I have the privilege of helping to raise two tween girls who are not my own. They are 10 and 11, and I am immensely grateful to their mom for letting me join her in rearing her children. It sounds lovely to be a parent until you are neck-deep in sibling rivalry, the pushing of boundaries, and eye rolls to beat all eye rolls. Tween parenting is hard!
Tween parenting is hard!
So it comes as no surprise that many articles on tween parenting involve establishing boundaries and setting firm expectations. A colleague whose boys have reached college age echoed this advice:
“Middle school is hard for everyone,” she said. “It’s a weird time. But if you lay a good foundation of discipline for doing homework and enforce your expectations for how they are to handle their social skills, it will only help them to be ready for high school. Trust me. You will survive!”
It is good advice from a mom who has successfully navigated tween parenting.
And yet, I long for more in these parent-tween relationships, as does just about every parent!
Maybe because I am older than your average parent of tweens, I have found great value in saying YES to these tween girls.
Hear me clearly: I am writing this the same week that we limited TV viewing, held firm on the rule to not have phones in bedrooms at night, and sent one of the tweens to her room, which she finds incalculably worse than being forced to eat her vegetables. At the same time, their drive for independence (but don’t even think about taking away their stuffed animals) is crying out for us to occasionally and cheerfully say YES.
Saying YES to tweens’ requests
- conveys trust,
- opens up dialog, and
- builds relationship.
My hope and prayer is that all of this builds a foundation for the coming teen years when the issues will be even more challenging than what we face now. When uncertainty about sexual relations, drugs, and social media occur, will our teens feel safe coming to us for guidance?
By saying YES in these tween years, we convey trust in our tweens’ decision-making, we make space for conversation, and we build a lasting relationship.
So this week, along with disciplining, I also said YES to bumping the volleyball in the back yard when I really wanted to keep planting my garden. I said YES to going on a bike ride before school when that wasn’t exactly on my agenda. I even said YES to ordering a gallon of glue and helping to host a slime-making party. (You have to seriously love Amazon Prime for delivering a gallon of glue to your doorstep the very next day.)
You know what? We’ve had an absolute blast! Tween parenting can be fun!
Playing back yard volleyball opened up opportunities for honest conversation. The 10-year-old who wanted to bike every morning was not aiming for a long workout. She was looking for quality time together, just her and me. We have loved those early morning rides together.
And the 11-year-old, who led us in slime-making, felt empowered and finally valued for her creativity and industriousness. She’s been making slime for weeks, and we’ve been reluctantly putting up with it. Come to find out, slime is so cool! I actually had not made it myself, but by joining in her endeavor, I came to understand its appeal. No wonder it’s all the rage!
Yes, as part of tween parenting, we must establish boundaries and set expectations. But saying YES when it is possible opens incredible opportunities to convey trust, open up dialog, and strengthen relationships for the teen years that are to come.
What can you say YES to this week?
What a wonderful encouragement and needed reminder in the midst of our parenting and often busy lives! I know there are seasons where I have felt all I do is say No. It can be such a blessing to us all to say YES instead and let God work!
You can find more encouragement from Christine in growing your faith over on Digging Deeper With God. She has many devotions, blog articles and resources to encourage and equip you in your walk!
Here’s a little about Christine.
Hi there! I’m Christine Drews, and I am very glad you are here. By day, I edit exercise science manuscripts. By night, I pour over God’s Word, seeking God’s voice and writing devotions, along with all the other stuff of life–laundry, bills, and assorted extracurricular activities. I love bicycling, vegetable gardening, and mentoring the youngsters in my life. We’re currently working hard on math facts, and I’m secretly dreading the upcoming science projects. I am an imperfect person redeemed by a holy God. I look forward to Digging Deeper with God together with you.
Subscribe to www.DiggingDeeperwithGod.com and get a free PDF on How to Hear God’s Voice in a Busy World. If you’re like me, you long to talk with God and hear back from Him. This free PDF explains four biblical strategies to help you connect with the Lord. It comes complete with an index card for each strategy that you can carry with you to encourage your time with God.
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