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I’m Grown Up Now, Right?

by Ronald A. Rowe | November 6th, 2012 | Tweens

One of the many challenges facing parents of tweens is managing the rapidly evolving transition from child to… something else. Kids want to feel and act grown up — in accordance with their own understanding of what it means to be grown up. Sometimes, that involves a tween overstepping his or her bounds in interaction with other adults. It’s hard for a 11- or 12-year-old to maintain the proper level of deference when he or she starts thinking of him- or- her- self as a peer rather than a subordinate.

As we put more pressure — I’m talking about good, healthy pressure here — on them to act like an adult it becomes very easy for the kids to forget that they are not, in fact, actual adults. The very real danger here is your tween suddenly thinking he is on footing to argue with adults inappropriately.

It’s a tightrope. On the one hand, it is our job as parents to prepare our children for adulthood. We can’t do that by keeping them in a box and blocking their ascendancy. On the other hand, an 11-year-old doesn’t have the proper judgement to discern the appropriate way to interact with adults. Close family friends with whom they feel a certain casualness are a particular risk, especially since those are the people most likely to look the other way and allow your child to get away with it for the sake of friendship and harmony.

Our job as parents is to make sure that our children make the transition responsibly. That means harping on being respectful more often than we’d like. That means paying attention to his or her conversations with our friends and family when we’d rather be doing something else. It’s hard, time consuming work. But the reward is well-mannered, polite young men and women and hope for the next generation.

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