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10 Things I’d Tell My Best Friend About... Mothering Pre-Teens

It happens faster than you think, says mom and author Emily Hourican.

One day you are wondering how the hell you will get through another rainy afternoon with a box of Play-doh and a scratchy DVD of The Lion King, the next they are asking can they go to Cula and stay out ‘til 10pm. And they’re still only 12.

1. There's Nothing Cutesy About It

Just because it has the diminutive suffix attached – 'pre-', don’t assume there is anything cutesy or reduced about the pre-teen years. For some kids, this phase is actually worse than official adolescence – unexpected and totally overwhelming.

READ ALSO: 10 Things I’d Tell My Best Friend About… Other Mothers

2. It’s Not Just All In The Mind

My own mother didn’t believe in adolescence. She thought it was something made up by the media. Then three of us turned into teenagers overnight, one after another, and she realised, if anything, that the media had played it down. Those hormones are real. But, they are also unpredictable…

3. There's No One Way To Pre-Teen

Some kids will act out, blowing a gasket over the slightest thing and flouncing off shouting ‘I didn’t ask to be born…’ Others will become quiet and introverted. They are all in the grip of the same biological imperative.

4. It’s Worse For Them

It really is. We might have to deal with the fall-out – the tantrums, unreasonable demands, boundary-pushing – but they are the ones going through the terrifying process of change. If we think it takes us by surprise, imagine how they feel? Suddenly, they are awkward, self-conscious, sweaty, uncertain. They don’t quite know what they want anymore – they just know they want something else, something different, something more than we are ready to allow them. It’s tough. Be kind.

READ ALSO: 10 things I’d tell my best friend about going back to work

5. Welcome To The Cult Of Friends

It’s not about you any more, it’s about their pals. All that adoration they used to shower on you, or their dad, will now be aimed at some guy call ‘Derm,’ who can do 200 keepie-uppies, or a girl with particularly shiny hair who knows where to buy cheap nail polish. Accept it, bide your time. Your moment will come again.

6. If They Are Boys, They Will Start To Smell

Maybe if they are girls, too. This is a hard moment. Your adorable sweet-scented baby and child is suddenly emitting whiffs of pheromone and their shoes need a special home built for them outside the back door. Take a deep breath, buy some deodorant, and be ready to remind them they need to shower a lot more often.

7. Your Relationship Will Change

At the same time, you will morph from simply their mother, into a strange and embarrassing person who must at all costs be kept away from their friends lest you do or say something to mortify them. They will roll their eyes in mortification every time you open your mouth, and God help you if you make a joke…

8. You Don’t Understand

Whatever it is, you don’t understand. You don’t understand them, their world, the expectations surrounding them, what they feel or why they do what they do. No matter how much you try and tell them you’ve been there, you know what it’s like, they will look at you with pity and disbelief. There is no point trying to weather this thing on the basis of sharing your own experiences. You. Don’t. Understand.

READ ALSO: 10 Things I’d tell my best friend about… maternal guilt

9. Perhaps They're Right?

Maybe we really don’t understand. Their world is very different to the one we grew up in, with different pressures and expectations. Maybe they really do know it better than we do – some of it anyway. There is no harm in being guided by them to some extent. Try and get them to explain a little bit of what goes on in their social lives and what it means. But maybe don’t start conversations with a cheery ‘so, this sexting stuff, what’s that all about?’

10. They Need To Do This

It’s painful, but necessary. This is the beginning of the process of growing up and away from us. The bonds of childhood need to be loosened, and there is no easy way of doing it. And remember — it’s still all to play for. If we do this bit right and don’t alienate them, they will come back to us; a little different, a lot more independent, but they will come back.

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About the Author

Journalist, author & mother of 3. Here to give us an honest insight into family life. 
 

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