Thinking about parenting a tween is an interesting concept and it’s made me think that in general us humans aren’t great fans of change, particularly change that is put upon us. Squillions of pounds have no doubt been spent in HR budgets figuring out how leaders manage their staff in times of change and uncertainty and yet parenting is one constant changing landscape with many, many uncertainties along the way.
The transition from infancy to toddlers is a big step - there's a clear shift in the need from us as parents. And the shift to school years is similar, in that sense. So the move to tween years is an interesting one for a parent, and one we need to get as accustomed to as they do. It's another shift, towards independence and responsibility.
It’s our role to teach them independence and truly the best way to do that is to let them do stuff themselves - and here’s the tough part - let them fail. Not only let them fail, but watch them fail. Whether it be sorting out friend issues, managing workload and pressure, managing their food intake and levels of exercise and therefore body shape, hygiene regime to fight off teenage acne or simply making themselves a cup of hot chocolate and toast with hummous.... we need to teach them, and then watch and hope.
One of my first visions was watching my son cut a pitta bread into soldiers and then putting the individual soldiers into the toaster!! But we cannot continue to do it all for them - they must grow and learn. So parenting a tween feels very far removed from early days parenting.... more a case of being a terribly patient teacher and coach, leading by example, laying down rules and routines with the ability to flex and adapt, being a proficient delegator, being resilient in the face of tough questioning (lovely 1-1 chat with son in the pool on holiday “so, mum when did you lose your virginity?”) ....and so it goes on.
And then of course there’s the future change - everyone says it but it feels a very sudden course to them growing up and leaving. At 16, I was starting to go on holiday with my friends and at 18, I left home. So I do the maths - 3 or 4 more years before my eldest learns to drive, no longer fancies family holidays and moves on.... eeeeek ...
It’s a good reminder though to live in the moment, enjoy the good times and try not to get too bogged down by the slamming doors and “attitude”.