Most people look at me as if I am a little addled when they discover my major in college. In fact, they usually won’t continue the conversation until I have offered an explanation for my choice.
You see, I majored in education with a specialization in 4th through 8th grades. There are tons of people who love the cute little kids and even a lot who prefer the older teens and young adults. Rarely, do you find people who adore children in those tween and early teen years. I am one of those rare individuals.
Why do I love tweens? Because they are the best age to teach. They have already picked up most of the basics in life and are ready to start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Even with the push to early adolescence in our culture, the tween is usually not finished polishing their veneer. They love to discover new things and you can see the light in their eyes when you show them how all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together in a really fun way. When I see a tween, I see a teaching opportunity that is probably only matched in very young children and college kids.
Unfortunately, tweens have an image problem. They really need to hire a better publicist for their group. All most people see when they encounter a tween is a gangly, pimply bunch of raging hormones. Where I see beauty, most people see awkwardness and unfettered emotions.
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you some things I have learned parenting a tween and a teen. My daughter and I are often approached by complete strangers questioning our obviously strong relationship. We are not alone though. I have known other mothers who were able to navigate these waters with relative ease. Interestingly, we all have the same basic parenting style. And we have all been accused of everything from giving birth to a compliant child to being codependent and more. (To my knowledge, none of these accusations are valid – especially the first!)
I hope I can share with you some of the things we have done to have solid relationships with our daughters (and some sons!) through the tween and teen years. My first challenge is for you to really look at your tween children. Try to see beyond the limbs they haven’t quite figured out how to use with the extra six inches, the pimples, the shouting and the tears.
Notice how she is suddenly starting to take personal responsibility for her schoolwork or her activities. See how he is becoming more skilled in his hobbies and talents. Listen how their voices are changing from the voices of children to the voices of adults. Hear their hearts as they voice concern for a friend or question something they read in the Bible or heard from the pulpit. Praise God for this miracle you have been given in your home and thank Him for the few years you have left to parent your children and teach them how to glorify, obey and serve God all the days of their lives.
After you have taken a new look at your tween, what are some of the beautiful, delightful things you noticed about him, her or them? I would love you to share your thoughts in a comment below. Your observations of your child might encourage another parent to see that same beauty in their own tween.