Remember the children’s book Wacky Wednesday? Well, if you have children who’ve recently crossed the threshold into tweenhood (or will soon), life is a lot like that nonsensical Dr. Seuss classic — you wake up one morning, and nothing quite makes sense. Everything you do or say seems to be wrong, and when all is said and done, you’re just ready to call it a day and start fresh in the morning.
More: 5 things I learned after talking to 4,700 tween girls
Having a tween is just one of those tricky phases of parenting for which all the rules you thought you knew about dealing with your daughter change with little to no warning, and you have to figure it out as you go along.
But the truth is, even though talking to your tween can feel kind of like communicating with an alien (a wonderful one, no doubt), they do want a relationship with you — no matter how much they act like they don’t.
Here are a few tips for navigating the oft-confusing and at times hilarious world of parenting an adolescent in today’s day and age.
1. Thing you can’t do: Get the same amount of one-on-one time with her because she devotes it all to her phone.
2. Thing you can do: Suggest a sans-phone mani/pedi day. No tween girl will turn down a mani/pedi day even if it means ditching her phone.
3. Thing you can’t do: Take it personally every time she says “You’re the worst mom ev-er” in the throes of tween angst.
More: Battling a moody tween
4. Thing you can do: Realize she is a swirling vortex of hormones and emotions at the moment. Just give her some space. Hey, maybe she’ll clean up her room while she’s hunkered down in there!
5. Thing you can’t do: Expect her to stay home and snuggle with you every Saturday night like she did when she was a little girl. These days, she has things to do, like hang out with friends.
6. Thing you can do: Since her social calendar probably rivals yours at this point, find a day you know she’s free, and plan a fun night at home for the two of you. You might even up your cool cred if you let her pick the movie (age-appropriate, naturally).
7. Thing you can’t do: Try to downplay your tween’s addiction to selfies without her hitting her daily eye roll quota in the span of five minutes.
8. Thing you can do: Ask open-ended questions like “What’s your favorite thing about that band?” that let her know you really do care about her interests… even if that means sitting through a 30-minute ode to her favorite singer’s dreamy ‘do.
9. Thing you can’t do: Police every single thing she wears, even if it defies all seeming logic. As long as she isn’t breaking any dress codes, there’s no need to make a big deal over her rocking the latest inexplicable trend. You’ve gotta pick your battles, my friend.
10. Thing you can do: Of all demographics, tween-aged girls are probably the most likely to believe the clothes they wear define who they are. Want to get some QT in with your kid and try to understand the esoteric style of today’s youth? Offer to take your tween shopping. The mall is like the holy grail for tweens. And remember mama, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
11. Thing you can’t do: Understand half the stuff she says. Awks? Bae? Cheddar? Ship? What are they even saying? You know they’re trying to communicate something, but you can’t for the life of you figure out what.
12. Thing you can do: In lieu of leaning over your tween’s shoulder every time they send a text, with the hope that you’ll become hip to the lingo, you can try to have an honest — and let’s be real — probably hilarious talk with your tween about her vocabulary. After all, you don’t want to be a MOS (OK, I’ll save you some Googling — it’s Mom Over Shoulder).
This post was sponsored by Dole® Fruitocracy®.