Living with Tweens: Growing Pains

A major theme I’m finding raising tweens is just when I think I have this whole thing down, a curve ball is thrown my way. A mixture of emotions, hormones, change, and transitions produce an unpredictable environment. One day, we are all rainbows and unicorns, the next we are dodging hurtful comments and wiping away tears. No day is ever alike. If there is a common thread, it is talking. We talk a lot. Sometimes, these chats are productive, other times some of us just need to hear our hurt out loud. And, let me tell you, there is a lot of hurt.

    I think of these growing pains much the same as I do the growing pains they had when they were little. The nights lying by their bed, giving them medicine that did not work, while they squirmed in discomfort. Trying desperately to ease their pain, wipe their tears but then ending up in a pool of helplessness. The growing pains of tween hood are just as bad. There is a social aspect that is like navigating through the Bermuda Triangle. You know the waters are treacherous, but you’re blindingly steering, hoping to just get through this passage. However, you’re not the captain of the ship, your tween is. You are the trusty skipper, just waiting for some clue on how to move forward and occasionally offering advice. Then, there is the physical and emotional aspect which go hand in hand. Growth spurts not only rob your wallet, empty your food pantries, but they test your patience. Tweens almost revert back to toddlerhood, in the stage of needing a nap but refusing.  And, puberty. That is a separate post entirely.  I’m still helplessly sitting on their bed, just tending a different kind of growing pain.

    Just like when they were toddlers, the only choice was to watch them writhe in pain. It is the same scene now. I let them fall in to the pain, the struggle, the drama, the confusion. I tell them it sucks right now, it may for days, but it will get better. It is pure torture watching your child go through this stuff, however, I know from experience if they do not have the chance to wade in their strife, it will only multiply. Ignoring their pain–even when it may seem trivial, dramatic, ridiculous—only lets those feelings fester into something else. Avoiding these discussions teaches tweens to avoid the tough stuff. Of course, I want my kids to be happy all of the time, but I know these difficult moments build their character. It is not my job to make their life perfect. It is my job to teach them how to sit in the fire of tween emotions, but also how to rise from the ashes of this tumultuous time.

Image by Richard Brockton

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