So your daughter’s a tween and you’re ready to pull your hair out. She makes you laugh, she makes you cry. Unfortunately, it’s totally normal! Mom of 6 here to share some lessons (warnings?) you need to know about raising a tween girl!
When did she become a tween?!?
If you’re like me, you’re not sure how it happened. One day your sweet, adorable, innocent baby girl woke up with a mouth full of sass and your whole world changed. And it sure as hell wasn’t for the better! As the mother of six (four of them girls), I’ve been through this before – although not to the level my Bug has taken this phase. I’m here to share a few tips for saving your ever-loving sanity until it all passes. Yes, it passes. Pinky swear!
Encourage her to enjoy her youth!
Remember that time your tween turned 12? Yes, the epitome of tweendom. Stuck smack dab in between being a little girl and a full-fledge teen? Yea, that birthday! Kylee turned 12 in September. She felt she was too old for a party. Didn’t think the cake and candle lighting really suited her maturity level. Surprise gifts are for babies; gift cards are better suited for tweens, of course. All of those things – every single one of them – are for babies. You know what? I didn’t listen (I rarely do when it’s for the better good).
I sent her on her way with her older sister, and her dad and I decorated her entire room in Paris-themed decor (note: I respected her desire to travel one day, but still did the whole surprise thing). She was thrilled when she got home!
I invited her BFF to come over for dinner, cake, and spend the night. It was a welcome surprise!
I ordered the unicorn cake, paid way too much for it, and the smile on her face was worth every penny. She still loves unicorns – so do I – and I just want to encourage her to enjoy the magical things in life as long as she can before this whole ridiculous world tries to cut her down as I know it will.
Not what you say, how you say it!
I need for you to let this one sink in. Say it with me…it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it! This goes for both of you…every day…all the time. Raising a tween girl is hard, y’all. So, so hard.
When that sassy mouth opens, you just never know what’s going to come out. Whether it’s something a teacher said at school today, an outfit gone wrong, a ponytail that just won’t go up exactly right (this one causes MELT DOWNS in my house), it’s not what she’s saying that is always the issue, it’s typically HOW she’s saying it. Your tween (like mine) can tell you about a great accomplishment and make you walk away feeling like you just got run over by a bus. Because…attitude.
Be her biggest fan!
Remind her that you are there to share in her joys, accomplishments, fears, successes, and failures – that you’re her biggest fan. Then remind her that if she’d tell you all of those things in her non-bitch voice (probably not the best words to use!), you’d be more attentive because we all really want to be attentive and involved in our kids’ lives no matter what!
But the same goes for you (yes, mom and dad, I’m eyeballing you!). Just because your tween daughter has a sassy mouth does NOT mean you can retaliate with more sass than she could ever muster (because, let’s face it, we’ve got all the experience). First, let me point out that it’s totally acceptable to roll your eyes – I, myself, am a master. It’s totally not OK to sass back. I’m as guilty as the rest, but truly have never seen a positive outcome from our sass-fests and so, I try to avoid them. Instead, I walk away until she gets the hint. I take her phone. No, you can’t go to your friends house. I do all the things an adult should do until she relents. We both win and it typically results in laughter and silliness – both of which are my favorite things to enjoy with my tween!
Whether your daughter is into sports, cheer, singing, dancing, theater, leadership…it doesn’t matter. If it’s a positive force in her life, encourage it! Make yourself available. I know you’re busy – we all are these days – but you can be there to get her to practice on time, to cheer her on, to just show you care. That goes a long way; I know from experience.
In high school, I cheered. I loved to cheer. We had buses back then to drive us home from practice so my parents didn’t need to be involved there (lucky bastards!). I will tell you though, although I had very loving and supportive parents, I can count on one hand the number of times they came to watch me cheer. I never told them it hurt to look up and not see them, but it did. When I walk into the stadium where Bug is cheering, I make sure I walk right by her and wave before taking a seat. She always smiles the biggest smile. That gesture can move mountains during a very uncertain time in their lives. Just be present! It matters!
Embrace her individuality!
You do you, Boo! That’s kind of overused by now, but it totally applies when you’re raising a tween girl. Encourage her to be unique. It’s important for girls at this age to “fit in”, but they sure as hell don’t have to be Stepford kids and it’s our job to help them understand that. My Kylee is unique, very much so, and she’s learned to accept the person that she is and actually love herself. She has her moments of doubt, but it’s in those moments that I make sure I’m there, encouraging my unicorn, and guiding her into her next magical phase in life.
Best parenting award goes to…
Am I saying I’m the world’s best parent and I have this tween parenting thing down? Hell, no! I fail at the above from time and time, and I get so frustrated with my daughter that I wonder why I ever decided to have so many damned kids. But then I look at her and I realize that although she’s going through this difficult phase and she’s stuck between a woman and a child – so to speak – she’s doing OK. She’s got A’s and B’s in school (go Bug!), she’s a cheerleader and she’s good at it, she’s first chair bassoon in the school band, and her teachers really seem to like her. That’s how I measure success. So am I the world’s best parent? Not even close. Am I doing well raising a tween girl? You bet your ass I am!
Good luck to you and yours. Believe me, the years will pass, you’ll both forget how incredibly trying this brief period was, and believe it or not, you’ll become best friends again some day. It all happens in the blink of an eye. Enjoy every second and for heaven’s sake…DON’T BLINK!