Moms' Ultimate Guide to the Tween Girl World
- Thursday, July 29, 2010
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Moms' Ultimate Guide to the Tween Girl World by Nancy Rue (Zondervan).
Why Do I Need an Ultimate Guide?
If you ask a seven-year-old girl what she would like to have on her pizza, she will undoubtedly tell you. In detail. Leaving nothing to chance lest she should be confronted with something gross and disgusting and icky. Ewww. If you ask a twelve-year-old girl what she would like to have on her pizza, she will more than likely roll her eyes or stuff her hair behind her ears or make some other pubescently awkward gesture and say, "I don't know." Or, perhaps the more hip version: "Whatever."
If you ask a sixteen-year-old girl what she would like to have on her pizza, she will probably give you the now-polished version of that same gesture and say, "What would you like to have on our pizza?"1
What happens to girls between the ages of eight and twelve? Before they hit that pivotal period, they were so sure of who they were and what they wanted and didn't hesitate to tell you whether you wanted to hear it or not. What goes on in those five years? What makes sweet little baby girlfriends gradually lose their minds and become teenagers who, despite their show of independence, can't choose a pizza topping without taking a poll of their peers?
What happens is tween-hood. It isn't the innocent early childhood that, tantrums and potty training notwithstanding, was relatively easy to understand. And it isn't adolescence which nobody understands, though some misguided souls have tried.
This age eight-to-twelve period in our daughters' lives didn't even have a name until about ten years ago when the advertising world came up with the term tween. It's clever, but it implies that its members are merely sandwiched between two more important and infinitely more interesting stages of their lives. Freudian psychologists even used to call it "the latent period," and unfortunately a lot of people still see it that way. Tweens are old enough to take themselves to the restroom and, speaking of sandwiches, make their own, but we don't yet have to worry about them wrecking the family car or piercing their tongues.
Nice. Let's take a rest period before your household turns into WWE.
If you were one of those people who thought that, you wouldn't have picked up this book. I'm betting that you're a mom who knows her daughter is not just "latent," or simply "between" one thing and another, or silently gearing up to drive you nuts the minute she turns thirteen. You know that she:
- may or may not brush her hair on a regular basis, but she already knows that what she looks like makes a difference in how people treat her.
- is in possession of a body that's changing right before her eyes, or is wondering why hers isn't changing when "everybody else's" is.
- would almost lay down her life, or at least her favorite hoodie, for that center of her universe, the BFF (for the uninitiated, that's Best Friend Forever).
- will probably roll her eyes right up into her head if you say to her, "Just be yourself and you'll be fine," because she's discovering that who she thought "herself" was is now in question.
That's your tween girl — a rapidly transforming mini-woman, if you will. And yet like all human beings in transition, she's not on a linear track. Have you noticed that:
- one day she wants no part of your advice, and the next she's in your lap begging for help?
- one hour she's playing dress-up with her little sister, and the next she has a sign on her door that reads NO SIBLINGS ALLOWED?
- one minute she wants to operate the stove or the ATV or the chain saw, and the next she's afraid to ask a waiter for a glass of water?
- one second she's asking you to drop her at the corner so her friends won't see what you're wearing (Mo-om!), and the next she wants to borrow that cool necklace you just bought?
- one nano-second she doesn't get why you won't let her stay alone in the house at night and the next she's climbing into your bed, convinced the Boogie Man is alive and well and headed down the hall?
Her world is exciting and confusing, inside and out, and it's made more so by the society she lives in. That is probably one of the biggest reasons you've opened this book. You know that as a Millennial (born between 1982 and 2002) your mini-woman is growing up far differently than you did. The average tween girl today:
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