Parenting A Tween: Oh My!

Susan Marchaund is a 12-year-old girl who is trapped between being cool and being herself. She’s a terrific Middle School child with great grades, lots of friends and hormones that are firing on all cylinders. Her parents, Mark and Joan Marchaund are perpetually stumped. They have a great kid who does well in school, but who straddles the line between being a kid and being a teenager. It’s a whole new world for them and a hard place to parent from; for Susan, it’s an even harder place to be in.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons they say Middle School is one of the most awkward times of our lives. They are determined to help Susan navigate this time effectively and with grace, so they turned to a coach for help.

“Let’s face it,” says Susan “children don’t come with rule books or guides. Each child is different, and each family is different, and even as adults we need some support dealing with the issues that were once our own.”

Coaches that work with families in the Middle School age group typically agree that it’s important to remember this is a short period of time in our lives. Between puberty and other changes, it’s going to be challenging for everyone. The changes are physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual, just to name a few. In many ways, it’s like a perfect storm of change all happening at the same time.

Here are some of our coaches’ tips to help navigate these ever-changing waters, while bringing parents and children closer than they ever expected. They will set both parents and children up for success for the long haul, while bridging the gap between the formative and teen years.

  • Schedule time to be together.  Don’t get upset with your child’s newfound independence.  They aren’t leaving you; they’re finding out who they are.
  • Don’t come across as overly judgmental.  Hear your child out.  Listen with an open mind and with respect and then make decisions.  At the very least, your child will feel heard.
  • Learn about what your children are watching on tv and on social media.  Watch with them.  
  • Take a genuine interest in and learn about what interests them.
  • Monitor social media and teach your children how to use it wisely.  Remember, whatever you post today will be there tomorrow — and next year — and even ten years after that.  It can come back to haunt you when you least expect it, and it is very, very public.
  • Start stressful conversations eloquently.  Be open and don’t be afraid to talk about controversial subjects.  It does make a difference.  
  • Strike a balance between knowing what you think you know and being clueless about something.  The fact is that the more you know the better you can help your child.  
  • Encourage girls to play sports and nurture your son’s gentle side.  Both will help your children develop into strong, independent adults.
  • Help your child appreciate others.  Do charity work or volunteer work not because they must do it for school.  Do it because it is something you want to do as a family.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Let your children invite friends.  Share the wealth.  It’s good for everyone.