It was bound to happen. My sweet, docile tween was swapped with a monster with raging testosterone and lots of attitude. Gone is the young boy who used to weave his body around ours in bed in the early hours of the morning just to cuddle or wanted to read National Geographic together. That boy was last seen several months ago, and those signs should have clued me in that  things had changed.

My 12-year-old is quite athletic and packed with muscle, and he's at least four inches taller than me, inching his way up to his dad's height, which probably gives him a false sense of power. He's now got a split personality--one that comes to my rescue when I stub my toe or need help lifting something and another side that hates being told to do his chores or brush his teeth.

There are so many theories out there about how to parent a tween. I choose to follow a combination of old-school and modern tactics to keep myself sane and raise a successful and grounded young man. Here are my five ways of coping with this huge change:

Let your tween know YOU are the parent: I borrow this from my parents. When I was a teenager, I answered my mom with a nasty attitude, sucked my teeth, and walked away rolling my eyes. Guess who chased me and pinched me? Guess who never did that again? I haven't had to resort to going after my son, but as soon as he starts raising his voice to try to win an argument, I know it's time to remind him that I am the parent and that I deserve to be talked to respectfully. I grew up in a rough part of Brooklyn with strict parents who kept me in check, and it worked.

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Give your tween room to grow: I try to keep my tween as close to me as possible, but allowed him to travel with camp to Montreal. We gave him instructions that pretty much let him know this would be his last trip until college if he got into any trouble. Okay, maybe not that drastic, but the idea is that it'd be the last trip in a long time. We praised him for coming back without leaving anything behind and drama-free.

Keep tweens busy: I find that the less time he has on his hands, the less trouble he can get into. It means less time on Facebook or other forms of social media. We keep his schedule busy with baseball, training for a triathlon, and a reading list that minimized computer time.  

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Try to find ways to connect with your tween: I try to keep in tune with the things my son likes. My time is pretty limited, but finding out if Real Madrid won the latest game or keeping up with news about the NY Mets, is really worth it when I can find something to talk about.

Family time is more important than ever: Family dinners and doing activities as a family have become super important. Dinner is our time to discuss our day or current events. Biking has been a good way to exercise and talk side by side.


What are your tips for raising a tween? Did your child become another person overnight or was it a gradual change?

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About the author

Jenny Mero is a NYC-based writer, editor, entrepreneur, & mom. Previously, she was an editor at Selecciones. Before that, she spent five years as a reporter at Fortune magazine. She graduated from Wesleyan University.

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