When your tween calls you a loser, it might be a sign that the child worries about being considered a loser as well. Tweens desperately want their peers to like and approve of them. They may fear that if their parents stand out, their friends will hold it against them. They may compare you to their friends' parents and think that you're noticeably different -- older, younger, single, married, clunky car, strange hobbies -- and different equals bad at this age. Remember that kids can be cruel to one another. They're quick to point out and make fun of mistakes or anything that doesn't conform to the norm.
It doesn't help that many movies, TV shows and books depict parents as clueless and bumbling. Even if you're a perfectly competent adult, your tween may think you're a loser. It's all part of what enables him to become a mature individual.
There are things you can do to make life more pleasant, however.
- Be a parent, not a pal. Your tween has friends; he or she needs someone to set rules and limits. Accept that you're not always going to be considered cool.
- Compromise when you can. Tweens want to feel that they have some input. If your tween daughter thinks your family activities are for losers, let her choose an outing. Or understand that she won't want to be with you as much as before, and let her sometimes do something with her friends instead.
- Minimize the embarrassing times. If you help with a school event, stay away from your child's group. Become a little less involved in your child's activities, at least in a noticeable way. Let your child handle more of his or her own problems with teachers and other adults. As your child gets older, give him more freedom, especially if he's with friends. If you go to the mall, agree to keep in touch by cell phone and to meet at a certain place and time.
- Insist on respect. Let your child express differing opinions and comment on your dress, activities and ways of doing things. But insist that he or she do so politely. Point out rudeness and explain why it bothers you. It's one thing to tell you that you need to learn how to use your cell phone correctly, but it's entirely another to call you an idiot.
- Keep your cool. You might joke about how you embarrass your daughter. If she says only a loser would buy those shower shoes, laugh it off and tell her that she'd better watch out, or you might wear them to her dance recital. The best thing about tweens if that they eventually mature. If you've handled the phase wisely, you'll get your agreeable offspring back.
Keep reading for lots for information on parenting tweens.