We all know it’s coming…you know what I’m talking about! That age and stage known as the “tweens” when our children are not little kids anymore, but have yet to reach the coveted position of a teenager in their own minds. They are at that stage when they can be very conflicted about letting go of all the “little kid” loves that used to keep them happy and entertained, and grabbing hold of all the teen responsibilities and challenges that come with the territory of being older.
We have spent years watching them “be little”, playing games with them, cuddling with them for bedtime stories, taking pleasure in outings to the zoo or aquarium and answering millions of questions that evidence the expansion of their inquisitive minds and the growth of their world. The questions have gone from silly with no answers to thoughtful and challenging for us as parents. It’s when we start needing to look up the answers to their questions that we know they are on the brink of becoming teenagers!
However, it is interesting how each child is unique and starts to push his/her boundaries at differing ages. Some would just as soon stay in the warm embrace of mom, while others soon request that they just get dropped off at the mall to shop with friends, rather than being caught in the “grocery getter” with their mother! Boys can be especially self-conscious of being seen with their moms because we found that the pecking order for guys in middle school was stiff competition and anything that could be used against a littler guy was grabbed up and flung around in an attempt to appear “badder and bigger”!
This is the interesting stage when our boys will stop showing their love for us publicly. It can come as quite a shock, especially if you happen to be blessed with an outwardly affectionate son. It will feel like someone has abducted the boy that used to hug you, cuddle on your lap in front of the TV, proclaim you were the “bestest mommy ever”, express his intention to marry you when he gets older, and draw pictures of the two of you spending time together, hand in hand. It will break your heart…but here’s the good news! He will still let you love him occasionally when no one is watching and he’ll always love you, even when he can’t bring himself to show it, because he has gotten too big!
Girls (and I speak from my own personal experience growing up) are slightly different when it comes to their moms. We all went through stages where we considered our moms “not cool”, and definitely “not with it”! We also didn’t want to be hanging out with them much. That was okay, because as moms, our own mother’s generation wasn’t striving to be our best friends! Incidentally- neither should we! They have friends. And we have to be “The Mom”. Remember that these tween years are the years when our roles, as moms, need to be that of leadership, not friendship! The hopeful news with daughters is that, if you have done your best at parenting them and drawing boundaries to keep them safe, and instilling in them self-respect and confidence…then someday, when they are mothers themselves, they will seek your advice and support, and your relationship will be a beautiful thing as they understand what it is to be a mom and eventually come to appreciate all you did for them! Hang tough~ it is definitely worth it to guide, discipline, and love unconditionally with that day in mind!
Do you have boys? Girls? Both? How do they differ? What are you looking forward to in the middle school years? How about the high school years? Can you draw the boundaries on being your child’s friend, and see that you will earn that relationship by being the mom as they are growing up? How can you start to do that now? Please leave a comment and start a conversation!
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