I met with some middle school students who eagerly agreed that their parents love and care about them profoundly. Confidently they rely on you for everything they need. They have the following suggestions, observations, and even an invitation.

  • When we argue, it’s important that you hear me out.
  • I want to have a say in solving my problems. I don’t particularly appreciate being ordered around or bossed. I have good ideas.
  • Privacy is important. Just cuz I’m keeping my door shut doesn’t mean I’m hiding anything. It makes me feel that you don’t trust me when you go through my things. I need alone time.
  • I’d rather talk about what happened when I make poor choices and not lose privileges. Punishing me isn’t helpful.
  • Sometimes when you share stories of you being a kid, it sounds a lot like a lecture. You can probably tell I’m not always listening.
  • When you yell at me or talk over me, it makes me want to scream back or escape. It hurts my feelings, too.
  • Mostly you come to my room with a plan. You don’t stop by to say hi, but you could.
  • When I’m talking, I’d like you to listen and not interrupt. I want to be heard. My friends listen and don’t judge me.
  • Let me find my own path – don’t force me into things like a sport, lessons, or club that will turn into a battle between us because they are not for me. That includes my hairstyle.
  • Measure all of me, not just school and grades – I’m learning lots. Let me stay in my sport or club even if I’m not getting the best grades.
  • Please don’t say I love you, but. But your grades need to be better. But you’re not doing your chores. But your room is always a mess.
  • I don’t mind hearing good stuff about me. And I like it when we do things together.

Tweens follow the law of nature striving to be independent and autonomous. They don’t yet have your brain power and insight. As such, they depend on your support, wisdom, and grace as they master the tasks of adolescence.

JoAnn Schauf is founder of Your Tween and You.

Follow Chris Roark on Twitter!


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