I don’t have a teen and I don’t have a tween so you might be wondering why I’m writing a piece for this teen/tween themed newsletter. Well, what I do have is a seven year old daughter who is fast heading towards the tween stage so I thought I would share my fear of this approaching cosmic shakedown with you.
To be clear a “tween” is a child between the ages of 10 and 12. It is a term usually applied to girls who are (as Wikipedia describes it) ‘too old for toys and too young for boys’.
So how do I feel about parenting a tween? Honestly, I’m absolutely dreading it. I’m trying hard to strike a balance between stopping my child growing up too quick and being realistic about the times we live in. As important as it is to give them the chance to have a childhood I think it’s equally important not to set them apart from others by being too obsessive about it. Currently it’s not too hard, I am the primary influence in my daughters’ life and she operates under my values and behaviour system but as friends, peer pressure and societal influences take a hold I think it is going to become much more difficult.
A few weeks ago an eight year old boy described my seven year old daughter as sexy. Horrifying right? However, this little boy is a child whose family I know. He’s a nice kid and what he really meant to say was she looked pretty but the word that he chose was one he’d heard in a song played on the radio. A great example of how easy it is for outside influences to take a hold.
At seven there is a growing interest in 1Direction and Olly Murs but this is tempered by still playing with Barbies, what happens when the Barbies get dropped and she wants to start watching music videos with girls in hot pants gyrating to almost every song? It’s hard to remember but I’m sure I was still playing with Barbies at eleven and I don’t recall music videos being anywhere near as offensive or inappropriate as they are now.
Safety is another issue. Right now my daughter is happy to be with me or another adult all the time but she will start to want more freedom and the thought of allowing that is really frightening. When should she be allowed to walk home from school or to her friend’s house. I’m comfortable with 15 but I don’t think she will be. There is also online safety to worry about, currently she never uses the internet unsupervised but as her technical knowledge will probably surpass mine quite early on how do I manage that.
And clothes, although she is very clear on what she wants to wear already she is very willing to accede when I deem something to be unsuitable for her age, will this continue or will shopping become a nightmare? And when do ears get pierced? I was 12 but half her class already have them done and she’s starting to nag me about it.
And then will come Harry Potter, iCarly and Victorious on TV along with the most worrying one of all, Hannah Montana. That sweet little tween that was is now twerking and smoking dope on global TV. A great example of how sweet can turn sour in a few short years.
There are so many aspects of this development phase that scare me. I’ll probably feel the same as the teen years approach but right now the tweens is what I’m facing. Strangely I don’t feel the same fear for my younger son, I don’t know if this is a personality or a gender thing or maybe that by the time he gets there I’ll be into the teenage years with my daughter and the tweens will seem like a walk in the park.
So how will I handle it? At this point I don’t know. I think I’ll just have to wait and see and hope that the values, belief and behaviour already established will help us all make good decisions and stay happy and connected as a family.