I enjoy the company of my two nieces; while one is just two, the other is almost 9 now, an age that has made her mom a bundle of nerves. The “tweens” as these years between 8 and 13 are called, has replaced the teens of a few decades ago. Parents of teenagers were in a constant state of anxiety, wondering how to get them through these troubled years without too big a problem. Today, parents have to begin to worry a few years earlier, when their kids are in their tweens.
As far as I can judge, my niece is a well-adjusted child, even though she does throw the occasional tantrum that has mom and daughter up in arms against each other. But in a year or so, the tiffs between the two are going to get worse, over issues like makeup, clothes, and yes, boys. It’s one of life’s pleasures when you’re blessed with a baby girl, but someone ought to ask God to help the moms magically get through the rough tween and teen years.
Television and shows like Hannah Montana and High School Musical are not doing too much to help either. In fact, they’re in a way responsible for inducing young girls to go in for spray tans, facials, highlights, massages and other beauty treatments at beauty salons. Besides this, there’s the pressure from peers that makes all young girls want to look as grownup as possible (little do they realize that in a decade or so, they’re going to be spending all their time trying to look as young as possible).
The problems parents face as their little girls grow up have a lot to do with the way a woman’s body and physiology are designed. They undergo both physical and emotional changes, and combined with the plethora of “cool” things that are suddenly accessible (like makeup, grownup clothes, boys, and in worst cases, drugs and alcohol), they pack quite a punch for a young mind. It’s hard to remain rational and mature when all your friends are doing it. It’s hard not to succumb to peer pressure and refuse to go along with your friends, not when you’re trying to fit in and be popular.
Parents have to deal with these sensitive issues in a way that’s mature and patient. Very often, they have to draw the line somewhere and put down some ground rules, something that’s extremely hard to do when your daughter is in a rebellious phase. They also have to talk about sex with their daughters – it’s best they learn about it from you because they’ll be able to come to you with any questions they may have as the years go by.
It’s tough, but close-knit families with a sense of values manage to make it through these turbulent times. And they do it by being there for their daughters even if things go horribly wrong; they do it being supportive and not saying “I told you so”; they do it by understanding their children even when they err.
That is the key to getting through the “growing up” years, especially when you have a daughter – understanding and patience.
This article is written by Kat Sanders. She welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.