Tween Parenting : Letting Them Tell Their Own Story

I’ve been a blogger now for almost ten years. Scary. I started when my eldest was two and now she is approaching thirteen, her sister close behind headed to eleven. When the girls were little, blogging was an avenue of creative exploration and written release. Motherhood was not an easy start with a colicky baby and nineteen months later another baby. I was suffocating under the weight of raising two under two. Blogging was my release, my escape, my respite from diapers and domesticity. In the beginning, I wrote specifically about motherhood but began to branch out into wider subjects. Motherhood became a side note to my writing. It informed it and it altered it sometimes, but I found myself outside of motherhood in the words of my blog. I shared my struggles not only as a mother, but as a human. One day when I slogging through potty training, I posted a picture of my daughter on the potty singing. I never actually posted it because something inside my body understood something I was slow to grasp. Did I have the right to post this picture of her? Yes, I was her mother but would she really want this picture out there in the world when she was eleven or thirty? Probably not. In that moment, it made me think about the difference of me growing up without social media and my kids who know exactly how to smile or pose for a picture because pictures are the way we document things. Listen, I’m not on any kind of high horse here. I post pictures of my kids all the time, however, I’ve learned to ask them before doing so. It is not my job to tell their stories, it is their job.

When my eldest daughter graduated elementary school, her gift was a phone. The first thing she asked for was Instagram. This daughter of mine has big dreams of being a photographer and like myself, gets lost in the magic of photos. I agreed. I quickly realized I handed over the power, pleasure, and pain of social media. My younger daughter, quickly asked for Instagram as well. It was not longer okay for me to put them out to the world, as they were telling their own story. When one of  my daughter’s painting was displayed at City Hall, it was not my job to celebrate that, as much as I wanted to, because she did not want that out there. She wasn’t embarrassed by any means, but just didn’t understand why everyone needed to know that. Rather than taking a picture of one painting, she decided to create a second Instagram account, dedicated solely to her art.

I’m not going to lie, this transition, like all of these tween transitions, is hard.  Letting go of control, whether something small or big, is difficult. Handing that control over to tweens is even harder. I’m always riding on blind faith and hope in the unseen. What is harder though, is to deny them the right to tell their own story. This stage of motherhood is about give and take. I’m giving them the opportunity to explore, fail, and succeed and they are taking it. They are not only taking it, but they are telling the world who they are and I could not be more proud of the intelligent, compassionate, driven, and creative souls they’ve become. The more I give, the more they show me that they can take whatever comes their way. Giving them independence and autonomy is a loud message that I trust them completely. I’m a firm believer if I let them test out their wings now, they’ll be ready to fly when the time comes.

3 Responses

  • An excellent post, showing the thought that goes on behind the scenes as we write about our daily lives, and the lives of our family. My daughter is such an extrovert, she’s usually asking me to post pictures and write about her. You’re right – it’s a different world they’re growing up in. We’ve focused a lot on making sure we’re communicating with her about the big picture of social media. The responsibility that goes with it. How you never really delete anything once it’s out there. Etc. Living this post with you.

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