Parenting 101 & Tweens
Kay Hymowitz’s (2009) essay titled, “Tweens: Ten going on Sixteen,”
focuses on a specific group of children, ages eight to fourteen. This age
bracket, referred to as “tweens” by marketing researchers, educators,
and psychiatrists, now represents a new social order. It is the maturation
process, or lack thereof, that is the heart of this essay.
Ms. Hymowitz brings an impressive list of credentials and resources to
support her argument. However, I disagree with her pessimistic analysis. As
of 2001, 29 million children made up the tween demographic in America
(Kennedy, 2004) and that is too many children to put into one behavioral
category. I argue that Ms. Hymowitz’s examples stand out, not because of
their age. These children stand out because their parents do not “parent.”
We have a moral obligation to provide our children with safe, loving
homes. It is within this environment that a child receives direction. Positive
character development is encouraged. Discipline is present, not to break the
will of a child, but instead, help that child learn to manage their will and
make the better decisions. (Andreola, 1998) Ms. Hymowitz (2009) and her
many constituents are correct, peer pressure and hormones can affect how a
child behaves, but only if the parent and the child allow it.
Do you remember the 1980’s anti-drug slogan, “Just Say No”?
Originally developed as an advertising campaign to teach children to say
“no” to their peers when asked to try drugs, it is also an important parenting
skill. Admittedly, no parent likes to see his or her child unhappy and there
are occasions when even the most vigilant of parents gives in to avoid a
public meltdown. Nevertheless, our family has a saying, “No Happens.” My
husband and I feel that by teaching our daughter how to cope with
disappointment we are giving her a greater gift; the gift of self-control. That
is something the children that Ms. Hymowitz has spotlighted have none of.
“Studies consistently show that kids who are being raised by parents
who make a deliberate effort to be actively involved in their kids’ lives are
kids who have an easier time handling negative peer pressure and
influence.” (Mueller, 2007) Increasingly, my tween experience is positive.
Instead of feeling negatively about the future of our children, I am hopeful.
Our church groups are full to over-flowing with tweens. With strong parental
support, they participate in many social activities. They volunteer.
They are less self-centered and more willing to help. They are developing a
moral compass. It will serve them well in years to come.
When discussing tweens, Ms. Hymowitz (2009) says that media and
absentee parents are the two common influencing themes. (p248) If parents
are fully tuned-in, giving their children proper direction, then that eliminates
the one-two punch that is handing peer groups their power. Parenting 101
is making the difference.
Andreola, K. (1998) Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning. Charlotte Mason Research & Supply. United States.
Hymowitz. K. (2009). Tweens: Ten going on Sixteen.
Kennedy, D. (April 2004). Coming of Age in Consumerdom. BNet.com. Retrieved Dec. 27, 2009. From http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m4021/is_3_26/ai_114558703/
Mueller, W. (2007). Youth Culture 101. Grand Rapids, MI. p. 275
Nadell, J., Langan, J., Comodromos, E.A. (2009). The Longman Writer: Rhetoric, Reader, Research Guide, and Handbook (7th ed.). New York, NY. pp 245-249.