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Tween Idol or Train Wreck?

by Ronald A. Rowe | February 6th, 2014 | Social, Tweens

miley usaThe Tween years are such a bizarre odyssey. There is so much going on inside the raging cauldron of hormones that is a 10-13 year old that it is hard to know what they may say or do or think from one moment to the next. But not only is there the danger of extremes within the life of a single Tween, there is also enormous variation from one Tween to the next. While we can all agree that kids are growing up much faster than they did a generation ago, there is little uniformity in how fast they are developing – physically, mentally, or emotionally. There is no “normal” anymore when it comes to the emotional age of a physically 12-year-old child.

The Miley Cyrus twerking fiasco from a few months back is a great example. It came up in a conversation that I happened to observe between several 12-year-olds in a restaurant recently. Reactions ranged from “Miley Cyrus is great” to “Miley Cyrus is horrible” to “Miley Cyrus used to be great but now she is horrible” to “Who is Miley Cyrus?” – all among putative peers from a reasonably homogeneous cultural, social, geographical, and economic background.

As our children grow into Tweendom and onward toward the teen years, their favorite stars from their favorite childhood shows are also growing up. And let’s face it – not many child stars grow up well. From Justin Bieber’s alcohol and drug-fueled driving menace across Miami to Cyrus’ hideous image and personality changes to everything that Lindsey Lohan has said and done in the past five years to the long, sad litany of former child stars who grew up too fast and too free and turned into pathetic echoes of the potential they once had — the TV and film heroes our kids enjoy today generally turn into the cautionary tales of tomorrow.

Even if your child doesn’t know these stars by name or has an appropriate view of celebrity antics, don’t assume that her friends will see things in the same light. Not even her friends from the parent-approved upper-crust families with good reputations in the community. Not even the good folks you’ve gone to church with every Sunday for the past decade and who teach Sunday School and volunteer at the homeless shelter. You don’t know where other kids’ mindset is on role models until you ask. And ask again because the answer from three months ago may or may not bear any resemblance to their current view. Don’t forget how quickly the world changes for Tweens.

This is not to say that your precious little flower cannot associate with the girl down the street who idolizes Miley Cyrus or Lindsey Lohan or whoever the flavor of the month may be. But you want to be the one to control the conversation, to frame the discussion in a way that makes it clear that the old rules of wrong and right still apply no matter how glamorous the offender or how small the visible consequences are for the rich and famous.

(U.S. Army photo)

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