Tween Turning Heads [Guest Post]

This guest post is by Deb Dunham of –  a blog that supports  parents, teachers, and anyone else who cares  about tweens and self-esteem.

My twelve year old daughter is grabbing the attention of boys.  Quite frankly, I’m at a loss.

While vacationing at a lake this summer, we were introduced to two teen boys.  My daughter, looking older than her twelve years, especially in a swim suit, quickly became the center of attention.  Due to either oblivion or self-confidence, (I couldn’t tell which it was), my unaffected daughter proceeded to enjoy a harmless frolic with her peers.  In the meantime, three voices in my head did battle.

The three battling voices

  • The first voice, making me feel suddenly very old, said, “Good for her.  What an exciting time of life – entering the world of relationships with boys.  I remember that so long ago.”
  • The second voice, or rather growl, came from mama bear silently screaming at the boys, “She’s only twelve!  Leave her alone.”  And panic set in.
  • The final and most reasonable voice placed an empathetic hand on my shoulder as it watched my emotions tumble together; knocked off balance by surprise and denial.

To be honest, the whole scene paralyzed me temporarily.  In retrospect, I was shocked not so much by the realization that my first-born is slipping into the teen realm.  (I’d have to be pretty dense to miss that reality.)  Instead, I was unprepared for my own flurry of confusion in response.  One often mistakenly thinks she can mentally prepare for an emotional transition.  However, recalling the number of times I’ve helped my children to reframe a challenging situation, I realized I had many tools at my disposal.

Coping strategies for change

  1. Allow:  There is nothing more certain than change.  Often, change is disguised in frightening or unfamiliar garb, but it means no harm.  And no change comes without a gift; even if it takes a while for us to recognize it.  The more we allow change to move in freely, the faster the gift will be revealed.
  2. Affirm:  It’s always helpful to affirm one’s own strengths, but in times of change, it’s critical.  When my daughter worried about making friends as she transitioned to Middle School, I reminded her that making friends had never been a problem for her.  What’s the likelihood that it would be a problem this time?  Take time to acknowledge the strengths you bring to the table.  Consider the number of times you’ve ‘survived’ change and affirm your own part in moving through it.
  3. Ask:  Are you the only person who has ever experienced this change?  It’s doubtful.  Use your resources – friends, books, experts – to lend some clarity and comfort to your situation.  Sometimes, all we need is a fresh or experienced perspective to set us straight.

With each passing milestone, my heart seems to open to a new blend of feelings.  Just when I think I’m a seasoned mother, a silent wind blows through and changes the landscape I had painted. But I’m learning to enjoy the change.

I sit now, quietly reflecting on the passage of time.  And I am reminded to make peace with the seasons ahead of me.  Like the seasons of nature, life cycles with relative predictability.  I can’t know what storms they’ll bring, or what pleasures, but I know that none will last longer than its allotted time.
I remind myself to ride the wave – even though I’m not too fond of the ocean.

This guest post is by Deb Dunham of –  a blog that supports  parents, teachers, and anyone else who cares  about tweens and self-esteem.

One Response to “Tween Turning Heads [Guest Post]”

  1. Heather
    September 25, 2009 at 10:19 am #

    wow! amazing how that change creeps up on you and can be so shocking. you offer some great advice for coping with change – our children take their cues on how to react to situations from us, so from the sounds of it you did the right thing and let your daughter live in the moment!

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