These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish? – Phyllis McGinley, Ballad of Lost Objects, 1954
Quite likely this is what goes on in our heads as our children turn into tweens. Tween is a word coined for children aged between ten and twelve. Mine has a favourite line these days, ‘You won’t understand these things!’ Every time she says that I have new found respect for my mother.
This is an age, in the words of a very old chocolate advertisement, when they are too old for toys and too young for crushes, but seem just right for arguments.
After initial exasperation, I tried gaining sympathy from some experienced parents. All of them smiled and said the same thing, ‘Oh! It’s the age, it will pass’. And that made me more curious. What is it about this age that makes them want to argue so much?
Here are some things I learnt and how I try (and often fail) in combating these arguments:
The difference between a teen and pre-teen is that tweens will actually say the most brilliant things in an argument, but will do the most immature things, like forget to tell you that they need to get to school an hour early the next day. Teenagers today, on the other hand, are actually responsible about their stuff.
Tweens are awkward and insecure but do not want to show their insecurity:
The ‘coolness’ is just setting in, so they need to be in a position of control. They do want your support; they are scared that they may not be ‘cool’ if they ask for help. It is very important for parents of growing children to notice their activities, rather than ask. Try to oversee their actions with their friends, on the internet etc, without interfering. As long as everything is in control, a little showing off or ‘being cool’ is acceptable. If you feel they need intervention, do it in private.
Tweens start to rely more on friends than parents:
Their close friends slowly start replacing their family as their centre of existence. They feel they understand them better than their parents. This is where most parents start pressing the panic button and start exerting control and this leads to innumerable arguments. Do not misunderstand this, they still need you to wake them up, pack their lunch, and take them shopping. They just don’t want you to tell them what to eat, what to wear, etc.