Grappling With the Tween Boy Years

My oldest son is approaching age 12, which means he’s becoming a tween boy. He is growing closer to a height where he’s able to look me directly in the eye and as wondrous and exciting a time it is for him, it’s equally wonderous and scary for his parents.   

Grappling With the Tween Boy YearsI have no complaints. He’s growing into an amazing kid – he does well in school, has many friends, and stays active in sports. But whoa! this all happened so fast. Here are some of the things that I’m grappling with as a mom of a tween boy:  

  1. He (seems) to need me less. When he was around 10 years old, he had his first spend-the-night at a friend’s house. He got scared in the middle of the night and had the friend’s mother call me to pick him up. I wasn’t annoyed, rather I was happy to be there for him when he needed me. Now when he spends the night with friends, I’m lucky to hear from him at all.  
  2. His physical growth is astounding. Most people are shocked when I tell them he’s only 11. He looks more like a 15-year old. My husband and I know he has always been a big boy and is often mistaken for being older. This has made him mature faster emotionally but also may be a detriment in that people always expected him to behave maturely because he resembled an older child even when he was younger.
  3. He asserts his independence. Before COVID, I loved to plan a full itinerary for the weekend with my boys. It would include sports games, outdoor festivals, plays, scenic day trips, and more. Now that he’s older, he’s very choosy about where he wants to go and who he wants to go with. Schlepping my boys around from morning to evening was once a “given” where they had no say in the matter, and now it’s become a choice – especially for my tween son.  
  4. He thinks he knows everything. Oh yes, we’ve all been there. I remember being his age and arguing with my parents, but I still wasn’t prepared for this. He gets an idea or thought and thinks he knows the answer to everything, and when I try to reason with him – he wants to muffle my response. Help! I know it’s only the beginning.
  5. He thinks I worry too much. But there is so much out there to fear. I was a bit rebellious in my teens, and can speak from experience on all the dangers that lurk “out there.” These dangers and more seem so accessible these days with the connectivity of the internet and all kids are exposed to. I haven’t even figured out how to properly put “parent controls” on devices or our television. We are just not savvy enough to curtail what they are exposed to but we do our best.

With the help of his teachers, coaches, and our extended family, I pray he continues to have positive guidance and maturity to flourish as he grows out of the tween years and into his teen years.

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Dana is a working mom of two active boys, ages 4 and 8. She was born in Tel Aviv and raised in Atlanta. With a background in journalism, she spent 12 years chasing deadlines as a news and documentary producer, writer, international news desk editor, and web editor.  After the birth of her first child, it became obvious she was not going to be the next Katie Couric or Christiane Amanpour. She was still dedicated, but the only thing gained from the grueling weekend and overnight shifts was a case of gastritis. She remembers being "so busy" she could not step away for lunch/dinner/breakfast and would have to shove the food down while hovering over her computer. The disgusting crumbs piling up in the keyboard were hers. As luck would have it, another round of layoffs was near and she seized the opportunity (having survived a few layoffs before). Several months into her severance she was fortunate to find a job in PR and Communications, promoting a subject that felt like a natural fit.   The most important lesson she's learned since becoming a mom is: NEVER say never. "I will NEVER shop at Costco, drive a car with a carpool number, become a 'soccer' mom, live near my parents in a house in the suburbs."  She now does all those things and more she never thought she would with the utmost feeling of gratitude.