We all know about the turbulence of the adolescent years – almost an adult, separation, curfews, colleges, etc. The teen years get all of the glory, but what about the pre-teen years, also called the “tween” years?
For adoptive parents, this is the time to explore and address unfinished business, with the kids, with the family. This is the time to lay the groundwork. The homework battles, the disrespectful attitude, the separation issues, the school issues, and your relationship with them. What’s working, what’s not? Are there times when you want to feel like an empowered parent, but don’t? What fears are getting in the way of doing what you know is right?
This is a window of opportunity, because for the most part, you still have some level of influence and control over their schedule and life decisions. You have a hand in their activities, who their friends are, what’s going on at school, etc. Usually this is a time when the safety issues are not as palpable as they are in high school when you get into bigger responsibility and higher stakes.
Also, if there’s anything that you haven’t told your tween about their birth story or their birth parent – any information from their file, etc., the tween years are a good time to have that conversation. I know that it may seem too soon, and of course, each person’s situation is different, but I also know that the risks of not telling them are high. Once adopted kids turn into teens, often, the family stability goes out the window. They know precious little to nothing about their history, their beginnings, it can be upsetting for them to think that you were withholding information from them. Their story is all that they have. They have a right to know what you know about their life. After all, it’s already happened. You can’t protect them from their past. You can safeguard your relationship, though and that can make all the difference as they move into adolescence.