Parenting tween girls, specifically, since that’s what I have and what I know. At the time of publishing, H is 12 and K is 9. I usually feel like 9 is a little young for a tween label, but with factoring in personality type, I might argue my younger child is more of a tween than my older child at times!
I’ve wanted to chat parenting tweens for a while, but have been slow to do so mainly out of respect for their privacy. Sharing developmental milestones and parenting hurdles is different at this age. It feels more personal than sharing a nap schedule or feeding update of a toddler. But I think there is a way I can share some of my experience without crossing any lines I’m uncomfortable with, so with that, let’s talk tweens!
How we’re doing…
Tween Girl Clothing
Abercrombie is our current go-to for jeans, tops, and sweaters. Though one of my children typically prefers running shorts and a t-shirt everyday, she will happily wear Abercrombie for it’s comfort and cuteness. I find it holds up fairly well, too. I shared her go to picks for fall here.
My younger tween is into fashion and honestly does a pretty good job of putting items together I would never think of and rocking it. She is the fortunate recipient of a lot of hand me downs from both her sister and a friend, so she has a wide variety without having to shop much. I’m not sure where I’ll shop for her most when the need arises, so I’m grateful for the full closet for now.
I polled IG and asked where people were buying clothes for their tweens girls that felt, well, appropriate. The top responses were: Athleta Girl, Nordstrom Rack, Abercrombie, Aerie, Old Navy, Zara, Kohl’s, Ruth and Naomi, H&M, and Tilly’s.
Bodies start to change at this age and it’s been one of the trickier categories for me to navigate. I want them to feel comfortable making choices for their own bodies and not having to fit in with societal norms (I don’t care if you want to shave your legs at this moment or not), but also want to guide them into a world where a little experience and advice is helpful (I really wish I would have known how to properly dry my hair in the 7th grade and avoided the triangle head hairdo I rocked for 2-3 years).
Some things are non negotiable, like basic hygiene. Yes, you must shower, wash your hair regularly, and brush your teeth. You must wear deodorant (I buy Primally Pure for them – AHEALTHYSLICE10 will get you 10% off). You must splash water on your face in the morning to get rid of any eye crusties. The basics.
The next level gets tricker. I help with hair removal solutions upon request. I’ve offered tips for things like zits (and share these miracle patches). One wants to wear make up and one does not, but for right now, neither are allowed to wear it out of the house, though we do go to Sephora and play around sometimes! I help blow dry hair when asked. I purchase undergarment options for the recipient to decide which works best under which shirts. I do my best to maintain open lines of communication and they know they can come to me with any question or request.
As for periods, I’m not going to get into much detail here. However, I feel it’s always a good thing to be prepared. I talk fairly openly about my personal experience with my monthly cycle. I want them to understand in their teen and young adult years how the female cycles works, how to best support it, what you may be feeling during the different phases, etc. As far as mechanics, this kit is a great one to have on hand, as is a couple pairs of regular and overnight absorbent underwear options, like Knix.
Technology with Tweens
This is the age I’ve really noticed the wide range of how parents handle it. I can speak to what works for us. Neither girl has a cell phone and won’t for the foreseeable future. We run the “what’s the benefit?” test by a lot of decisions and just don’t see any need for them to have a phone at these ages. That being said, we did purchase an old school flip phone with a basic plan as a third line and will lend that out to the girls as needed (if dropped off at a practice or pet sitting for example). There is only call and text, no internet.
Both girls have iPads and computers, but neither can be used at their whim, outside of music. They can always play music or listen to a story. When they do have time on them outside of math and writing, they like to use them for things like looking up crafts, playing games, and searching for science or cooking videos. We just started letting them have access to YouTube Kids. All technology is used in the common room where we can peek in whenever.
We prefer watching shows and movies to be a shared experience, so when they want to watch one of those, we play it on the living room TV; it’s just more fun to laugh together.
I won’t say much about how we will handle technology in the coming years because we aren’t there yet, but right now this is working well.
I love being with my tweens. Are there some higher emotions? Yes. Though I’d argue my 9 year old has moodier swings than my 12 year old many times. I remind myself that the important thing to remember is not to take everything personally as a parent. Their job at this age is to manage these new hormonal swings, push boundaries (that need to be reinforced), and learn to take on new responsibilities. Knowing that mom and dad are a safe constant, not shaken by their emotional swings, gives them the confidence they need to lean into this new stage of development.
Tweens are fun. They aren’t too cool for school yet and are full of curiosity and energy. Now we like to read and experience more things that we both enjoy, like reading Hunger Games together, watching Wednesday, and playing spa. I feel like I have two little besties sometimes when I show them a new make up product or body oil I got. They also can take on real responsibility (please get dinner started before I get home) and be genuinely helpful.
Dads are so important at this age, too, and I love watching David be a tween dad. He does it so well. He doesn’t shy away from continuing the connection he’s always had with the girls. While I might bond with them through cooking and reading and walks, he bonds with them through showing them how to shoot a bow and arrow, use the circular saw, and mow the lawn.
My goal for parenting has always been to enjoy each stage with them, guide them with truth, embrace changes of seasons as they come, and let go when appropriate. So far this strategy has kept us close and my hope is that it will continue through the teens years as we continue to support their walk toward adulthood.
I’m learning as I go in this category, trying to balance how I show love (largely by caretaking) and teaching responsibility. A couple weeks ago I realized I was basically cooking three meals a day for us and decided that probably was going past reasonable and into an enabling behavior. So I made the announcement that they’d be making their own breakfast on the weekdays from here on out. There was some moaning and groaning the first day or so, but dare I say they’ve embraced it now? They won’t admit it, but there is pride that comes with responsibility and I think they’ve both felt it as they’ve fully taken over their breakfast time routine.
Core responsibilities my tweens have: getting themselves up, making breakfast, washing their dishes, getting themselves ready for the day (dressed, hair, teeth), school work, moving their body each day (running, trampoline, playing outside, whatever), doing their own laundry, and helping with a happy heart when asked.
Additional responsibilities being added: practicing as necessary for commitments (piano, theater lines, etc), pet sitting, helping neighbors. I’m working on enforcing the idea of integrity and to meet a need when they see a need without having to be asked.
I think that’s a pretty good overview of parenting tweens at the moment! If you’re in the midst of tweendom right now, how is it treating you? Mamas ahead of me- what are the teen years like? And mamas not yet at this stage- did I miss anything that would be helpful to touch on? I love hearing how other parents do things! For all parenting-focused posts, visit my parenting page!