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Tween Safety: A Case Study

by Ronald A. Rowe | May 22nd, 2013 | Tweens
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mom in carThe first step in keeping your Tween safe is acknowledging that the dangers are real. I took an interesting call last week from a client — weíll call her Katie — that I will share with her permission because I think it well illustrates the tight rope that we must walk as parents.

Katie called me from her car one afternoon to talk about Tween safety. What she actually was calling to talk about was the fact that she was hunkered down in her car spying on her 11-year-old daughter. Weíll call the daughter Sue.

Sue has been wanting to stretch her wings and experience a little more of the freedom that she, as a burgeoning Tween, feels so certain that she deserves. So it was that after much debating, pleading, and arguing Katie agreed to allow Sue to walk the quarter mile from her school to the convenience store unsupervised. After sanctioning the outing, thoughts of the possible consequences haunted Katie all night. Her solution was to surreptitiously observe Sueís pilgrimage from a distance, giving daughter the illusion of freedom while preserving momís secure supervision.

The reason for the in-progress call was that Katie was suffering the pangs of guilt for her subterfuge. Was she right to spy on her daughter, she wondered. Was she being overprotective?

A funny thing happened as Katie poured out her tale of trust versus protection. Sue popped open the back door and hopped in momís car. It turns out that Katie isnít quite cut out to be an international spy. Sue recognized the family car in the lot across the street and derailed Operation Spy On Daughter.

That turned out to be a case of no harm, no foul. Sue got to make the trip to the convenience store with her friend. Even though mom was hanging out on the periphery, she stayed far enough away that daughter enjoyed the freedom she sought. Katie got to keep an eye on things without encroaching on her daughterís social outing.

Allís well that ends well but the lesson learned here is that Tween and parent are often both more willing to compromise than the other realizes. This situation worked out OK but it would have been better to agree on the spy vs spy arrangement beforehand to avoid a potential argument in the end. If we talk with our Tweens and make reasonable accommodations for them to grow into semi-adulthood one step at a time we can make the transition much easier.

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