Saturday November 16 2013

On Parenting: Braving the pre-teen years

By Min Atek

Initially, my fears were around how to deal with a child leaving her innocent post infant years as she moves toward her pre-teens. Now, we are past that and what stares in my face and attempts to scare the living lights out of her mother are the looming teen years. Matters are not helped by the fact that everyone I have cared to listen to has emphasised the fact that the teen years are a must hell for every mother. I honestly keep hoping that just like the doomed rumours about the terrible twos, this is not a standard.

First of all, I think I try and remember my own growing up being a pre-teen and then a fully-fledged teenager. I know that indeed the times have changed but someone once said that the more things change the more they don’t change.

My memory fails in some instances, must have been the whole thing of being tasked to cram history, geography, biology, chemistry and physics notes all in one breath before adding music, French and agriculture along with fine art. But I was not such a troublesome teenager. I think.

I went to church for most of my free time and although I had many male friends, I was not the mischief type really. And yet I recall a few times when my mother was exasperated with me and her giving me the dreaded words… “where I am, you will also be one day.”

I keep wondering if she recalls the many times she gave me that line but it sure stuck in my head. So, I look at my own children and fervently pray almost desperately that they will be fine. I honestly pray that they will be normal children, not perfect because that is not good even for them. I pray that they will be friends with each other and I pray that deep within their hearts they will be grounded to the core. I don’t want to police and monitor them every time. I pray and make deliberate effort to raise independent thinkers because I can never be and don’t want to be there all in all.

I look at my pre-teen child and I sympathise with her mood swings while trying to be as understanding as possible. I purpose to be firm but gentle with her delicate spirit. I work at being her mother, loving her through the highs and the lows. I don’t know what the future holds but I sure trust that with God on our side this phase too will pass.