You can’t talk too much
I let my daughter stay up late last night. She wasn't watching a movie or playing on the computer, she was talking to me ... and I didn't want to ruin the moment. At 9, she's, I guess, considered a "tween." I'm not sure who coined the word "tween," but I'd like to thank them. Not because I like the sound of the word, it's more that someone gave a modern label to a huge developmental stage. That word actually made me stop and take inventory of my parenting, what my kids might need from me, and honestly, what I might need to brush up on.
In the last couple of days I have been reminded that my being a therapist is a great thing as a parent and it's also something that bites me in the ass. Being this open-armed, loving, silly, semi-hippy, therapist mom has it's perks: the kids talk. My kids have found their voice in the home and established their place. I've worked at it, explaining why respect each other, why we listen, why we ask questions and why we don't poke our sister as she runs down the hall. It takes time and as a parent, you have to be prepared to be consistent and present. On the flip side of this magical therapist parent is: reality. I get tired and grumpy and I'm not as consistent as I want to be. The bite in the ass comes when the kids call me on it. And don't fool yourself, the kids know what's up. Now that I've given my kids this voice, well, they use it. As kindly and softly as I do with them, the kids remind me now when I have been too lax on the rules (ok, what?), when they need more quality time with me and when they need to talk. Now that I've opened this door for them I have to continue to guide them.
As I put my daughter to bed last night, I could tell that there was something on her mind, she wasn't settled in bed. So I asked her about school, friends, her goals and then she stopped 'just answering' my questions and opened up. I felt like I needed to buckle my seat belt. We talked for 2 hours stemming from a magazine article she had read earlier in the night. I watched this little woman begin to articulate her beliefs on the world. Those are the most precious moments as a parent, watching this amazing human being develop. I felt so lucky to be there.
This article my daughter read was pretty interesting, definitely a topic that should have been shared with me, and now I am sharing with you. Go check out these cool magazines for your tween: Discovery Girls, Boys Life and Discovery Kids. They are great quality magazines that don't squeal Bieber.
This article, in Discovery Girls, is about how much girls feel their parents understand them. And they took a poll. Ugh oh. There are adults here - involved in furthering this "tween" stage. They gave the girls a voice and it was, as my daughter described, "kind-of sad." The poll asked who girls felt most comfortable talking to: Mom or Dad? Moms got 77% and Dads got 34%. Only 29% of girls felt like their parents understood them. Holy Tamole. Parents, doesn't this concern you? These little folks in a "tween" stage have serious opinions about us already. Makes me want to stand up straight.
I asked my daughter why she felt this poll was sad and she said, "Well, I can't imagine not being able to have a safe place to talk about things." And that's why we talked for 2 hours. I realized we were in the safe place .