Parenting A Tween: Peer Pressure
As if carrying our babies in our wombs isn't already hard enough, add on the labor pain and childbirth experience, the sleepless nights,...
As if carrying our babies in our wombs isn't already hard enough, add on the labor pain and childbirth experience, the sleepless nights, the swollen breasts due to feeding and the physical toll on us mothers, Parenting the children is one big task which will be taking over most of their growing up years with our children. That's why it's important to really be intentional and be in tune with our children, no matter how busy we could get.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm humbled to be a mother of two boys with different personalities. I am also proud to have undergone whatever I've experienced and still experiencing with the loves of my life.
My kids are seven years apart, 11 and 4 years old. Sometimes, I'm like a yoyo when I hear myself disciplining the older one, then shifting to a gentler, higher- pitched (and always excited) voice to the little one, when he calls my attention. Parenting two kids of different phases could go crazy. But this time, I'd like to focus on my tween, Dandre who's undergoing some inevitable changes as he is soon to exit the later childhood stage and about to enter the adolescent stage.
My son has been playing basketball since he was six and that's all he wants to focus on until he grows older he said. He studies in a private school and is enrolled in basketball clinics (since he was six) to support his interest in the sport. We live in a residential area in Manila, in one of the busy and crazy barangays with a VERY diverse mix of people and economies. If I keep him very sheltered, I might be depriving him of experiencing the REAL world and learning how to make friends with people from different walks of life.
He's made friends within the neighborhood when I allowed him for the first time to join the barangay league last year. But he was still too young for hardcore street basketball and didn't care much about fitting in the group. But now he's almost 12, fitting in and being liked matter more. Not that he's having a bad experience in this department, but as a parent, I felt the need to give him early warnings, tips, advice, and better understanding about the friendship topic.
I just want to share with you some advice I gave him during our talk
YOU DON'T NEED TO PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE ELSE TO FIT IN.
I told my son that he is special and unique. He is very talented and he's really kind. I also told him the positive things my friends tell me about him when they get to talk to him.
It's really difficult at first to let go of him to make friends in the neighborhood. There were times I would ask him who the parents of his new friends are for me to know where to find him just in case, and for me to also have an opportunity to make new friends with their parents. Not that I wan't to guard him closely, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Now, he is different from his friends and vise versa. So, it's not good to pretend to be someone or make stories about yourself just to be accepted or fit in. There is a pressure nowadays for tweens to be accepted because of society's expectations and dictated standard of "coolness" due to the images the youth portray digitally or in television shows and ads. That he should appreciate the goodness, his individuality and his talents and be proud of what he is. Besides....
REAL FRIENDS WOULD TAKE YOU FOR YOU, NOT FOR WHAT YOU CAN GIVE TO THEM
My son dealt recently with a group of boys his age range who pressured him to give them his snacks he bought using the allowance I leave him with daily. My amiga, who happened to witness it said, my son was left with just a piece of what he bought to eat, he bought 10 pieces in all. My son said, if he didn't give any to them, they call him "madamot!" or selfish. But he is not, and he should know that I told him. The one I cannot accept was when these boys asked my son to bring out a bottle of 1L coke for them, which they saw him drinking in the house of another good friend (son of my amiga). These boys said, if he doesn't do it, they will not let him play basketball in their next game. I cannot believe this is the reality among tweens nowadays. It pains me to let go of him. But he needs to learn and be oriented about how it really is in the outside world. We just have to continuously guide him about these issues and the pressures he's experiencing. He said confidently that he could handle them. I said, I trust you with that, just don't let others abuse your kindness, such as those two incidents. I also reiterated, that REAL friends won't pressure you to give something to them just so you could hang around with them. REAL friends enjoy your friendship and your company, and not the things you are pressured to give to them, just so you could be accepted.
DON'T LET OTHERS LET YOU DO WHAT YOU BELIEVE IS NOT GOOD OR FAIR
Sometimes, people will test you and your values. For boys, they want to test one if he's "ASTIG" enough or COOL enough to belong to their group. We've gone through this when we were younger. Some groups would really test if you're even worthy to be called their "tropa," "barkada," "teammate" or whatever you call it nowadays. I tell my son, to always keep in mind the values we taught him ever since he was younger. To remember that even if we don't see him everyday especially when he's out of the house, God can see him and lets your angel guide you to do what is good all the time. It's up to him to listen to that voice (which is of course his conscience). Always do what he believes is right, is good and is fair. Check yourself if you're hurting someone intentionally, if he's being unkind or unfair, and if he feels bad about his actions, then it just means he needs to correct his doing. If others ask him to do something he thinks is not good, just don't do it. Walk away.
ALWAYS ASK YOUR PARENTS WHEN NOT SURE ABOUT THINGS
Our tweens are physically growing bigger, but they are still babies deep inside. So while we still have an influence over them and while they are still very much dependent on us parents, let's do our best to always be with them, to be interested in their affairs in school with friends and other social activities. Let's fill their love tank and this will help with their self-esteem. It's better to get their self-esteem and be assured of their self-worth at home, from us, than get it from their friends. I always remind my son to always ask us whenever he hears or picks up something he doesn't understand. I cannot control what he learns from outside of the house, but I always assure him he can count on me to answer all his questions. And I really do answer each of his questions, even the difficult ones, like topics on marriage, relationships, physical changes and even sex. I want him to be as open as he can and I make efforts to have an open communication with him, so I would still be able to guide him and at the same time, still have a window to his own life.
No one said that being a parent is an easy job. It isn't. It's challenging but very fulfilling. I just always keep in mind, that I will try my very best to guide and remind him always of the good things and values we teach him. He's his own person already and time will come soon that he will be more independent than he already is now. All I have to do is PRAY for my children, just like what my mom had been doing when we were growing up.