The 6 Best Things About Tweens
Why you shouldn't dread the tween years, and how you can enjoy them the most
When my kids were younger, friends with tweens gave me dire warnings: "It's a whole new world -- much worse than the terrible twos." "You won't believe the change in your kid -- like night and day." "Just wait until they hit middle school; brace yourself."
Now my older kids (A.J., 11, and Mathilda, 14) have reached the dreaded tween/teen stage. And guess what? I'm still waiting for doomsday to strike. Don't get me wrong; we've had a few bumps. But there's more to tweens than hormone surges and moodiness. In many ways, these crazy years are my favorite phase yet. This is why:
The Good News: You Have a New Buddy
Yes, I know, your job description doesn't read: "My Kid's Best Friend." And, no, you're not equals. But the tween years provide endless opportunities to bond on a deeper level than you did when your child was little. I can take Mathilda or A.J. out to lunch and have a completely different experience from a few years ago, when a trip to a restaurant meant watching them color the kids' menu and knock over their milk. Now we discuss everything from their friendships to current movies to politics. (And if they have to go to the bathroom, they find it on their own.)
Sharon Pomerantz Strelzer recently experienced an unexpected buddy moment with her 10-year-old daughter, Samantha. "We had a rainy movie day, just the two of us, and the choices were to see either Pink Panther 2 or Confessions of a Shopaholic," says the Fairfield, CT, mom. "Samantha said, 'Let's save the Pink Panther for Daddy and have a girls' day out!'" The two happily watched Shopaholic together.
Make It Even Better: You've got to shift gears during the tween phase, says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D., author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent's Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go. "Enjoy the changes and be aware that she is entering a new phase -- don't expect the same old behavior."