Read stories about families like yours living with a tween. They will make you laugh and inspire you with creative problem solving and relationship building solutions.
Last week I waited with families at the airport for our collective “summer vacation.” Flat screens flashed red headlines, scores of bodies laid lifeless while sirens screeched from emergency vehicles. A summer of peace and reprieve was not to be. The violence ruined our joy, disturbed our souls. The nonstop coverage seemed inescapable.
I asked parents, tweens and teens near me how they felt. The parents’ answers went beyond the need and desire to keep their children safe. Everyone was scared. Since Sandy Hook, one family started bringing their comfort dog to Vets, another volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and one eighth grader serves as peer mediator at her school.
Everyone was eager to be heard, to express their feelings. We listened to each other and then went our separate ways. I felt better after being listened to and I felt understood. We need more of this.
Your pacifist friend,
Parents don’t get a report card. Yet every summer I make time to think about what worked and didn’t during the previous school year.
Last year, I felt overwhelmed by Kevin’s weekly Tuesday-Newsday fourth grader folder. I poured over it, examined every graded assignment, and signed the required paperwork long after I’d tucked him in bed. It was time consuming and I ended up with more concerns rather than feeling satisfied. The following morning, I’d asked Kevin endless questions. He’s not a morning person, so it didn’t go well for either of us.
I decided that for this coming school year, Kevin’s going to pick three papers each week. Rather than bombarding him with questions, I’ll guide him to talk about what made each fun, interesting or hard; and what he’s proudest of, if he can spell a word he got wrong, or how he can apply what he’s learned. As he narrates his week and work, he will gain ownership and confidence. We’ll carve out a time after dinner for the two of us to connect each Tuesday.
My sixth grader, Sarah, gets anxious about school. I always tried to prepare her to assuage her worries. Still, she was unsure. My attempts to manage the information never panned out for her emotionally.
I decided it will benefit her more if she does the delving this year. She agrees that once she picks up her schedule, she will visit each teachers’ website to get the syllabus, learn the projects and the grading system. In addition, she’ll find out things like the reading list, additional school supplies, and some personal things about each teacher. She’ll email them if she has questions. By taking the initiative and getting her questions answered, she’ll be more confident and sure. As she shares the information with me, she is the expert. After all, it’s her sixth grade year to learn, live, and manage. I’ll still be there to support and listen to her.
Finally, the after school activities needed to be tweaked. I’m committed to family dinner together five nights a week as well as music lessons, sports and scouts. We’ve started collaborating as a family so everyone has a say and a stake in the plan. My kids make suggestions and find ways to make things work that amaze me. They think differently!
I feel that these changes will make next year better for everyone. Next time we’ll talk about re-entry: preparing for the first week of school.