Our daughter is in her last year as a “tween-ager”. (Could someone please invent a new name for this stage? I don’t mind the age group but have never liked that descriptor!) A tween is often defined as someone between the ages of 8 – 12. Other times a tween is defined as an alien who has taken over a previously innocent child’s body…either way, you know you’ve got one when you get there!
It has been for the most part, a fabulous journey, one that makes me look forward to the coming teen years. There are good times to be had in Tweendom, people! I hope that some of the fabulousness is due in part to some choices we have made and habits we are growing to help us make the most of every age and stage of life and parenting we go through.
One of my favourite habits we’ve developed over the last year or so is where my daughter and I go to a coffee shop, grab our favourite drink and just, um, “talk amongst ourselves” for lack of a better phrase. Sometimes we get all verklempt, but most of the time it’s just good!
I wish we had started this practice when she was younger – but only because it’s been so positive. The rules for these times are simple. I put aside my “parenting agenda” and practice the habits of listening, asking questions, doing more listening, perhaps offering advice in an encouraging/non-lecturing way- when it seems appropriate, and, you guessed it, more listening.
The reason for doing this is simple. I want to be in the habit of listening to her as she grows up, and I want her to be in the habit of talking to me about what’s going on in her life. I want her to know that her Dad and I are a “safe place” to share her joys, fears and concerns with, and I can think of no better way to do that than showing her that that’s what we are! I find that life often feels so busy that important things like communicating – in a different context than “clean up your room and finish your homework”- don’t happen by accident.
One of the best things about these date nights with Morgan is that it really helps me appreciate and love the young woman she is becoming. It helps me understand how she is wired, and what things really matter to her. Better understanding almost always leads to better communication, and it never hurts to fall in love with your kids a little bit more!
Here’s to building good habits and good memories in the tween years!
What practices have helped strengthen your relationship with your tweens and teens?