Taking a less is more approach to raising five kids helped us all enjoy the transition from childhood to tweenhood to young adulthood (ages 18 – 23 living on their own or at college).
I came up with some simple rules that guided us on our journey and supported each of them as unique individuals discovering their place in the world. These rules also translated well to the tens of thousands of parents who I have worked with over the past twenty years as a parent expert and coach.
- Stop worrying about how your tweens express themselves in terms of their personal style (this includes their wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup, music and friends). Learn to notice character traits and strengths that define your tween as a unique human being. What you might find troublesome now, will develop into a sense of personal power later on. Embrace this time of self-discovery and adventure. This is the time that your tweens can discover what it means when someone says, “be yourself.”
- Likewise, ignore parents who give you the hairy eyeball when your tween experiments with clothes, hair, makeup, music, attitude and values. Let those around you know you are raising a thinking child and giving him/her room to develop self-confidence and independence.
- Ignore strangers at the mall, grocery store and restaurants who give you the hairy eye-ball because your tween is lost in their own world, giving you the cold shoulder or looking apathetic when everyone around them looks thrilled to be doing whatever it is they are doing. Learn to wait quietly as your tweens navigate their own feelings and find their own way of re-engaging. Adolescence is a tough phase and moments of withdrawal are necessary from time to time.