‘Tween Parenting 101

In my book, Meanie Bea’ (there’s that title again), Beatrice’s parents are positive forces in her life.  That was on purpose.  In my thirty-five years of teaching, I can honestly say that most parents I have been acquainted with have tried to be good parents.  There are always some that don’t quite make the mark, but that’s true of any occupation.  I say “occupation” because being a parent is a full time job that never ends even when your child becomes an adult. Ask any grandma.

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One of our most favorite photos of the girls. 🙂

As a parent of two grown girls (who are wonderful human beings), I can honestly say that I am a good parent. I was as traditional as I  could be. That was on purpose! I volunteered at school, served as Girl Scout leader for two troops, several times I directed the Christmas pageant for church,  chaperoned on band busses, etc.  I sat through countless piano, choir and band recitals, quizzed spelling words over the breakfast table, helped with History Day projects, Civil War Days and tried to teach them to drive (my husband was better at that). We went camping, fishing, kite flying, made mud pies, jumped rope and read many books together.  I can even brag that I found the first Harry Potter book at the library before it was popular. You name it, I did it (and so did my husband—let’s not forget him).

I lived through tears, anxiety and sleepless nights…………and I would do it all over again.

People have complimented and congratulated us on the raising of our daughters. They have wondered what the secret is to raising successful children.  I don’t know about other people, but I have a few suggestions for anyone who might want to hear (and maybe some you don’t):

Be present in your child’s life even if they push you away.  IGNORE THEM WHEN THEY SAY TO GO AWAY. They don’t really mean it. Stay in the background and around them–other kids begin to see how great it is to have you available and pretty soon every kids wants to know you.

Teach your child responsibility, resilience, respect, compassion and love.  If they experience you hugging on them, guess what? Someday they will do the same for their children.

Model patience even if you are about to blow up on the inside.  This is one I really had to work at–patience doesn’t come easy for me.

Teach self respect and self discipline to your children.  It is so important that they learn to be comfortable with their authentic self.  In addition, I beg you to teach them self discipline.  A child of seven years of age does not have the life experiences to decide for themselves about quitting piano lessons or when they should go to bed at night.  If you model these two attributes, I promise your life will be less stressful.  Notice I didn’t say easy.  It is never easy raising any child.  Beware of the parent that says, “Oh, he’s such an easy child.”  Really?  Maybe the parent isn’t really paying attention to her child’s true behavior.

When my girls were disciplined at school by their teachers, I rarely stepped in or meddled in the siuation.  It was especially difficult when they had a teacher who was a friend of mine or my husband’s. We are both educators.  We know how parents can be with teachers sometimes–not very nice and not very supportive.  Please give your child’s teacher the benefit of the doubt and trust that you might not be getting the entire story from your child about what occurred. Give the child and teacher time to sort things out.  Chances are that, in time, the student and teacher’s relationship will work out for the best.

Remember, it is completely okay to say “no” to your child.  They don’t need every toy, game, and latest cell phone.  You aren’t to be their best friend.  You are to be their parent.  Later, when they are adults (or probably much sooner), their respect for you will lead to a lasting friendship.  Our daughters are two of my best friends.

Lastly, allow them to see you cry, be disappointed and make mistakes.  We all make mistakes every day. For instance, I just baked a lemon meringue pie and the silly meringue shrunk and fell flat. Oh well.  When I direct a youth theater production, one of the first things I tell my kids is that they will make mistakes.  I remind them, “Barring Armagaeddon tomorrow, the sun will rise, we’ll have oxygen to breathe and we’ll all try again. ” I’m a big fan of laughing at myself and I do my best not to take myself too seriously.

Beatrice’s father is a great example of a successful person.  He is funny, smart, loving and tuned in to his kids without lauding things upon them.  Her mother is the same way.   She allows Beatrice to make mistakes and learn from them, but she keeps a watchful eye on her and her brother, Edmund.

Now, before you stop reading this blog let me tell you something.  Our daughters had challenges (physical and emotional) that they had to deal with just like most young people.  They weren’t perfect by any means.  They just kept trying and so did we.  And that’s about all any of us can do, you know?

Next time, let’s talk about the social pressures of being a ‘tween. This is a biggie for everyone.

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