There are times that I try to connect with my tween, but her headspace is somewhere on a planet far, far away. She’s not interested in engaging with someone in the same room, let alone her *insert dramatic eye roll* mother!
And do you know what I do? I leave her be.
Sometimes she needs the room to breath, the room to get her head around her own feelings and the space to reconcile the emotions coursing through her hormonal little body. Can you remember what it was like to feel as if you needed to escape your own skin? I certainly can, and I try to take myself back to that time in order to help my tween.
It’s so important to give your children the space to grow and embrace the changes that are going on in their lives when they need it.
Sometimes she will spend an entire Saturday morning watching youtube videos of seemingly random teens doing seemingly random acts of craziness. Other times she’ll immerse herself in a book and I won’t see her surface until meal times. Other times she’ll crave our company and will crawl back into the warm embrace of her little family, because she knows we’ll always be here, waiting.
It was incredibly hard the first time I noticed that my daughter wasn’t coming to me with her woes. I had always been her sounding board and all of a sudden she had other outlets, other fonts of wisdom (scoff) and other ways to deal with her issues.
All I wanted was to go back to a time when I was the problem solver for my girl. A time when I advised and guided her through the minefield of friendships and a difficult schoolyard experience.
Then I remembered reading an interview with Dr Michael Carr Gregg who said: “This generation of parents just push all the obstacles out of the way and try to make life as simple and as easy as possible for their kids.” He was referring to a generation of snowplough parents: those parents who are time-poor and over-compensate with gadgets and pushing all the barriers out of the way for their coddled child.
The consequence is a generation of kids who never learn to deal with things on their own .
Referring back to that article, I think about the ways I can step back and just give my tween space. It’s vital that she learns to handle her emotions in her own way. Of course my motherly instinct is to smooth the path ahead of her and make it as easy as possible – but does that really help her in the long term?
Of course it doesn’t!
Dr Michael Carr-Gregg has some simple ways that we as parents can give our tweens some space and some responsibility:
- Never do for your children what they can do for themselves
- Put your child on a bus/bike or public transport to get to school
- Give your tween regular chores and have consequences for when they’re not done
- Implement and enforce strict rules around technology: saying something and doing something else does not teach them boundaries
- Teach your tweens to wash and iron their own clothes – NO, they are not too young!
- Have your children clean their own room
- Get your tween to help you cook, and teach them lifelong skills
- Make sure they get enough sleep – this may seem like common sense, but one thing I’ve learn recently is that common sense is not so common!
Do you have any ways that you can add to this list? Ways in which we can all help our children to grow and learn on their own?