I had coffee with a friend yesterday who is also a Mum to a 12-year-old tween daughter.
At one point, we both sighed and agreed that, oh my goodness, raising a tween girl is hard. And honestly, there’s not that much advice out there about parenting a tween girl.
Babies? There’s advice everywhere. But I think as parents we become more circumspect as our children grow older, and we know they don’t want us asking on Twitter how other parents deal with measuring girls for their first bra.
(Actually, Flea might kill me just for typing that sentence. Last week we were in a store and I said, “Let me go look at the bra section” and she gave me a look that wished for my instant death).
As your daughter approaches the teen years, your life will become a balancing act. On the one hand, you’re all about protecting their fragile self-esteem from a brutal world of social media that demands perfection. And on the other hand you’re just wishing they could put a bowl in the blinking sink once in a while.
You will nag in a way you never imagined possible before. You’ll worry that they’re being bullied, or bullying someone. Are they in their room watching harmless YouTube videos? Or are they self-harming and drinking from a secret stash of alcohol? Because the newspapers are keen to let you know THAT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.
Anyway, before I sink myself into another neurotic wormhole of All The Terrible Things that could be happening to my child, I thought I’d share something more cheerful. Yes friends, today I am sharing my 10 favourite things about having a 12 year old. Feel free to share your own tween parenting triumphs in the comments.
10 Reasons to Love Parenting Tween Girls
Relax with Reduced Fashion Choices
Remember those days when you looked at all your shoes and thought, “What shall I wear today?” \
Well, congratulations, you can wave goodbye to that problem. Because 85% of your shoes are now in your daughter’s room. You now have a choice of wearing slippers, those slightly questionable trainers you bought for walking the dog, or your oldest pair of Converse.
This saves SO much time when getting ready in the morning. I just have to suppress the urge to make a snarky comment when Flea arrives at the car wearing my new Vans trainers.
Enjoy Increased Fashion Certainty
You know what it’s like when you get something in a new colour, or a slightly bolder pattern than you’d usually wear. Can you carry it off?
If you have a 12-year-old, worry no more. Because you definitely, categorically, 100 percent can NOT carry it off.
Flea now has perfected a quick up-and-down glance at any new outfit and will either say, “You look really nice,” or the slightly more brutal, “No, Mum”.
Although this pales into insignificance next to a Twitter friend who told me that their tween came into a room to find his Mum wearing a new coat. “You look like a clown,” he said, before turning heel and walking out.
Try to view this as helpful to your life and not just incredibly rude. It helps. A bit.
Wield Unimaginable Power over your Tween
There’s a slightly scary moment as your daughter gets older where they’re about to realise they don’t actually HAVE to do what you say.
You might worry that you’re able to lose your parental authority. But don’t worry because the universe provides, in the form of your child’s crippling social embarrassment.
I have discovered that I can basically get my tween daughter to do anything I want by simply suggesting I might quite like to:
- Make a loud parrot noise in public
- Take her to McDonalds and then do a car dance while at the ordering window
- Dance in any place where any other living person might see me
As with all great powers, it’s important to use this responsibility and not waste this power on frivolities. Like making your child promise to make you a coffee and bring it to you with 2 chocolate Hob Nobs after a particularly chilly school run. For example.
Your Tween Daughter Needs Endless Sleep
When you have a tween daughter, you can finally lie in as long as you want to on the weekends. Because it turns out that – left to their own devices – your average 12-year-old will sleep for at least 16 hours a day.
Just don’t do anything stupid like encouraging them to join a sports team that plays matches on weekend mornings. Oh, hang on…
You’ve Won Your Freedom from Build a Bear
I think if there’s one thing I love most about Flea being 12, it’s that I never again have to go into a Build a Bear Workshop and pretend to be delighted that I’m stuffing my own soft toy before paying for it.
And then having to get a second mortgage so the aforementioned bear can have its own outfit, and skateboard, and sun glasses, and hat, and goodness only knows what else. A close second is knowing there’s no more soft play. Although that’s tinged with the fact that I secretly loved soft play when I got to go on the equipment and play for a bit.
The flip side is that you now have to risk injury trying to fumble your way through Hollister. Oh, and there’s the special joy of having random physical contact with 75 strangers every time you enter a Lush store. But I’d still rather this than having to find space to stick yet another Bear Birth Certificate on the fridge.
They’ve Got Spare Supplies
Now I have a tween daughter, it’s a bit like having an emergency branch of Superdrug in the house. When I run out of deodorant, there’s a spare one just next door. Concealer? That too.
I also basically have two sock drawers, although I have had to work on my poker face when Flea spots that I’m wearing her socks and I have to try and convince her that she is entirely mistaken. #FutureOscarWinner
Tweens Can Do Waitress Service
If you have a tween daughter, then you need never make coffee again. My 12 year old can make me coffee, and she’s also proficient at toast, crumpets and finding my favourite biscuits.
Just don’t ruin everything by looking at the kitchen counter tops afterwards, because while Flea knows how to make coffee, she doesn’t know how not to also sprinkle coffee liberally around the kitchen in the process.
They are Your Back Up Eyes
If you’ve got a 12 year old, you’re probably in (or approaching) your 40s. At the grand old age of 43, I’ve realised I basically need my tween daughter to read the instructions on moisturiser, hair conditioner, most medicines, and occasionally my own phone.
Of course I don’t need glasses. I’m STILL YOUNG AND VIABLE.
Tweens Make Perfect Sofa Buddies
Finally, I have someone who loves those cheesy Netflix shows as much as I do. Having a tween daughter means the perfect opportunity to watch box set classics like Glee, Vampire Diaries and Gilmore Girls all over again.
But we also bond over new shows – recently we’ve binged on Everything Sucks. And we do have a passion for America’s Next Top Model.
Bribing Tweens is Fun for the Whole Family
When it’s cold and raining, your 12 year old can be bribed into walking the dog for you in exchange for a £3 addition to her Go Henry card.
I don’t like to think of it as cheap labour. I prefer to think of it as “nurturing my child’s burgeoning independence”. This also applies when I give my tween the gift of walking to the shop for me to get me chocolate when I’ve got PMS.