BP is 12 years old, next year he will be a teenager. Ever since he turned 10 things have been slowly changing for us and in his tween stage he has become more independent. This is partly due to having to start Secondary School and partly because, well, that's what happens.
This stage of parenting is tough, you have to watch as your child, who once clung to you for security, now ventures out into the big, wide world without you. He/she begins expressing his/her own opinions, voicing problems or worries, and makes mistakes. And all the time there's not a lot you can do about it.
Tween independence is not only a learning experience for the tween but for the parent too. As BP steps into the world and begins his long journey to adulthood I'm learning along the way. I've found it hard to cope with some issues and others have been a breeze. Here are my thoughts...
If I ask BP to do something he'll want to know why. He doesn't think it's fair that I make him do chores. He doesn't like it when he is punished for doing something wrong. From ignoring rules to wanting an explanation he is always asking "why?".
For a tween answering "because." is not an option, they will just keep asking. I've had to explain to BP that he has chores to teach him about keeping things tidy, I've had to tell him that he did something wrong and he needs to face consequences for that. It's all about explanations and while it may not always help you are teaching them, and that's all you can do.
Everything is a secret. If BP goes out he doesn't like to tell me where he is going, he doesn't like to tell me about his friends, he doesn't like talking about much at all. He has friends, I know that at least, and he talks to them often but I'm not allowed in that circle.
It is difficult to talk to tweens about their secrets without asking them what the secret is. Difficult, not impossible. So far we've had two instances where we had to talk to BP about secrets; one around Valentine's Day this year, and the other was about sex videos. At the time I dealt with the Valentine's Day one and the Hubby the other, all the time keeping BP's secrets.
Realising their secrets are just as important to them as yours are to you makes a huge difference.
I have no idea if it's just boys, but BP is terrible for remembering to keep clean. From changing underwear to using deodorant, I have to remind him about it all. The problem is he thinks I'm wrong. As far as he is concerned it is his body and I have no right to tell him how to look after it.
Explaining the reasons behind having good hygiene may or may not help, this is an issue I continue to battle with, but battle I will.
At this age hormones rage through their bodies, they are changing, their friends are changing, and it's all just a little bit too much.
On many occasions BP has burst into tears for no apparent reason, it could be that we mentioned he hadn't cleaned his room, it could be an argument about chores (again) but the tears flow often. He cannot control the emotions he is feeling and he lets it out by crying. This is when he'll head into his bedroom, close the door, and try to be alone.
After letting him calm down I, or the Hubby, will go and talk to BP. While the hormones heighten his emotions we cannot let him lock himself away. Talking about the issues is how to deal with them.
Some tweens may use anger, some tears, but it is all the hormones messing with their bodies.
Though it might be hard to take a step back during an argument if you take a moment to do so you may realise that using different language or trying a different tactic could change the situation. Explaining, with a calm voice, may alter the outcome for both of you.
The first time round is a surprising journey and you begin to appreciate what your parents did for you. As long as you're there for your tween they will eventually see what you did. It'll just take 20 years!