September 24, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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Did you know the new preteens are 4th & 5th graders? Let’s invest in these kids before they go off to middle school. Together, we’ve got this!
When embarking on a journey to start a family, conversations may often veer toward discussing those “terrific twos,” more commonly known as the “terrible twos,” but did anyone ever prepare for the “terrible tweens?” No, not twins . . . tweens. Twin toddlers may even be easier to deal with than having today’s tweens in the house.
Tweens are kids between the ages of 9 and 12 years old. They are preteens—and boy are they! Tweens are trying to figure out that space between leaving childhood and entering adolescence. They’re still very much a child but with flaring hormones and pressure, as well as the desire to belong and grow up fast. Your tween needs you more than ever! A lot is going in the life of your preteen physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Tweens change and develop in significant ways. Their thinking patterns and mental abilities go through major developments. Their personalities, character traits, and worldviews are being formed and molded for life—and we want you to play a major role in helping to shape your child’s worldview. You’re the most influential person in the life of your child. Don’t miss this opportunity during their critical preteen years!
We could talk for a while about all the various challenges and changes going on with your tween—and they’re a lot—but the basics of what your child needs remain the same. Your tween needs safety and security—the safety and security that only you can provide. Tweens need your time, both intentional and undivided. They need your grace, as they crave your affirmation. They need you; they need to know you are for them. Your preteen also needs to see you model your family values, healthy relationships, boundaries with your time and social media, and, most of all, what a relationship with Jesus looks like.
Tweens need lots of laughter and playtime, much like when they were a terrific two-year-old. They need to have fun . . . with YOU! They will thrive from your playfulness, humor, and affection.
Preteen daughters need hugs and physical affection from their fathers during a time when some men may not feel comfortable with this due to the physical development that may be emerging. Some men shy away at this point; however, these young preteen girls need to find fulfillment in this area from their fathers and not from other men as they grow into teenagers. Physical affection from their fathers will give them a much-needed sense of security.
Along with their need for security, tweens today need their parents to provide a sense of structure and consistency for them. Preteens have a higher amount of anxiety, depression, isolation, and loneliness than ever before. Order and structure—even though they may roll their eyes and huff and puff at our efforts to provide this—are actually calming to the chaos that’s taking place in the brains of tweens.
Structure can be as simple as having family meals around the table at a specific time on certain evenings, a limited amount of time on social media or their phones, a consistent bedtime, or daily or evening devotions. It’s not rocket science; a small habit can help form structure. Making the bed every morning is a great place to start. Have you ever heard the saying, “The state of your bed is the state of your head.”? Your tween will benefit from coming home to an organized peaceful room.
So, what’s the bottom line to all of this? The tween years are paramount and choosing to be intentional now will be an enormous blessing over the years to come, both for you and for them.
It’s easy to just go through the motions and float through one day into the next. It’s not as easy to be consistent, especially with preteen emotions and hormones flaring. However, we need to start somewhere to provide this nonnegotiable element that will provide security in the lives of our tweens. It’s so critically important for us to look beyond their behavior and love them where they are. We need to love and guide them when they need it the most, and that’s usually when it’s the most challenging to do so.
These are the years. These are the good old days. Don’t miss out. The days are long, but the years are short. Be who they need you to be. Be who the Lord has called you to be for the children He has entrusted to you. Be their personal sounding board. Demonstrate radical love to your preteens. Model what an authentic relationship with Jesus looks like! Model prayer and reading the Bible. Teach them now to know how to read the Word and spend time with God for themselves on their own, cultivating their own relationship with the Lord.
One final thing: If you don’t know how to connect to your child’s love language, we recommend you order a copy of the book The Five Love Languages of Teenagers today! You’ll be glad you did. And as always, know that we are here for you! Together, we’re better. Don’t be a stranger and check out our website CalvaryFTL.org/Parenting for more resources.