Finding ways to connect with your tween when puberty emotions are running high and your fuse is running low makes it easy to get off track with the relationship we want to have with them.
No one wants conflict and it seems like everything you say causes one. The eye rolls🙄 and the attitude starts and it just seems easier to keep quiet.
You put it off to let things cool down and it can get hard to pick up the ball again. Wait one more day, and pretty soon a week has gone by. In the days of silence or at least tolerance of each other, we don’t want to rock the boat again.
We long for the days when they used to tell us everything that happened in their day, every mind-numbing story droning on about Minecraft or Fortnite
But soon the silence is deafening, they are staring at their tablets or phones.
Whispering and sharing memes with their friends we don’t even understand and we are left out.
And while you marvel at the person they are becoming, it’s a bittersweet reminder that your tween is growing up.
We thought that the infant age of no sleep and the toddler years of no breaks was difficult and they so desperately needed you that they followed you to the bathroom and into your bed for what felt like an eternity of countless needs.
But these tween years and the teen ones to come are by far the hardest.
They pretend not to need you to help them with your wisdom of fashion and advice. Yet they need you so much more than they realize than even you realize.
This world of swirling emotions and topsy-turvy friendships. Of navigating mean girls and just as scary, nice boys. They barely wave to you as they rush to the bus and are dropped off at the birthday parties.
They used to be thrilled to see you when the school day was over and now they are embarrassed if you park too close to the school. Heaven forbid, come inside to pick them up from the dance.
The days of your phone filled with 400 photos of close-ups of the inside of their mouth are now selfies of faces that have practice glamour shots of artfully applied eyeshadow and mascara that rival any smokey eye that you could even imagine let alone execute at 47 let alone 12.
And the attitude, oh the attitude that you are sure would have gotten you killed or at the very least grounded by your mother maybe even still now, is flying from her mouth and you are dumbfounded. What happened to my teeny tiny sweet little girl?
Well, she’s still teeny, but oh my god. I spend more and more time thinking how will I ever make it through the next 6 years! But I can’t drop that ball.
So how to connect with your tween again?
Find some common ground with your tween.
Find something, anything that you can enjoy together.
Maybe it’s sharing funny memes or a tv show. I seriously watched all the Miranda Sings, Haters Back Off shows with my daughter.
Is it something I would have watched on my own? Uh no.
But you never know. We laughed together and she got to see I was willing to let her choose.
We recently finished binge-watching Pretty Little Liars. I honestly didn’t think I would like it since it was for teens. And I was surprised to find I loved it. It was something just for the two of us.
With my oldest son, it was The Walking Dead that became “our thing.”
Maybe it’s music, our friend has taken his daughter to see Red Hot Chili Peppers and PRIMUS. I honestly don’t even know who PRIMUS is, LOL. But it’s their shared love of music that brings them closer.
With their tastes changing it may take a few tries to find something that you both can enjoy. Be glad it’s no longer Caillou.
1 – 1 Date with your tween
That new common ground or interest you’ve always shared can turn into great 1-1 dates. Take a cooking class together. Many community colleges or vocational schools offer adult/child classes.
Learn a new skill like baking from scratch. Maybe it’s mani-pedi’s, roller-skating or running.
Make a weekly movie date or have a standing breakfast date once a month. Just make it yours and their’s alone.
I find this especially important if you have more than one kid. My youngest son, who is 10, tells me he still misses our “Mommy Mondays”. That’s what we called it when he still had Mondays off from preschool and the others were in school every day.
If you’re really struggling to carve out time with them due to finances or schedules…making them your assistant in the kitchen for a night or a whole week and rotate for each kid is a great bonding experience as well as a way to introduce or up their cooking skills.
Who knows you might have a budding chef or at the very least have kids who can take on a night of cooking to help you out. Our 10 year old has become quite good and is more than willing to take over my least favorite chore… “what’s for dinner?”
Journaling with your tween
Diaries are great since everyone has a right to their own private thoughts. But a shared journal can offer a whole new way to communicate.
This can open up conversations both of you may be struggling with. New and challenging changes to their world can be confusing and scary. But they can also be embarrassing to bring up. And not just for them.
And it’s so easy to start.
All you need is a notebook, a pen, and an open mind. Jump in. Be first. Write them a little note and leave it where they’re sure to find it, like on their pillow. Think back to the days when you were a pen pal with your best friend and sign it with “write back“. Have fun!
It may take a bit of encouragement. You might get some eye-rolling,🙄 but give it a try. You never know what they’ll tell you. If this seems intimidating, try one of these that have some built-in prompts already.
This is what it really all boils down to. Keep those lines of communication open. You might not see it today or even tomorrow, but when they feel safe and you least expect it, they’ll be looking for you when they need that advice on mean girls, or cute boys or 😱 maybe even makeup.
I’d like to hear what works for you to keep that connection with your tween or teen? Comment below!