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Parenting Tween Girls | A Survival Guide for Savvy Moms

Updated on October 22, 2014

From Cat Fights to Good Nights, Moms and Daughters Share It All

As mothers - and fathers, too - we want what is best for our tween girls as they grow up.  It's hard work, but she is our daughter, and worth every effort.
As mothers - and fathers, too - we want what is best for our tween girls as they grow up. It's hard work, but she is our daughter, and worth every effort. | Source

Let the Tween Drama Begin

She’s full of sass, she's newly chic; She’s one hot mess.  She’s a tween.... and she's yours.
She’s full of sass, she's newly chic; She’s one hot mess. She’s a tween.... and she's yours. | Source

Mother / Daughter Ties that Bind

There is something almost religious about the mother - daughter bond.
There is something almost religious about the mother - daughter bond. | Source

Poem: A Child of Mine

I can see

Reflections in your eyes

One of me

And one of distant skies.

You are leaving

But part of me goes with you

Near or far, you are a child of mine.

- Scott Everly

It's A Girl Thing

Surviving a tween girl takes a special kind of patience. But like many things in life, the only way around it, is through.

Because we love our daughters and because we want them to succeed, we are willing to battle the eye-rolling and the irrational diva-esque behavior (wasn’t that formerly our exclusive as the woman of the household?) that suddenly emerge, head on. Smart moms will do this with the confidence of our own womanhood, a sense of savvy, perseverance and humor arming us as battle weapons (see the the first moon party video below for a hero of a mom).

For we know, we truly know, that it is an honor earned us as a mom to take this lovely and worthy foe on, as our protégé; our duty, our labor of love. As a collective, we mothers must commit with fearless confidence as the exact right mother for this, our child, our girl; “Bring it on.”

Because, mothers, as you may have already seen, somewhere around 12 years of age, it is common for our sweet little girls to turn into sort of alien-type creatures, irrational and filled with drama and attitude if they are in the realm of what’s usual. As parents, although this is a surprising development (no pun intended), the faster we get wise to their tricks and shadow-throwing, the easier what follows will be.

Our Tween Daughters - They Still Need Us

Our daughters still need us. Although they may act like they want to be in charge and think us to be dull and obtuse, they want our approval and our guidance, yet are challenging us at every turn because, simply, this is their job. Growing up is not easy. A pulling away and coming back for comfort and approval will be the signature of the next several years.

Through all the “Oh no you didn’t!”’s, and the finger wagging between female sensitivities, one younger and one older, there will be the same tears, laughter and hugs there always has been… and maybe even more.

It Seems Like Just Yesterday.....

Children grow up so fast.  It seems like just yesterday that your daughter was small.  But now, she needs you more than ever.
Children grow up so fast. It seems like just yesterday that your daughter was small. But now, she needs you more than ever. | Source

These Are The Years!

Entering the tween years is a crazy time for mothers and daughters (and dads, too!).  There is a definite push and pull happening!  But, it's all good.
Entering the tween years is a crazy time for mothers and daughters (and dads, too!). There is a definite push and pull happening! But, it's all good. | Source

Quote on Life Lessons:

"Three things in life are important: the first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind."

- Henry James

Getting Over Ourselves to Acknowledge the Goal

The first thing I noticed as a mother of a tween, was that mothers and daughters are often at odds, yet can also be best friends within a matter of hours. Because I am a woman, I have my own cultivated brand of crazy. Recognizing the emergence of my daughter’s own developing irrational femininity was an amusedly shocking thing to be initially confronted with as my sweet and loving daughter turned tween. I knew it was coming; or at least I was told that these years would come. The goodness and the failure in myself and my own childhood tend to get reflected back at me as I envision the future for my offspring.

We, as mothers and fathers, need to quietly accept that our children have different paths than us and do not necessarily have to fulfil those things we failed to do. Sometimes, we may need to take our blinders (our predisposed notions) off and give our kids a chance to be themselves; the very best version of themselves, that is. In other words, we want to guide them safely through adolescence, teach them morals, and cultivate their talents. We want to push them to succeed and comfort them when they are stressed out. We want to show them that life needs a grain of salt and a respect for kindness. We want to show them they are both loved and worthy of love; but that the rules do and always will, apply to them.

This is it. THIS is the active parenting years. This is where we earn our badges. This is where we have to now step up, not only keeping them alive, but actively parenting and shaping and molding and holding them back and letting them go appropriately.

Embrace the Change!

Somewhere around the age of 11 or 12, priorities seem to shift for your little girl.  Times they are a changing!
Somewhere around the age of 11 or 12, priorities seem to shift for your little girl. Times they are a changing! | Source

Good Read for Your Tween Girl:

The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition
The Care and Keeping of You: The Body Book for Younger Girls, Revised Edition

To approach some not so comfortable topics, enlist the help of this award-winning book to introduce your daughter to issues of puberty. Follow with a heartfelt talk between mother and daughter.

 

13 Tips for Surviving Your Tween Girl

So, because we all love our kids, parents are ready to embark on the tween girl survival not just in an effort to merely forge through the emotional torture to the other side, but in an effort to mold our young women into good people who will become assets to both society and families in the future. We want to teach them how to lead a happy life and be a happy person and give back to the world their light. Just the fact that you are reading this article, shows you are one of those parents that has interest and love enough to provide your daughter with the affections, attention and instruction she needs from you. She is your first apprentice; and a worthy opponent, I am sure.

Helpful Hints For Moms Raising a Tween:

  • Commiserate with other moms
  • Use humor
  • Laugh with your daughter often
  • Take some you time
  • Do fun things with your daughter to bond
  • Keep it real

Because we are all in this parenting thing together, I assure you that I am no more skilled than you at this growing-up-kids thing. But together, we will all figure it out. These have been my observations so far as to what we need to do to usher our girls into a lifetime of happiness and prosperity. If I even have one year more experience than you, or just a tad bit less fear, I hope these revelations render useful along your journey. Truth be told, if you care, you are already on the right track. To my advantage, I had a great mom growing up and thus, have these pearls to share.


Beautiful Video on Girl's Self-Esteem - Dove (Must See)

1. Teach Your Tween to Love Herself

We want our daughters to have self-esteem and self-respect and an awareness of how important and special they are to us and what they should as well be, to others that love them – and heck, just everyone they meet on the street! Build your daughter up with confidence in any way that you can. Encourage her and laugh together when there are failures. Tell her all the great things about herself and point out positive role models of women that are strong, good, productive and kind that she can relate to, given her own unique qualities.

Tweens: A Whole Lot Going On

There's a lot going on in a tween girl's life.  It is your job to offer guidance, put on the breaks and green light new progressions.
There's a lot going on in a tween girl's life. It is your job to offer guidance, put on the breaks and green light new progressions. | Source

On Women:

“The fortune of us that are the moon's men doth ebb and flow like the sea, being governed, as the sea is, by the moon.”

―William Shakespeare

2. Know Your Daughter

No one knows our children like we do, however, it is around this age that we cannot be too naïve. Tween girls have so much going on inside their heads at any given moment and outside influences are at work upon our children every day; as parents, we need to be aware of the world they live in and their developing attitudes toward it.

Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your daughter, being overly curious, even confidentially “gossiping” (sharing your thoughts on things, and listening to hers) with your daughter as a means for garnering information about the world she lives in, will help keep you apprised of the status quo.

Cultivate friendships with other moms of your daughter’s friends, so you always have an inside line on things that your daughter may not reveal specifically to you. Use the knowledge you have of your child to hold her back and let her go in the right degrees. Engage your daughter in conversation at any opportunity. Some conversations will be light, some will be important, but establishing communications will in the end, be your greatest defense in ensuring your daughter has your ear when she needs it most.

An Oldie But Goodie...

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Who doesn't remember this book from adolescence? Are you ready yet to recommend to your daughter?

 

3. Spy on Your Child (and Tell Them You Will Be Doing It!)

The above being said, even if you think you know your child, things are going to happen that you may not be aware of or would be surprised about. You need to spy. Check texts and Instagram accounts. Tell your daughter that you will be checking these things regularly. Ask around. Become a detective and be nosy. Information is a great defense from harm…. And truthfully, it just shows your daughter how much you are interested in her and how much you really care. Let her know it is your business as a parent to be up in her business and you expect her to live up to family expectations and rules.

4. Spend Time, Spend Time, Spend Time

In being a mom, you need to make sure you spend time with your daughter. Bond with her, doing things that she likes to do. Take opportunities to schedule family days or outings, where no other friends are allowed. Chit chat. Laugh. Love your daughter’s friends as your own. They are doing you a great service in keeping your daughter company throughout these important years.

What Do You Think?

Give a shout out to your sister-moms if you think raising tweenage girls is one of the most challenging things yet!

See results

5. Cultivate Good Friendships for Your Tween

Encourage the good friendships. Kid’s friends are so important. Try to steer them toward children that are headed down the right paths and whose parents have values similar to yours. If your child has a friend you are not sure about, keep them close. Get to know that friend and really try to see the goodness your child sees in them. If you can’t find it, try to dissuade your daughter from their company if possible. Friendships can really have such an impact and influence on kids. These relationships are very powerful, for good and bad. In this department, you really need to pay attention!

Yeah.... We've Got Our Work Cut Out for Us.

Tween girls can often be adversarial.  But, then they're right back loving you just when you think it's all gone to pot!
Tween girls can often be adversarial. But, then they're right back loving you just when you think it's all gone to pot! | Source

Looking Onto a World of Futures

Every mom has hopes and dreams for the brightest of futures for our daughters.
Every mom has hopes and dreams for the brightest of futures for our daughters. | Source

6. Make No Topic Off Limits

Early on, make yourself available and have all the talks a mother and daughter should. This includes sex talks, talks about drugs and drinking, talks about respecting others and commanding respect herself. Go there. Be there to listen to whatever she may have confusion or interest in. Be fearless in providing guidance and advice and try not to overreact, even when you may want to. Be honest, so she may learn to trust you and share your experiences, good and bad, lest there be a lesson there. Make sure you support your daughter as she faces puberty. Give her all the tools she needs to embrace a new burgeoning “womanhood.” Try to listen to every conversation, even if you are busy. You never know when your daughter is engaging you for an important reason and just opening the door for some much needed support. No matter what is going on in the moment, there is nothing more important than your daughter.

Hysterical Mother / Tween Daughter Video on Hitting Puberty

“This is it. THIS is the active parenting years. This is where we earn our badges. You only get one chance.”

7. Instill Morals

As in the article, 6 Benefits of Teaching Your Daughter Abstinence, some discussion surrounding the topic of morals should have its place. Even if you have to trap your daughter into listening to your lectures as you shuttle her to and from her activities, make sure you talk about morality and what you feel is safe practice toward a happy life. Let her know there are dangers out there for girls especially. Your daughter needs to understand that she is no one’s means to an end and that other people, as well, no matter who they are, have feelings and are worthy of nothing short of compassion, empathy and respect. Young woman with qualities toward kindness and self love will make a positive impact on the future.

No One Understands Like Mom!

No matter what age your daughter is, she is still your little girl.  You have the power to comfort her through life's difficulties like no other.
No matter what age your daughter is, she is still your little girl. You have the power to comfort her through life's difficulties like no other. | Source

8. Give Affection to Your Tween Girl

One moment my daughter will be yelling at me and asking me why I hate her. The next moment, she will be cuddled up next to me in the armchair, head on my shoulder, being my baby. Tweens are just kids in bigger bodies and they need to trust that you love them like you always have, no matter what transpired throughout the day’s trials, successes and tribulations.

Girls Need Their Dads, Too!

From their dads, tween girls derive so much regarding future notions of self.  Some dads can play the role of mom, too, if need be!
From their dads, tween girls derive so much regarding future notions of self. Some dads can play the role of mom, too, if need be! | Source

Tween Girls Can Display Some For-Real Strange Behavior!

Even dads notice something is different when daughters turn tween.
Even dads notice something is different when daughters turn tween. | Source

Meryl Streep Imitates an Annoyed Tween Girl 2:10

9. Say No, Say Yes and Be Consistent

As a parent, it is important to say no. Setting limitations will establish the knowledge that you care for your child’s well-being; that there needs to be rules in life and that you will hold back your daughter when something is not a safe place to go yet. They may be angry with you in the moment, but they will appreciate the fact that they have a mother who will stick to the rules and this will provide them safety and a sense of security, whether you think it will in the moment or not. Your daughter will love you for setting limits.

Sometimes as a mom, you will have the pleasure and even the fear, of saying yes as well. You know your child and when you feel they are ready to be dropped off with their friend at a movie or an event (and picked back up at the door), you can say yes. When it is appropriate for a sleepover, you can say yes. When they want to go shopping and buy that new trendy top, you can say yes. Sometimes. You will know when.

I have found that in parenting a tween, one of our best tools is to be consistent. This will come in handy when defending ourselves from their rants on how unfair we can be. Treat all your children with the same rules and enforce them consistently. Then your child will be able to fall back on their rules when they need an excuse to get them out of a tight spot.

Mother Always Knows Best

It's not easy being the mom of a tween girl.  But luckily for us, it comes natural!
It's not easy being the mom of a tween girl. But luckily for us, it comes natural! | Source

They Still Need Us To Take Care of Them - But in Different Ways

When our children were little, we could just kiss their boo boos away.  Now, the hurts are different, but cause as much pain and can be more dangerous.
When our children were little, we could just kiss their boo boos away. Now, the hurts are different, but cause as much pain and can be more dangerous. | Source

10. Play the Scapegoat

Along the same lines, offer your child your assistance in being their scapegoat if they feel unsafe in a group of friends or getting out of doing something socially they don’t want to do. Remember that we don’t always know the whole situation and if a child feels uncomfortable, there may be a reason coming from their gut. Don’t be afraid to make excuses for your child or to be on the other end of a texting phone, ready to bail them out when they need to retreat back from an interlude to the comforts of home. They are still very young and not always savvy enough yet to maneuver out of complicated social situations. While they learn, give them the out they may need to always be safe. This will let them know they can count on you, always.

11. Be a Good Role Model for Your Daughter

As a mom, your daughter is your protégé. They get their ideas of motherhood and womanhood from you, like it or not. Be a good role model and never forget that your daughter is watching you. Honor yourself and show her what self-respect and self-love looks like, no matter how hard that is. Teach her that she is worthy of respectful treatment from other people and model kindnesses as well. Talk about subjects that need to be addressed if you have regrets in your own life, or successes you would love to share about your own progression as a woman in the world. Recognize that your daughter is different from you in ways, but that she is your daughter. Show her you love her and are proud of her for the many special things she is.

Our Daughters Are Each Beautiful in Their Own Unique Way

Our tween daughters are beautiful - every one!
Our tween daughters are beautiful - every one! | Source

Remember: You're Still in Charge

In our heads, it is easy to envision losing our cool.  But savvy moms, know there are better ways...
In our heads, it is easy to envision losing our cool. But savvy moms, know there are better ways... | Source

12. Don't Be Afraid to Yell Sometimes

I am of the opinion that yelling at your children is a good thing (insofar as volume is concerned). While it is always preferable to keep your calm, some situations dictate a little release of emotion to not only emphasize importance, but to display the fact that we are all human. Your children will most certainly be told no in their lives, and will be beat-up on some days. People will be mean. If a child is familiar with being yelled at by someone they love, perhaps they will be able to take the rest with a better grain of salt when it happens to them in the real world. Yelling is sometimes a necessity and losing your cool, it happens to the best of us. My house growing up was a place where emotion was ok. Just keep things in perspective and never go too far overboard, saying things you don’t truly mean or can’t take back. Do display the appropriate amount of anger for offenses committed, to the end that you are teaching your child values they will need to succeed in life.

So Your Tween Girl Can Resemble A Diva...

On my worst days, I feel like I don't even know my tween.  But then, everything turns around again and I know its going to be ok.
On my worst days, I feel like I don't even know my tween. But then, everything turns around again and I know its going to be ok. | Source

...But They Can Still Be Little Angles at Times.

At heart, our tweens are just the same little children they have always been - in slightly bigger bodies.
At heart, our tweens are just the same little children they have always been - in slightly bigger bodies. | Source

Daughters Are Friends for Life

Often times, your daughter turns into a friend for life when they are mothers themselves.
Often times, your daughter turns into a friend for life when they are mothers themselves. | Source

13. Forgive, Show Trust and Give Love!

We all have hard days, as mothers and daughters. Sometimes, we have our not-so-best moments. However, we can practice forgiveness and we can always give each other a second chance. Trust is a fragile thing, but can be torn down and rebuilt over and over with hard work and honesty and love. Let your daughter know she has your love and she can trust you, no matter what. This growing up thing is a marathon, not a sprint. Good luck, moms! You’re going to need it for this one.

Our Greatest Accomplishment!

Our daughters will be our greatest accomplishments when the process is done!
Our daughters will be our greatest accomplishments when the process is done! | Source

What Do You Think?

Did your own mother have a great effect on your view of womanhood?

See results

As a parent, do you fear for your daughter in this world of hyper-technology, increased bullying and accessibility to substance-related dangers?

See results

Sometimes Our Daughters Seem Like the Other Side of Ourselves

Yeah, moms and daughters can clash in emotion.  But in the end, we're two sides of the same coin.
Yeah, moms and daughters can clash in emotion. But in the end, we're two sides of the same coin. | Source

Jimmy Fallon on Tweens: "Ew!"

Online Resources To Help You in Raising Tweens:

  • KidsHealth.org - information about kids and teens health that is especially geared toward parents.
  • Parenting.org - a free online resource for parents of children all ages.
  • iVillage.com - an online magazine that contains information and tips on a myriad of subjects including parenting and lifestyle topics.

Love Those Sweet Tween Girls!

It won't be long before your tween is a mom herself.  Do her right and show her the ropes of growing up girl.
It won't be long before your tween is a mom herself. Do her right and show her the ropes of growing up girl. | Source

Books You'll Love:

The Adolescent Brain: Reaching for Autonomy
The Adolescent Brain: Reaching for Autonomy

This highly rated book helps explain some of the mysteries of adolescent thinking.

 

Invitation for Interactive "Mommentary":

Knowing we are not alone as moms really helps us in terms of both confidence and support. Please share below in the comments section a mother/tween story about a daughter you know, or offer your own piece of advice/inspiration on this ever-important topic of raising tween girls!

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    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      stuff4kids, thank you so very much. You made my morning! It is hard, parenting tween girls and yes, very important. There really are just so many dangers out there. But it's fun and amazing too, to watch our girls unfold into stronger females as they grow. A worthy pursuit for sure....!

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 2 years ago

      I think you've written a rare thing: a hub that is actually important. really important.

      It's possibly the most honest and beautiful thing I've read here for a long time. I hope it is widely read. Shared.

      Thank you. :)

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you, Lisa! Daughters are such gifts. I so want to do right by mine! It gets a little dicey sometimes, but I know we'll figure out her growing up together!

    • Lisa Joynson profile image

      Lisa Joynson 2 years ago

      Beautifully written! I have 3 girls.

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Wordswithlove, thank you so much for your comment and the love you are sharing surrounding our tween girls. It is so encouraging to know we will all make it through and our daughters will grow in maturity and flower - and be just fine young women for us to be proud of! It is a lot of patience and work but all worth the efforts, I know!

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 2 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Wow, amiebutchko, I applaud the detailed and well-written hub you have written, clearly with heart.

      As a mother of two daughters, one almost 22 and the other 15, I would agree that the journey of going through the tween and teen years is the most profound bond-building one - fraught with the most excruciating challenges, yet, if successfully navigated, the most rewarding one. None of us is perfect, but if we listen to our maternal instinct, with or without guidebooks, etc, chances are we will come through that turbulent time. I remember how many times I thought while raising my first, "Good God, can I just go to sleep for a few years until she turns 20 and wake up to someone with common sense?" Lol, she did just fine and we have a wonderful, solid relationship. Now, it is time again......I think I will survive! :)

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thanks Seafarer Mama! You're in for a big surprise! It is such a funny time, truly. But you know what, you will be ready. I think just as our girls turn tweens, we really come into a new place in our motherhood, thankfully, and it is just in time! They really need us and we rise to the occasion, as always!

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen Szklany Gault 2 years ago from New England

      Totally awesome hub! My daughter is just 2 years away from being a full-fledged "tween" and I can see it coming, so I know that I'll be referring to the resources in this hub often. Thank you, Amie!

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you crystolite!! Interesting story. Kids are our blessing!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 2 years ago from Houston TX

      Interesting hub. Almost everyone wishes to have a twin as their kids, but its not really easy you know. I have an aunt, she's the mother of a twin, girls precisely! As they grew up, she pampered them so much, but that was a bad idea. When she realised her mistake, she had to give them a motherly discipline, but yet, she loves them so much!

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you teaches1345. It is definitely a challenge! I will remember what you said for sure! Thank you so much for reading.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 2 years ago

      This is good advised for parents of tweens. Your thoughts on allowing them to make mistakes is hard for parents to follow, but so very much needed in order to help children understand consequences. Loved your message.

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Thank you, Purpose Embraced. It is difficult to accept that all our actions are important and translate into so many important things to our children. I do have a true wish for my daughter to grow up kind, successful and happy. I only hope that as a parent, I can guide her in the right directions!

    • Purpose Embraced profile image

      Yvette Stupart PhD 2 years ago from Jamaica

      This is a great hub with awesome advice for parenting tween girls. I agree, we need to be good role models for our children, they learn from watching us. Thanks for sharing.

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      Denise, having 6 daughters, I guess I would say you are an expert at this! I have found it to be so comical, but definitely scary at times. It so helps to talk to other moms. Thank you so much for both commenting and understanding!

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      What an awesome article! We have six wonderful daughters and one son. He was the youngest! Our daughters were close enough in age that we saw the stages as each had their turn. The tween years were especially rocky and you have described them well here. We learned that hurtful comments were nothing more than blowing off steam, and that love was more important than anything. You are right in that setting limits, and knowing what your tween is doing are the best way to stay in the loop. It is definitely an adventure!

    • amiebutchko profile image
      Author

      Amie Butchko 2 years ago from Warwick, NY

      It really is!

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