Saving the World One Teen at a Time - Column on Parenting Tweens and Teens

Betwixt and Between.

by Kristy Campbell



I’d like to extend a virtual handshake to Mommy Tracked readers. I’m Kristy Campbell and if you have kids from 8-18, I’m your new best friend. I have five children from age 1 to age 17. If I've survived the madness – certainly so can you.


Many parents fear the pre-teen and teenage years -- and for good reason. The issues and stresses that arise during this period can be so overwhelming that it may seem like a better bet to close your eyes and just hope for the best. If you are brave enough to raise your head from the sand, perhaps together we can explore some ideas for raising perfectly imperfect tweens and teens.


Raising relatively happy, fairly well adjusted teens and young adults starts in the tween years. Tweens are defined by child development specialists and marketers as being ages 8-12. Some trend researchers are starting to talk about the pre-tween years being ages 6-8. Yep. The groundwork starts now. Sex talks. Crushes. Thongs. Eating disorders. Drugs. Ages 6-8. Seriously.


Here’s a quick quiz to see help you identify the species in case there is one lurking in your home.

  1. Have you had a request for a cell phone or email account or iPod from your child?
  2. Have you said no only to hear a door slam a few seconds later?
  3. Do you find yourself repeating directives only to hear stony silence in return?
  4. Does your child answer your questions with responses like “uh duh!” or give you that “you’re so lame” look?
  5. Have you added these words to your vocabulary: Wii, DS, Playstation?
  6. Is the “is your homework done” question a part of your nightly routine?
  7. Has your daughter passed into a strictly anti-princess phase?
  8. Are you wondering what the perfect age is to allow ear piercing?

Don’t be scared. I can help. My goal is to talk straight about the tough stuff.



Great column. Need info on these "Tweens" and "Teens". Just saw a do-do note of my 13 yr old girl, (it was not hidden) ... 1) lose virginity to ---, 2) go to Tokyo 3) get a dog, then on with about 10 other things. I was and still am shocked and have not had a discussion yet as I'm "speechless".


I am so glad to see someone writing about kids of this age. There is definitely a shortage of places for Mom's of older kids to share. I help teenagers who are struggling with managing their grades, stress and time and their parents are always at a loss, since they may not want to share with neighbors for fear of censorship.
I look forward to reading your articles.


Sounds like a winner to me! As a mom of 4 children - 16, 13, 11 and 5, I have been through it, am going through it, and have some years to anticipate it, all at the same time. It is harder to get feedback on these years than any other, and sometimes you really feel a little alone in the saddle. So I look forward to your column!


Ditto all the other comments/posts.
We do need "tween" advice/stories/etc. It is hard to come by online, in print.

Looking forward to reading your column. I have a 10 soon to be 11yr old boy.



I have 4 kids-17,14,11,9. I am facing issues of over-cell phone use, porn on the internet,setting boundaries and holding fast to my high expectation of my well behaved, great kids.I don't live in a bubble though. Even great kids need some boundaries. Today I just wanted to sit down and cry and then I saw your article. I look forward to being a part of these years with other moms going through the same thing.


I am so glad you are writing this column, I have a 14yr old and twin 10 yr old all boys, In all fairness they are great kids, but I know better and this is the calm before the storm with my oldest. So its funny,I am the one who plays videos with them, and the displinaian. My husband is thier friend,and they are a handful. So reading your words are a breath of fresh air.And a life line to others like me:)


I share the same thoughts. I'm guilty of crying already, but that was when she was 7, now at 8 I'm not sure how to react most days-mostly it's fear; fear that we will lose her, that I will lose my mind or my temper. She came home about 2 weeks into the beginning of school (3rd gr) and she said to my husband (I was @ grad sch)that she would start her period soon and become a "woman". My Husband was floored. He calmly told her she needed to speak to me, and that I would be home soon. After talking with her that evening she says a classmate told her this. I decided to do a little research and found a book, The Care and Keeping of You. Although some areas were a bit too graphic for the most part we discussed the topic of menstruation. It wasn't so much that she said what she said, it's how she speaks about things. I have thought that maybe I am missing something- I wonder why she is so preoccupied with boys and getting 'noticed'. My husband says this is all normal. He listens alot to Dr. Laura and agrees with almost everything she says. I honestly and am even scared to think that this isn't normal. She does well in school and there are no complaints as of yet on her behavior. I know her to be quite the story teller. I just pray and pray and keep an eye on her as much as I can.


Your column is coming along just at the right time. With a 9 year old and 7 year old, I am sooner going to leave the "bubble" of the blissful pre-tween years.....sigh....


Yikes, as a hopeful mom to be you already scared me about these years...although I remember myself at that age and am still apologizing to my mom so I think I had a fairly good idea.


I am so there!!!
I had the drug question yesterday from one son, age 11. His twin and I have already had the talk about erections and masturbation. They went to their first school dance last Friday.