3 Top Tips For Parenting Tween Girls
Yesterday I came across this picture of my daughters…
I couldn’t believe that it was taken four years ago! I still remember being in the pediatrician’s office with them that day and feeling like it was the BEST break ever, because I thought they were so old and we had gotten to leave our two little boys at home with a sitter. For the record, the girls were six, seven, and eight in this picture—and I thought they were soooo grown.
Also for the record, at that point in our lives I felt like I was winning at being a girl mom. Having daughters was my JAM; I loved helping them play dress up and talking about their feelings all day. I read them Bible stories and talked about age-appropriate “hard things” like dating before marriage and periods. And they loved to chit chat about these topics as though they weren’t hard at all, and I thought I’ve really done it. I’ve cracked the code of how to have a close relationship with my daughters as they get older; we are never going to have the “I-hate-my-mom” phase or worse yet the “My-mom-is-so-dumb-and-embarrassing” phase. I was living the girl-mom dream!
And then. Like a thief in the night, it happened: they became tweens. Almost all of them at one time, no less. And with their transition into tween-hood came sleepovers and cell phones and after school activities. It happened so quickly I almost didn’t notice…until one day when I did.
I realized I was suddenly in the kitchen alone, with no girls in the stools at the island telling me every word of today’s school drama. Nobody was fighting over who got to make dinner with me, and the only way I even knew they were home was because I picked them up from school and physically brought them to our house. Otherwise, there was no sign of them because they would just disappear upstairs.
It took me a little while to adjust, but now I’m learning. So I wanted to share the top tips I have finally wrapped my brain around when it comes to navigating this new world of tween girls…
1. Pursue them even though they act like they don’t want you to. If for no other reason, then because it’s the story you will want to tell in 20 years. I would much rather be able to say that I kept trudging up the stairs to check on their day or ask them to come sit with me while I make dinner, than to just let it go and regret it later. When I told my oldest daughter that I had been overthinking whether or not to ask her to come downstairs and spend time with me, she very simply (and wisely) replied “Well I always like being asked.” And then it hit me; they’re not attached to my hip anymore because they don’t need me, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to be around me. If they don’t pursue me, I need to pursue time with them.
2. Tell them lots of stories about when they were little. Even right now, when my girls are at the peak of being completely disinterested in most things I have to say, I have retained at least some credibility because I was there when they were born and then almost every single day afterwards. I still get to be the expert on how they related to each other as babies and toddlers, and they are surprisingly VERY interested in those conversations. They ask me to recount all the funny stories about either themselves or their sisters, and then they chime in and help me finish. One of my daughters cried constantly until she was—maybe—three? And even she thinks those stories we tell about her being so grumpy are hilarious now! The point is, you don’t get to be the expert at much anymore, but you’re still the expert at what they love to hear about most: themselves.
3. Have the hard conversations and keep an open mind. We never want to have these conversations, because we just don’t want them to grow up! But as much as we don’t want to have them, they do—but only for a time. Early on, they are curious about bras. Even though they don’t need them, they want a training bra and we’re like “NO! You will have to wear a bra until forever…enjoy being little while you can!” Well friend, I’ve learned that we should just buy them the training bras when they’re little, because then it’s not awkward when they’re older and wearing a white t-shirt and we suddenly see that they need to be wearing that bra! Similarly, we just need to put the “monthly supplies” in their backpacks a full two years before we think they’ll need it (obviously in a discreet spot because horrors upon horrors if any of their friends see it). Or when we notice that they don’t want us to be looking at their phone, and we have all the angst about whether or not to “violate their privacy”, we should ask to do a phone check. Yes, it might blow up at first, but the authentic conversations that ensue are priceless. No matter what she says or shows with her rolling eyes and heavy sighs, she wants your authority and your wisdom about how to navigate through tween social issues. In fact, it’s our responsibility as moms to make sure that our tween girls have actually not much privacy at all when it comes to matters such as social media and texting. Privacy is a privilege that’s earned through much honesty and a proven track record of good decision making—something that is almost non-existent with tween girls. And if you’re on the fence about it, and she’s asking for privacy; go ahead and bet that you need to say no and read all her texts, even though they probably don’t say anything.
Here’s some good news for all of us moms…your tween girl(s) might be the very person (or people) God has brought into your life to help you stop all the people pleasing. Because the reality is that they are often going to be displeased with you during their tween years. I used to think that was a lie from Satan; now I know it’s a sanctifying gift from the Lord. It is practice upon practice for learning to only please Him.
Having daughters is such a gift. I’m so thankful for them, and even when they’re in a particularly tween-ish season, all three of them are my people—those people you yearn for and know deeply and who know and love you in return.
This new season is just as much a gift, too. I’m thankful for the ability to watch chick flicks and do facial masks and get hip fashion tips. And most of all, I’m thankful that God is using their new more independent spirits to teach me how to work hard to love my people well and pursue them, just like He does with me.
Do you have tween girls? If so, teach me your ways, oh wise friend! Give us some of your best tips in the comments below. If you don’t have tween girls, feel free to comment below with all your prayers for those of us who do!! 😂 I’d love to hear from you on social media, too; you can find me on Instagram here.