Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Parenting Preteens: What I Wish I'd Known

When you first become a mom everyone tells you to enjoy it, it goes fast. You nod and smile truly not fully understanding what they mean.

They also tell you "remember the days are long but the years are short". At the moment, you feel like you'll never be done with diapers, bottles and middle of the night wakings.

As they enter elementary school, you watch as they develop their little personalities and you sit back proud of all their accomplishments. Honestly this is truly a sweet spot of parenting.

The preteen years come out of no where. The slight change in their attitude. The need for more independence. The want of some privacy. It's like all of a sudden someone stole your little baby.

Since I have what I like to call 2 families, I have the benefit of being able to look back at this stage and how I parented my older 2. I get to reflect on how those strategies worked. I feel blessed to get to fix some of those mistakes, but I'm sure I'll be making some new ones.

There are some things I wish I'd known and I only realized them now raising my second set of kids.

Books DO NOT have the answers
Most author's, even PhDs, can only write from a theory stand point. They can only tell you their theory based on their experience with their child or from a study done with a select group of children. No two children are the same and not one strategy will work for all children. I read ALOT of books looking for answers. I actually threw a couple away because I was like these are garbage.

The best resource that I have found to help me with parenting at any age is the Bible. It didn't offer me steps to parent my child or offer the correct words to say, but it did offer me encouragement and wisdom when I needed it the most. Parenting will rub spots on you that you didn't even know existed. By going to the creator to gain wisdom and knowledge it draws me closer to God and helps me to show his love to my family.

Preteens are toddlers with words
My second set of children are 2 girls, they are 10 and 2. The other day I was reading a meme to my older daughter of things that had made a toddler have a meltdown. We were truly rolling. On the list were things like: my cracker broke, I want the dog to drive me to school, and my favorite the bathtub is too wet.

A couple of days later my oldest daughter was having a moment. Afterwards we were talking and she admitted that she was in a bad mood but didn't know why. I explained to her some things and then used the toddler meltdown meme as an example.

Sometimes there isn't an explanation to their actions and reasoning with them is useless. You just have to give them time to meltdown and regroup.

Preteens are just little people
Children have no choice but to go with the flow. Adults make the rules and get to call all of the shots. Children just have to grin and bare it.

Teenagers are viewed as early young adults and given more freedom and allowed to take on more responsibilities.

Preteens are in between being children and teens, so they are in a limbo of sorts. We still think of them as our little boy or girl but the truth is that inside their bodies are getting ready for a huge physical change.

Instead of joining the crazy train and fighting the emotional changes that are happening, stop and look at what is really happening. They are still your little boy or girl, they are just going through changes that they don't understand. Take time to stop and think of how you felt during this time. If you can't remember, then ask yourself how you would like to be treated.

Our job is to model unconditional love in all situations regardless of hormones from us or from them.

Age is just a number
When I was teaching I had a log for parent phone calls. In this log I wrote the date and what the conversation was about. On one particular occasion I had called a parent 3 times over the last 3 months, literally around the exact same dates. Coincidence? Maybe but I don't think so. This little girl was barely 8 years old and when I noticed the dates I mentioned it to her mom. Her mom's words were, but she's only 8. Yes, I was shocked as well.

I noticed some things with my own children and started keeping track of the dates as well and sure enough it was a monthly thing. Nothing was developing on the outside, but it was a sign to me that things were brewing on the inside.

Science will try to tell us dates that changes should start happening but a parent knows and can tell when things are different.

Emotions run high in both genders
My boys had very different personalities. When they started going through the preteen stuff one became almost angry and had outbursts and the other became introverted and shut off. Neither change was easy. I didn't realize at the time what was happening was hormonal changes. I thought it was just middle school stuff. Wow I was so naive! But we survived and lived to talk about it.

This time around I have 2 girls. I've noticed some changes in my older daughter. I will say that since I've lived through it, I feel like I can understand what she is going through easier and I can explain to her what she's feeling. It doesn't make the conversations or her tone any easier but it does help me to be able to stop and realize what is happening is not about me.

It's not about me
This was the toughest one for me to figure out. I remember as a preteen changing and freaking out about nothing. It always escalated into an argument over nothing and I ended up grounded.

As a mom, we carry these little darlings for 9 months. They are alive because we sacrificed countless sleepless nights feeding them and nurturing them. We love them and can't imagine anything but our sweet little child. When their personality starts changing and they are maybe a little short with us we get offended and change back towards them.

Their attitude change isn't about you. It isn't about them not liking you. It's about them entering an entire new phase that they know nothing about. If you're not sure what I mean go back and read about preteens and toddlers.  Also, if you need to, think of your monthly cycle. How do you act? Do you get set off easily? They are probably feeling the same way. Preteens are irrational sometimes. But remember it's not about you.

During the preteen years is the time to remember the saying "the days are long but the years are short". It will pass and when you come out on the other side what do you want your relationship to look like. Be patient and be the parent that God called you to be for them. Model Jesus grace and love for them.

I'm only preaching to the choir here by the way. Remember me two girls 10 and 2. Goodness, pray for me!

I'm praying for you!


  1. Your comment, "the days are long but the years are short" reminds of advice that my grandma gave me when I had a baby and three toddlers. I was struggling with lack of sleep and trying to function during the days. Great article!

    1. Thank you! Yes that is great advice when you have littles. I had to remind myself of it when I had moody preteens and then teens. Now I have a 24 and a 20 year old and I miss SOME of those long days.

  2. Such good advice and information. My children are now past their preteen years, but articles like these helped me through. Learning that 'it's not about me' was key for making it through.

    1. Thank you! It's funny how my poor oldest son was my guinea pig. I didn't have a clue and honestly I still don't, but it's not about me doesn't change regardless of which kid I'm raising.

  3. Such great advice! I have three preteens right now and a teenager. I definitely read a lot less parenting books now than when they were itty bitty. I just try to take each situation as it comes and keep in mind that I want to develop their character. That's the main thing.

    1. I noticed that the blogs are geared towards new moms and toddlers, I guess preteens are pretty scary or we're all lost. Either way taking it situation by situation is all you can do. Wishing you luck!