My daughter turned nine a few months ago and I have already seen changes in our conversations. They are getting heavier and more complex. I’m having to really dig into my brain and my heart to provide the right answers and guide her in the right direction as she enters this new phase of life, inches closer to being a pre-teen, then a teen-ager, then an adult. Can we please slow down time?
When I talk to her, I’m shifting my memory back to my own childhood and sharing my own stories with her so she can see that she is not alone (” When I was your age…”). But of course, even though I can remember a semblance of something that happened to me when I was her age, I really can’t put myself in her shoes.
So, when we speak about any issues that she’s having, it’s often difficult. Between peer pressure, school, homework, after school activities and her own transitions, she has a lot going on. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to talk to her. Do I treat her like an adult? When I do, we often go in circles because it’s hard for her to see past they way she thinks. This is because at this age, a tween doesn’t really know what she doesn’t know, so she assumes she knows everything and will fight tooth and nail to prove her point. After all, she’s still a child. She has time to learn.
But there are changes. She once held onto my every word and reveled in my lusciousness. Now she gets moody. She closes doors when she wants to be alone. Last week when I picked her up at school, she was in state. Upset that we were walking home, upset that she would be starting a tennis lesson with her brother, desperate to stay home and watch TV. Her behavior was peculiar but I chalked it up to the fact that she had an off day, that she just didn’t feel like walking home.
Nonetheless, when we got home, she asked to speak to me alone. Believe me, I am so grateful that I am still her confidante. We are very close. She told me that a group of girls had “yelled” at her, including her closest friend. But when I asked for details, she said, “I don’t remember”. She cried yet never opened up about what happened, and within 24 hours, it was forgotten. 100% forgotten.
But I wonder what was said. I wish I could shield her from any pain coming her way, albeit peer pressure or any sort of negative situation. I don’t think I’ll ever find out.
In the mean time, I’ll work on getting her to open up. We’re extremely close and there is very little that she doesn’t tell me. That was the hardest thing to grasp about our chat.
How do you get your tweens to open up when they shut down?
Disclosure: I’ll soon be writing about my experiences raising a tween regularly on Kidzvuz.com.