lifestyle

5 reasons why the tween years are the hardest.

Parents of young children face many well-documented challenges.

Namely, the never-ending chatter of the little person who shadows you around the house, asking, “Why Mum? How come? Why not?” Their stories are sweet, but detailed, long-winded and never… seem to… get to the point.

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But fast forward a few years and parents find themselves needing to be strategic just to get their child to speak to them at all, using tactics such as the daily car trip window of opportunity. Because whether it’s the lack of distractions, the space, or the convenience of all-in-one captivity, I’ve found that cars are a great place to draw out a conversation with older kids.

Because in those few years since your child told you every thought that passed through their mind, something has happened. It starts with an unsuspecting eye-roll. A shrug of the shoulders. A request to stay home from the grocery shopping. It is confirmed by the presence of Taylor Swift or knowing what 5SOS is. You have a tween among you. And life with a tween presents a whole new set of challenges.

However, unlike the parents of little ones who have access to tons of parenting-help books, cooing aunties and opinionated in-laws, unsuspecting parents of tweens have nothing specific to arm themselves with – no app to translate the wild mood swings, no set of rules for the hyper-dramatic, all-consuming 1D universe they have just entered.

 Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Nissan Pathfinder. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words. 

Here’s the top five reasons why the tween years are actually the hardest.

1. The push-pull.

The Tween push-pull is a confusing new phase of development, driven by surges of hormonal activity. One minute, the Tween will delight you with a big hug, tell you you’re the best and kiss you on the cheek. They may even want to hang out with you. But the next moment, just when you thought things were going well, you are suddenly not permitted to touch them, lest you receive the dreaded shrinking back drama-shoulder, the grimace, or the scrunched up nose. This is the essence of the push-pull. You are no longer calling the shots: you’re at their mercy.

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2. Later bedtimes.

When a baby is down for the night, you might not have even had dinner yet, and young kids are in bed well before you favourite new series starts. You have had that precious window – from 8pm – for years. You cherish it. But now? You have your Tween next to you, grunting, sniffing, wanting to hog the ottoman and watch The Simpsons, or Dance Moms, or Modern Family. Your Tween is encroaching onto your couch time! Pinot noir is noticeably less palatable to the tune of the The Simpsons theme song on repeat. And you’re not allowed to touch them.

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3. The tone.

The years of screeching “MUU-UUM!”s that you thought were behind you have returned, only louder, stronger; whingier. Tweens do not like doing things they can’t be bothered to do.  An innocent question like “don’t you think you should have a shower now hon?” can produce a howl, a scowl or a snap. It’s a jungle out there.

4. The new language.

Hearing small groups of tweens in the back of your car is unnerving. Totes, meh, bae, der, yo, cray, oh snap, jokes, not to mention the slew of acronyms they send each other on Kik. (NMJC – not much just chillin’, WUD – what you doin’? or IKR – I know, right?) They are forcing you to use emojis just to communicate with them via text. You don’t even understand your own messages anymore.

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5. You are not cool anymore.

This is the most difficult one of all. The one you never bargained for all those years ago. You are not cool anymore to your Tween. You are not always right. Tweens – and I’ll write this in a whisper so as not to alarm the parents of younger children – do not idolise you anymore. They can see your flaws. They might not even want to be… like you.

But look. Let’s not spoil it for the parents of young kids out there. Let’s agree and nod along with them when they say that they wished their darling would just give them a minute’s silence. They haven’t been given the tween silent treatment/ death-stare combo yet or had to resort to a strategic car trip just to have a conversation with their offspring. They don’t actually know how lucky they are.

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Parents – how do you handle the difficult tween years?

This is now where the heart of your tween lies …

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