Monday, February 25, 2013

Why I Don't Like The Word "Tween"

I have four children and by today's terminology, two of them would be a "tween" and one of them would turn a "tween" on her next birthday.
My oldest non-tween
 Tween is a relatively new term- it wasn't used when I was growing up. A tween is someone who is between the ages of 8-12 (give or take) years of age.
According to Jennifer O'Donnell of About.Com a "tween" is
"Children between the ages of 9 and 12. These youngsters are no longer little kids, but they're not yet teenagers." -Understanding Today's Tweens 
Now, I know some of you may be thinking that I am just in denial over the growing up of my children. And while that may be partially true, it has nothing to do with my dislike of the word.
We live in a world that is constantly pushing the children to grow up. It's apparent in our public schools where they are being taught in Kindergarten things that weren't taught until the 2nd (or later) grades just decades ago. It's apparent in our clothing stores where the fashions do not say "little girl" or even "young lady" anymore. Technology has honed in on this and that is why you have 8 or 9 year olds walking around with their very own cell phone, iPod, and Kindle Fires! Now... let me just clarify- if you, as a parent, feel that you child needs a cell phone- fine- but in a lot of cases there isn't really a need, but a want (from the child). Again, this is fine, but the fact remains- our children (yours and mine) are living in a world that pushes them to grow up faster. Most kids don't know what it's like to go outside and play with only your imagination (and siblings). Most kids don't know what life is like to live in carefree and worry-free!
We've somehow managed to rob our children of their childhood.
And by using the term "tween" we continue to do so!
My second oldest non-tween
It gives them a label. A teen gets to do "x, y, and z" because they are a teen. I get to do "x, y, and z" because I am a tween. The "x, y, and z" can range in attitude and behavior to privileges the child feels they ought to have.
Case in point, in the above article, the author even states that one thing to expect from a tween is s/he to be self-absorbed!
In Changing Tween Values things such as clothing is addressed. I want to know why tweens are allowed to dress like teens! Or why some teens dress so poorly. Hello? Aren't we still the parents???
No. No. And NO!
This past Christmas we were invited to the public school's elementary Christmas singing. In the 4th grade class, half of the girls there had on visible makeup. Now, tell me why any 9 or 10 year old needs to wear makeup?
It starts small.... it always does. And using the word "tween" may seem small to some, but to me it's huge and a word I refuse to use.
"They're kids for a shorter period of time," adds psychologist Frank Gaskill, who also works with tweens in Charlotte. "More is expected of them academically, responsibility-wise." -USA TODAY- It's cooler than ever to be a tween, but is childhood lost?
But why???
Pre-teen is a far better option. Pre simply means "before" and well, "before teenager" is accurate. It simply describes an era- but certainly not beginning at age 8 or 9! A pre-teen might be 11-12 years old, but even then we should be careful when using labels to describe an age frame. Even better than pre-teen (or even teen), why not encourage lovely behavior by young girls or young ladies?
Teach and expect characters that don't give in to labels such as "toddler", "tween", or "teen". Allow them not to feel pushed or pulled into one age group or another. Give your child plenty of time to live carefree and worry-free!
For the record, my oldest turns 10 in April and prefers playing with baby dolls and watching Little House on the Prairie. Everything I've seen that talks about "tweens" doesn't fit her. I am in no hurry for her to grow up and I will not push her into her teen years any quicker than is necessary.
No, I do not have any one that is in between childhood and teens. I simply have four kids who are growing up too fast for mama. I refuse to label my older children as tweens- or teens for that matter once they reach that age-, instead, they are turning into lovely young girls!
How do you feel about the word "tween"?


Becky said...

Great article and I agree 100% . My young girls are 10, 13, 14 years old I have one married and has made me a nanaw! My girls still play together with there dolls they don't wear make up I don't very often the cows on the farm just don't appraise church I see the way moms allow their teens and younger to dress and it saddens me. We are suppose to be set apart so the world can see a difference but that's not the way with most girls these days...

Kathie Morrissey said...

I totally agree with this!! Our kids are being pushed to grow up way too fast, and are missing out on so much that we enjoyed in our "childhood". Thanks for linking up with us at Courtship Connection!

Naomi@What Joy Is Mine said...

Erika....we've never had a tween in our house. Just boys, girl, young lady, young men, and man (one of our boys is 23). They really grow up fast enough on their own and its sad the way the world pushes kids to act older than they are. Great post. Glad you shared it at WJIM.

Tina Hollenbeck said...

Amen! My girls are in the age range, but we do not use the word "'tween" and never will. We also do not and will not use the word "teen" - for the very same reasons you state. In fact, that is a social construct as well, starting after WWII and the James Dean "Rebel without a Cause" era. It's all garbage. My girls are beautiful young ladies and will continue as such until they're beautiful young women. Some may just consider it semantics, but words matter; if we call our girls "young ladies," that is how they'll behave. If we let them be "'tweens," we'll get the expected behavior from that group. No thanks; not here.


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