The Parenting Mistake I Wish I Could Redo

The preschool years were tough. Every day was SO lonnnnnggggg. No time for showers, no sleep at night. That depression diagnosis sent me down a deep, dark hole I didn’t think I’d ever escape.

So, when my oldest started school, I could breathe … a little. They were bathing themselves, brushing their own teeth (greatest gift EVER) and I was thinking … Aaaahhh, I survived. I actually started painting my toenails again.

Then, I got lazy. Or, I just didn’t know what to do next.

Fourth grade hit. Questions, asked in innocence, about sex, drugs and bad words started flying. I even had to Google some of them (ex. Meow Meow drug she learned about at recess).

I knew I had missed something as a mom. The tween years hit, and I wasn’t prepared. It’s the parenting mistake I wish I could redo.

Most people define the tween group around ages 8-12. Here are four things I wish I had done differently:

When my child was between the ages of 5-7, I would’ve read these books by Dannah Gresh:

“Six Ways to Keep the ‘Little’ in your Girl” and “Six Ways to Keep the ‘Good’ in your Boy”

I would’ve created more open communication.

I would’ve set a precedent in my family that it’s a safe place for any topic of discussion, especially starting in kindergarten. Talk about everything with no embarrassment. Now, we have a set time at dinner for our conversations. It has become routine. No technology. TV is off. Here are some starter questions:

  • Did you hear any new words that you don’t know the meaning of?
    (*Don’t freak out if you get the F-bomb. Calmly explain what it means and that it’s a word we don’t use.)
  • What made you happy, sad, excited or scared today?
  • Was there any drama?
  • Who got in trouble?

Nothing is off-limits. Here’s our only rule: what is SAID at the dinner table, STAYS at the dinner table.
image13I would’ve set technology standards before the tween years.

I would’ve set parental controls when they started using technology. That way, it’s common practice to need a password for sites. Apple products offer great parental restrictions. Go to Settings/General/Restrictions, “Enable Restrictions” — you can set your music to clean (instead of explicit), PG for movies, etc.

For social media, I would’ve specified the rules before she asked. Most social media sites are prohibited for kids under 13, but most of them do not ask for a birthdate when opening an account.

I would’ve built a bigger support group of other tween parents.

There are many times I’ve felt like I’m the only mom saying “no.” It helps to know I’m not alone. Build a community of moms you trust. Have a mentor with grown children (who turned out great) and call them for advice.

I’ve started a group called “MomTalk” in San Antonio. We also have a closed Facebook group (so you don’t have to be in my town to be involved). Comment below with your email address for additional information.

 **This has been approved by my tween. I don’t share anything about her without her permission.

Now, it’s your turn. What else would you recommend to prepare for the tween years?