As promised last week, today I want to talk with you about tweeners. A tweener is a young person that is between ten and twelve years old. They are called tweeners due to the fact that they are between being a child and a teenager.
This particular time of life can be extremely frustrating, taxing, emotional, and yet fun. Well, the fun is listed last due to the fact that often fun is the last thing a mom might feel like doing in this phase of their child’s life.
This phase has what I call “the mouth”. Some call it attitude, some call it hormones, some call it normal preteen behavior, but I call it “the mouth” for the simple reason that this is the time where our sweet loving children begin to argue about everything. This arguing is due to the fact that they are starting to be smarter than mom, at least they think so.
They are fulling understanding that they are no longer a child and are smelling adulthood on the horizon. These once sweet, kind, loving child becomes an emotional wreck. With the influx of hormones comes raw emotion, usually worn on their sleeves and kids that seemed to be stable are suddenly appearing to be creatures from another world.
We can become frustrated and even a bit harsh in how we handle this phase of our kids and should tread softly, cautiously, and most importantly, prayerfully. The reason for caution is that this is a time when things can be said in the heat of the moment that cannot be taken back.
First, I would encourage you to take a very deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Hold i-t. Now slowly exhale. This phase will lead eventually to adulthood. I have found, through trial and error (mostly error) that the kinder and softer I can keep my voice and tone, the more I accomplish. There are times when I can’t get a word in edgewise at which point, depending on the situation, a loud shout might be what will get their attention. This shout can cause their mouth to hang open in quiet shock or they may be stunned in to closing their lips, so that I may clarify what I am trying to say, command, or unstruct.
Let me take a moment to here to say that in no way, shape, or form do I condone abuse, emotional or physical. I do not condone belittling or berating another person; child or adult. We are to be encouragers to all people, especially our children.
We are to teach and affirm that they are created in the likeness of God and His creation is beautiful, and He has never said “Oops”. Our children are “fearfully and wonderfully made”, as stated by King David in Psalm 139:14 and should be treated at such.
Now that I have that off my chest, let me get back to the matter at hand. The tweener stage can be difficult. There are times when mom loses her cool. I remember one time I was talking with my pastor about being so discouraged because of how bad I blew an opportunity to teach my child something good. My pastor’s response to me was that they can still see something good.
He told me to go back to my child and say that I was sorry for not handling the situation in a way that honored God and by doing this I would demonstrate what I want them to learn. They will also see right before them an example of humility and grace. So, I asked my child to forgive me.
My heart was so humbled when this preteen told me, “Of course you are forgiven. I love you.” That became the teachable moment, not our fight. I received very wise counsel that day, of which I have not forgotten. Yes, I am mom, but I am also human and I don’t always do things the right way. In my pride, I want to gloss over and minimize my sin but that is not what my heavenly Father wants me to do.
It is humbling to apologize and ask forgiveness for losing your temper to you child, not matter their age. I do know that this will strengthen their respect, love, and honor of you. Your child will think it is pretty cool that they were asked to forgive and pray for you. You may even want to read them this verse, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much,” James 5:16 (NASB).
You are teaching your young person two things when you confess sin and ask for forgiveness: first you are teaching them how to confess sin and secondly, you are teaching them to forgive others. They learn the joy of forgiving, and the release from the burden of sin when they confess and are forgiven.
The other thing to remember when dealing with hormone laden children is that this too shall pass. The hormones will balance out, but in the mean time, pick your battles carefully. Will what you are about to have a battle over, make a difference tomorrow or in eternity? This thought applies to most areas of tweener life EXCEPT respect.
In the bible, respect is commanded to be given to those in authority over us which includes our parents. Respect and obedience are the two commands God gives children. These two are non-negotiables. Be sure that your rules, expectations, demands, are age and child appropriate. I remember hearing Dr. James Dobson say one time that we shouldn’t punish our children for childish behavior, but rather for disobedience.
As a mom, my heart is to love, encourage, and train my children to become fully functioning adults. I want them to succeed, I really do. Some days, however, I wonder if they will live to see their next birthday (figuratively speaking, of course). I have to be careful not to get caught in their emotional roller coaster with them. This causes me to lose my footing and come crashing down right beside them. My main defense is to stay in God’s word and in prayer which are our source for encouragement and wisdom.
I have a friend or two who have children older than mine. They have already come through the different stages with their children and I look to them for wise counsel, to help me laugh at myself, and help me see that it will all be okay.
Stay true to yourself. What I mean by this is be the person God wants you to be. Don’t feel like you have to be like other moms because they seem to have it so together. I can tell you for sure, that she is struggling just like you. Perhaps she is good at hiding her struggles.
I have told my kids many times in the past, that every family has issues. Some have bigger or more issues than others, but there is no such thing as a perfect family, no matter how good they may look on the outside.
My second oldest son, when he was a tweener had a friend whose family would travel often. It appeared that they had more money than us and seemed to have a perfect life. My son would tell me he wished we could be like them. Well, as time went on, my son had been with them on multiple outings, thus getting to know them better. He began to see, first hand, what I was telling him was true. He ended up telling me that they could have their money, travel, and seemingly cool life, that he would rather have his family than be like his friend’s. So, even though he thought I was being harsh, God showed him, through time with this family, that all families struggle.
In staying true to yourself, allow yourself some you time. It is okay for a little down time for you. Maybe send the little sweeties to their rooms early one night and take a long, warm bath, followed by reading a book or watching your favorite chic flick. Maybe you could have an evening with other moms. My favorite was to have date night with their dad. It is very important to spend time with your husband enjoying each others company without the distractions of home. Make him remember why he chose you and that you still think he hung the moon. One day your sweet children will leave and you want a marriage that will out live having children in the home.
Make your marriage the center of the home and not the children. I like to make a point, sometimes, of serving my husband first, or making a big deal about his arriving home, to show the children what true love looks like. I believe this honors and pleases God. Please don’t misunderstand, I am not saying to neglect your children. I am saying BALANCE. You and your husband chose to be married to be together; before, during, and after children. So, let your man know he IS the man. Hubba bubba (I’m not talking about gum here) These are a few of the things God will use to recharge your mom battery and give you the stamina needed to face another day. Not just face it, but live it in grace, love, and have a sound mind. Showing your kids how to do family life the real way, God’s way.
The last thing I would say, and this will continue over to the Part 3, is to communicate. In my experience, I have found that it is crucial to always keep the communication flowing. I am a talker and three of my six are talkers, too. We process by talking. The other three are weird like their dad (just kidding) and are thinkers. I found it didn’t matter which one of these they were, there were always opportunities to talk and to share.
I had to learn not to lecture, but to converse and listen. My children wanted to know that I heard them, so I would say things like “this is what I heard you say…tell me if I heard you correctly”. I was surprised sometimes at their reactions. It was clear they were surprised that I would ask. Frequently, I heard correctly, but occasionally I didn’t. So, by asking, this would give him/her the opportunity to clarify what they were trying to say.
I also told my children at this stage that they could say anything to me, that they disagreed or thought I was being unfair, as long as it was said with respect. I gave them the opportunity to learn how to have a voice and be heard.
So, until next time when I will talk about a mom’s heart for her teenager, may God bless you and your family with grace and good conversation!
What are some of the things you do to recharge your mom battery?