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I got the word ‘tween’ all wrong when I first heard it a few months ago! I thought it referred to young adults in their late teens and early twenties! There is a ‘tw’ and an ‘een’ in there, after all!
And when I mentioned the term ‘tween’ to my kids the other days, they looked at me blankly and said, ‘What? You mean the Tweenies?’ (A TV show my kids watched when they were little – VERY little – better make that clear in case they read this!!)
So, anyway, for anyone who is as confused, or as ignorant, as we were (maybe ‘tween’ is not a British thing), the official definition of ‘tween’ is a child beTWEEN the years of 8 and 12, beTWEEN the years of childhood and adolescence.
If you’ve been following along with this wonderful 30-Day Tween Parenting Encouragement Blog Party (of which this post is Day 15), you’ll know that anyway!
Needless to say, I didn’t know I was parenting tweens until just a few weeks ago (when I looked up want it meant)!
I’ve actually completely ‘missed’ my boys’ tween years – they are now teens! And I only have four months of tweendom left with my daughter, who is 12. I want to make the most of it (not that the teens aren’t wonderful years too).
One of the things I most want to do for my beautiful tween daughter, (and my three teen sons), is love them with intention.
I love them. Of course, I do. A lot!
I pour myself out for them each day – picking up dirty clothes, cooking for them, chatting with them after school, listening, encouraging…
But I want to do more than that. I want to love my kids on purpose, not just the everyday-default-kind-of-loving (though that is a wonderful and necessary love).
I want to look at my tween daughter and think, ‘How can I love my daughter in a way that uniquely touches her heart today?’
I’d love to share how I’m learning to do this:
3 Steps To Loving Your Tween On Purpose
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1. Discover your child’s love language
Your child is unique! The way they best receive love is probably different from how you best receive love!
There are five love languages: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, gifts and acts of service (helping others).
Which of these most touches your tween? Do you know? Have you ever intentionally loved your child according to their specific love language? (They may have more than one top love language.)
The best way to discover your tween’s love language is through observation. Does your tween often come to you for hugs? Their primary love language may be physical touch. Does he or she ‘glow’ after you praise them for a job well done? Their primary love language is probably words of affirmation.
Conversely, if they’re not too bothered by you sitting down to do something special with them, but would rather be off doing their own thing, then maybe quality time is not so important to them.
Watching how your tween gives love is also a clue. Is your tween super generous, always giving, or sharing with others? A primary love language is probably gifts. Does your tween often offer to help out? Their primary love language could be acts of service.
Still not sure? Then head on over to the 5 Love Languages website and play the free online Love Language Mystery Game with them. This is a fun way to discover your child’s love language! (You might want to take your own love language quiz whilst you’re at it!)
2. Make a plan!
Now that you know your tween’s primary love language, be intentional in using it!
Your child needs to be loved in each of the 5 love languages, but the times you focus on their specific #1 love language will be extra special to them. This loving-on-purpose will touch their heart and create warm and wonderful memories.
Your plan can be as simple as getting a piece of paper and writing one thing you will do for your tween this week, in their love language, and when you’re going to do it.
If you’re stuck for ideas, I highly recommend the book ‘The 5 Love Languages Of Children’ by Gary Chapman (view on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). This book explains the premise of love languages, what each one is, and gives numerous examples and stories of ways to use each love language. (If your tween is almost a teen, I would use ‘The 5 Love Languages Of Teenagers’ instead -view on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk)
Ideas we’ve used with our kids include:
- Parent Date (quality time/gifts) – take your child out either one-on-one, or two-on-one (both parents) for a meal, shopping spree, or movie.
- Pillow Gifts (gifts) – leave a surprise snack or small gift on your child’s pillow.
- Card Talk (words of affirmation) – choose a card your child will love, and write them a special note. Either post it to them or leave it as a surprise for them to find.
- Room Tidy (acts of service) – tidy your child’s mess so they don’t have to do it (on the day before their normal chore day).
- Back Rub (physical touch) – offer a special back massage or tickle!
(I list lots more ideas in my FREE resource The Cultivate Love Challenge. More about that at the end of the post!)
3. Put it into action!
Probably the hardest part of intentional loving: actually doing it!
What more can I say? This is so often where I fall down. I have great ideas and great intentions, then life overtakes, time slips by, and another week is gone.
Isn’t it wonderful that there is no condemnation in motherhood in Christ! There’s always another day!
The best advice I can give in being intentional in love is to ask the Holy Spirit’s help. Ask his help in making time to intentionally love your tween. Ask his help to remember. And ask him to be alongside you as you love your child.
So there you go:
Discover your tween’s love language. Make a plan. Put it into action! (Ask the Holy Spirit’s help.) And be ready for some special moments!
**Intentional loving is, of course, not just for tweens. All our kids, whatever age, need to be loved on purpose. (Check out my post 3 Reasons Why Your Child Really Needs To Know YOUR Love.)
However, I feel the tween years are wonderful years to forge deep loving relationships with your kids, years when they are still receptive to hugs and cuddles, silly play, and hanging out with mum and dad. The teen years are also special, but you may have to be more inventive in loving your teen on purpose. Your teen may hang out with his friends more than with you. They may disappear into their bedroom for hours on end! Invest in loving your tween on purpose; that can then carry on over into a wonderful on-going relationship with your teen.**
For any parent finding the tween/teen years difficult, I share some of my own struggles in this post: I Can’t Carry My Children Anymore: All About Coming To An End Of Myself, Letting Go and Letting God (with FREE printable: 12 Practical Ideas to Help You, As You Support Your Child Through Difficult Times)
I’d also love to give you a FREE copy of my eBook:
The Cultivate Love Challenge is 30 pages of ideas (and the planners and printables you need to put them into action) to strengthen your marriage, deepen your relationship with your kids, and help your children grow in friendship, all put together in a printable pdf.
It includes plenty of 5 love language ideas and resources to help you love your kids on purpose!
Enjoy your tweens!
Did you miss the other days of the Tween Parenting Blog Party? Check them out here!
Joanna, her wonderful husband, and four lovely kids have travelled the world, lived in Malaysia, Bosnia and Turkey, and are now slowly settling back into the UK. Joanna has a heart to encourage and equip mums and moms to love their families and meet with God. She blogs at MumsKidsJesus.com and also hangs out (or tries to) on Facebook and Pinterest. She’d love to see you there!