The “terrible two’s” are nothing compared to the Double-Digit Dischord of a child’s early adolescence. Oh sure, we hear all about how tough it can be to raise a teenager, but I think parents do not mention those “tween” years because they are so traumatized by the conflict , it is just too soon to discuss.
Yes, I am making light of the tendency to attach ideas of conflict with older teens, but research is showing that the traditional teenage years are not when you will have most of your conflict with them (Parent). While it is true that there are various stages in the growth of a child when conflict is likely to occur, it seems unfair not to prepare parents for those years in early adolescence, when you have an opportunity to really set the tone and boundaries.
The research is in: levels of conflict are highest during early the adolescence ages of 10-12 (Parent). I have raised one son. I now have a 9 year old son and an 11 year old daughter to guide into adulthood and responsible independence. This stage we are entering is already showing itself to be difficult at times and it is comforting to know that the conflicts I have already experienced are not necessarily due to previous “mistakes” on my part or exclusively because of a particular temperament that my daughter has always exhibited. The greatest challenge I have with my daughter is instilling a sense of empathy for others. While both my sons seem to have been born equipped with an inherent sense of awareness for others and concern for others, my daughter was not. As it turns out, it might be that my boys were the ones who are exceptions, not my daughter. An organization based in Toronto, Canada actually works with schools to help children understand how to empathize. Leaders at Roots of Empathy base their program on “knowledge of mirror neurons — recently discovered brain cells that some neuroscientists believe to be the mechanism that makes empathy possible.”(Empathy) Although data about our brain’s mirror systems is still being gathered and evaluated, the information that is available so far is enough for this mother to give her daughter a break on the expectation of being considerate of everybody. Instead, I can continue to do my best in guiding her to understand that other people matter, just like she does.
Even before I was a single mother, I questioned whether I was “doing it right” as a parent and every time something went wrong (a bad grade, for example), I struggled against seeing it as proof that I was a terrible mother. Thankfully, I have done some growing of my one while my oldest son did his growing. As I go forward raising the two younger children, I have a much better perspective on my parenting skills and a confidence in my parenting style. Knowing that clashes are a normal part of this growth period have given me even more confidence that issues that arise are not about my parenting, they are about growing up.
My goal as a mother is to guide these...