Tween. Not quite a teen, not quite a child. As if being a teen isn’t hard enough, our culture has found a way to force a child into adolescence before many are ready. Culture even gave it a name. Tween. As a Momma of a boy and a girl, I think this tween thing is harder on girls. It hits them right when their self-confidence can be weakened. Their bodies begin changing before many of the boys their age, and many tweens begin to feel awkward and out of control.
I’ve seen girls who seem completely confident being unkind to their friends. While I am far from an expert in child rearing, I think these “mean girls” might just be trying to hide their own insecurities. They save a place at the lunch table for their chosen friends, rudely rufusing even space at their table for the un-chosen. This kind of hurtful behavior is tough for even the most confident to deal with. The same mean girls befriend and de-friend at the drop of a hat leaving hurt feelings in their wake.
When my daughter was just a little girl, I began reading “Queen Bees and Wanna Bees”. I couldn’t even finish it. Just reading it broke my heart thinking of how so many tweens/teens felt that kind of rejection. I seem to remember that the book left me with a sense that I hoped my daughter would find a way to show kindness to a solitary girl. To find a way to be friends with individuals, not move with the herd of any group. I hoped she would be able to make her own decisions and avoid the peer pressure to conform. I hoped she would be able to make a few close friends that she could trust. I hoped those close friends had mommas who shared my hopes. I hoped she would find a friend who came from a family who fed their daughters’ minds, souls, self-confidence. I prayed for the friends that my daughter would make when I no longer chose them. When my daughter and her friends were within the safety of our home, I try to listen. If they ask, I try to counsel tenderly reminding them to be kind to each other and to others. I remind them that they are bright young women whose parents love them desperately. I remind them that the rules that they hate are our way to keep them safe.
Yes, being a tween and a teen is tough. Parenting them ain’t easy either. My goal for the this stage of my life is to try to avoid judging these children caught in this difficult stage. I’ll try to listen and guide, and mostly just pray, not only for my daughter, but those young women who fill her life in my absence.