and cooperation to sulking, refusing, and you-can’t-make-me attitude? It’s not hormones. We’re just not really there yet. It’s not peer pressure. If anything, his behavior is much worse at home than in public. Plus, with homeschooling, I have more control over who he spends time with.

I’ve recently discovered that even child development experts recognize this in-between stage. They are no longer children, but certainly haven’t yet developed the markers that would make them teenagers. And, I’m sure everyone will be surprise to learn, I was wrong yet again. Tactics that worked with younger children no longer work with this kid. Just when I was finally starting to think I had a handle on some of this parenting thing, the whole game changes.

There is a new balance of independence and authority. A little more of one, a little less of the other. Except when one isn’t handled well. Then we have to stop and reevaluate AGAIN. This is made even more complicated by the fact that everyone in my house is younger than our tween and does not get the same kinds of privileges. They also do not have the same responsibilities. All of this falls in the “not fair” category for at least one child at all times.

As we start to get a glimpse of our new tween reality, I can see that our family dynamics will change. Out of necessity, time and patience and energy will be divided differently than ever before. Just like having a newborn, we have never been at this point before. Our poor first guinea pig, I mean CHILD, will test the waters for us. Tweendom is real, and really intimidating.

 
 

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Ugh, I'm too old for this. Don't even think about taking my picture and posting it on the internet.