As a mom who is just beginning the tween parenting years, one of my biggest concerns is losing the ability to connect with my daughter.
And I don’t think that my concern is unreasonable.
When you really think about it, the sad truth is that our culture has so many potential barriers to maintaining solid parent-tween connections.
I know that not all families face these particular parent-tween barriers, but these are the ones that I see as the most problematic in our culture today:
Physical separation for most of the day. Children go to school; parents go to work.
Busyness. Children have extracurricular activities after school; parents have responsibilities at home after work.
Personal electronics. The amount of time spent engaged with a tablet or smartphone is becoming an issue for both tweens and parents (yikes!).
Take the above barriers and combine them with the negative influence that our tweens can receive from peers and the media, and you have a huge recipe for unconnected disaster!
My goal in pointing out these obstacles to connecting isn’t to dishearten you; I want to encourage you! But I truly think that we need to be aware of the fact that we face many obstacles in connecting with our tweens.
Because of all the potential barriers that can infringe on our parent-tween relationships, it is so important that we as tween parents make a deliberate effort to connect with our tweens!
Why is connecting with your tween important?
There are 3 big reasons that come to mind:
So that you can know your tween’s true feelings. When you truly connect with someone, it means that you feel comfortable enough around that person to be your true, genuine self. You can express your thoughts and feelings without fear of rejection. It is so important for tweens to be able to do this with their parents! This allows you, as a parent, to better serve your tween.
So that you can be your tween’s primary influence. When tweens feel connected to parents, they have no reason to look elsewhere for acceptance and connection.
So that your tween will hear and value your wisdom. You can have the best advice in the world for your tween, but if it falls on deaf ears, what good is it? And if you don’t have a strong connection, your tween isn’t going to value the wisdom you have to offer.
Connected tweens trust their parents’ wisdom and have a positive view of their parents’ instruction.
Connected tweens can see the truth of Proverbs 1:8-9:
“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.”
How do you connect with your tween?
Here is what I believe to be the key:
Connecting with tweens is about showing that you really, truly care about them. It’s about truly being interested in their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
When a tween feels this type of love from you, they will feel connected to you.
In our day to day routines, it’s easy for tweens to feel (and be) neglected. They are at a stage of complete (or almost complete) physical independence. This makes it easy for our time as parents to be spent more with younger siblings who require more attention and help.
If you have multiple children, it can be difficult to find time to spend with each child individually. But if possible, make special time for just you and your tween. (Even it is just a few minutes each day!)
The purpose of this special time is to truly focus on your tween without distraction. This often brings about a feeling of closeness and leads to many beautiful conversations.
Here are some ideas for activities that can help form and strengthen parent-tween connections:
Special reading time. After my 4 year old goes to bed, my daughter and I have special reading time that I know she treasures more than just about anything.
Spend time together outdoors. Take a walk together. Or just get outside in the sunshine and enjoy observing the nature around you. Exploring nature together is one of my tween’s favorite things to do outside! (You can read more about our nature study here.)
Get in the kitchen. Allow your tween to help with dinner or baking. Depending on your tween’s interest in cooking, they may even want to make something with minimal assistance from you. My tween daughter loves to spend time in the kitchen!
Special outing together. This can be something fun, or something as simple as allowing your tween to come along on errands or to the grocery store with you.
Special activity together. This can be something as simple as playing a board game or working a crossword puzzle together.
Pray and read the Bible together. This is a wonderful way to connect and help your tween’s faith grow!
And if it isn’t possible in this season of your life for you to have one on one time with your tween, there are still ways that you can strengthen your connection!
- Make an effort to pay attention to your tween in everyday conversation, and show that you care about their thoughts and ideas by the way you respond to them.
- Compliment your tween when you see good actions!
- And last of all (but in no way least!) pray for your relationship with your tween. This is something we can all do and probably the most powerful action of all.
What ways have you found to strengthen your connection with your tween?
What are your biggest barriers to connecting with your tween?
Make sure to let us know in the comments below!
This was Day 6 of 30 Days of the Tween Parenting Encouragement Blog Party!
That was Amanda Taylor from Teaching Little Hearts sharing her passion on The Importance of Connecting With Your Tween!
What great practical tips today! As a mom of 5, I appreciate how she gives us intentional ways to make sure we are connecting with our Tweens every day!
Amanda is a Christian, a born-again child of God, saved by His amazing grace. She’s happily married to her college sweetheart, and is the mother of two beautiful little hearts and is a homeschooler. Homeschooler or not, Teaching Little Hearts is a place for you to find inspiration and encouragement as you teach the little hearts that God has given to you!