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.
- Have you had a request for a cell phone or email account or iPod from your child?
- Have you said no only to hear a door slam a few seconds later?
- Do you find yourself repeating directives only to hear stony silence in return?
- Does your child answer your questions with responses like “uh duh!” or give you that “you’re so lame” look?
- Have you added these words to your vocabulary: Wii, DS, Playstation?
- Is the “is your homework done” question a part of your nightly routine?
- Has your daughter passed into a strictly anti-princess phase?
- 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.
Here’s a confession: the early years of parenting were easier for me, even with twins, because there were plenty of resources available to me for the occasional parenting questions that popped up: books, mommyblogs, websites, and magazines. It made the leaky boobs, sleep-deprivation, toddler tantrums, and first day of big-boy school seem kind of humorous and endearing. And for those of you who are settled into the comfort of these early grade school years and are thrilled to be able to put back a little bit of the “me” in your “mommy,” enjoy this time. It’s precious. Because coming soon are the tween years, and right after that will come one fateful day when the child you have birthed and made cupcakes for and held when there was a scraped a knee will look at you in the eyes and a) lie, b) tell you that you don’t get it, or c) scream ”I hate you.” You will look around for support, tween moms groups, tween moms magazines, anything…and there won’t be any. The stories aren’t so funny anymore and everyone seems to stop sharing.
I’m not going to tell you to lower your expectations, though, and to stop putting so much pressure on yourself. I’m not going to suggest that you write off all the crappy behavior as a phase. I’m not even going to tell you that it will all get better. Why? Because parenting during these tween/teen years is going to be some of the hardest work you will do. It will make you cry and feel like a failure more often than not. You will not feel appreciated or valued during these years unless you are offering keys or cash. No, what all tween/teen parents need is commiseration and a place to go for perspective. That’s what we’re here for – to save the world one teen at a time. So suit up, my friends. Go get your cape. Our kids are depending on us.