Moms of Tween Girls Unite (You Are Not Alone)!

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Did you know that I am “the most annoying person in the entire world?” Wait, what do you mean “I thought I was the one with that honor, how is it possible that it’s you?” I assure you, it’s me. I mean, my lovely 11 year old daughter tells me at least 10 times a day that I alone am deserving of that title! Here are some examples of our daily conversations:

Me: “Please get up and get dressed, it is noon.”

My daughter: “Uggggggggh you are the most annoying person in the whole world!”

Me: “Are you hungry? Can I make you something to eat?”

My daughter: “Yes.”

Me: “What would you like?”

My daughter: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Noodles? A sandwich?”

My daughter: “I don’t know. You are SO annoying!”

Me: “You look so pretty today!”

My daughter: “Ugh, no I don’t. You are the most annoying person EVER!”

Sound familiar? If so, I am sure you are as frustrated as I am! My son (now 14) never acted this way! I regularly feel as if nothing I do is right, no matter how hard I try to please her. Now, I know as a parent it is not my job to please her, but to keep her safe, teach her lessons, and provide her with the tools she needs to become a responsible, successful woman. And I get that if I am told how annoying I am when I try to instill these lessons and tools that that is probably a GOOD thing.

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However, it would be nice to hear “thank you” once in awhile after buying her new clothes, or taking her friends to a movie, right? I am one of three girls and I seriously ask my dad several times a week how he handled THREE girls when I am pulling my hair out with one!

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So what can we do (aside from wine, but alas, that is another post for another day) to balance raising good kids with saving our own sanity? Deep breaths, for sure. Girls’ Night Out to complain with other knowing moms? Absolutely. Repeating over and over “she’ll be in college soon, really she will” wouldn’t hurt either. But in all seriousness, good old fashioned empathy may be what works best. Putting ourselves in our girls’ shoes is vital to helping us understand what is going on in their pretty little heads (and, for me, since she does now wear the same size shoes as me I do not mean that in the literal sense)! Can you remember when you were a tween? I guess that depends on how old you are, right?

Well, I will date myself here and say that I was a tween in the early 80’s. There were no cell phones, no social media, no Internet (my kids still can’t fathom this last one). We didn’t have to worry about every single thing we said being posted to the world, bad pictures being shared without consent, or being stressed out about responding to texts in a timely fashion so as not to upset our friends. Sure, we stressed about what to wear, whether a cute boy was interested, if we were “popular” at school, and how to deal with peer pressure. And that was a lot. A whole lot. Imagine having to deal with all that PLUS all of the things the double edged sword called technology bestows upon kids today!

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We may have complained about having to share a phone with multiple siblings, or having to wait a week to get a return letter via snail mail from a friend or boyfriend we met at camp, but I’d venture to guess that some kids wouldn’t mind having these problems today in exchange for a little less worry about conforming to what social media preaches as the norm. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be called far worse than annoying if I were to suggest that my daughter not use her phone or any form of social media any more; however, it is important to understand that while most disrespectful outbursts by tweens are unacceptable, they are often not delivered with any ill intent. Stress, hormones, and immaturity cause many kids (and let’s face it, adults) to do and say things that they don’t really mean; while tweens should absolutely be reprimanded and/or punished (depending on the severity) for their bad behavior, parents should be sure that “the punishment fits the crime,” and to use the events as learning tools, rather than an excuse to run away.

So the next time you are called annoying or any other lovely adjective, take a deep breath, count to 3, and try to imagine yourself in your tween’s world. Think of how you feel when trying to make everybody happy (impossible) while simultaneously worried about whether you are going to get the bills paid on time (and how you are going to pay them). Then add in various colleagues (or other parents) telling you exactly how you need to do things (and when) or nobody will like you any more. Finally, throw in your own mom breathing down your neck saying “well, I wouldn’t do it that way, but I guess it’s ok if you think it’s ok.”

I know it is way easier said than done, but try not to take the name calling personally (I need to take my own advice on this one). Instead, reach out to your daughter if she seems willing (or wanting) to talk, or simply leave her alone if she might benefit from some time to process her own thoughts. At the end of the day, she really does love you, and really does appreciate that you are even attempting to help, but may not know how to show this (or may not be able to through no fault of her own – i.e., hormones). My husband’s grandmother always said “this too shall pass.” I think that’s a great mantra for dealing with tween girls.

Here are some resources that may help you get through the tweenage years (some have genuine info, others are great for comic relief and for helping you see that you are not alone):

If you have any of your own tips and tricks PLEASE share in a comment below so we can all benefit from them! And if all else fails, keep this in mind:

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