It's normal for tweens to want to spend more time with friends than parents. The good news is that most tweens still do need and want their parents' attention and approval -- just not as much. For you, that means keeping those lines of communication open at all times, in case your tween feels like sharing.
Child development experts offer several tips for staying involved without becoming a helicopter parent:
- Observe your child closely when you pick her or him up from school or the bus stop. Does she look happy? Sad? How is he interacting with his friends? You can get a lot of information this way.
- Make meal time family time. Talk about your day, and put a temporary ban on television and cell phones.
- Be a fly on the wall. If you're driving carpool, unobtrusively listen in on your tween's conversations with friends. You'll get a picture of what's going on in his or her life.
- Take 15 minutes or so at bedtime to read together, or just chat about whatever's on your tween's mind.
Remember, if you're constantly harping on your tween to share with you, chances are he or she will clam up. Your tween may be more apt to open up to you if he or she knows you respect his or her privacy. Giving your tween space shows that you remember what it was like to be that age, and that you understand.
For more about family and tweens, check out the links on the next page.