Tweens are caught between childhood and young adulthood. They live in that hormone soaked space between the worlds of simple fun and the social meat-grinder known as Junior High.
It’s scary stuff to walk from class as a sixth or seventh grader, knowing everything you are and have is about to be reviewed, analyzed – assessed and mocked by the “big” kids. Getting up and getting ready goes from grabbing the clothes off the floor and a pop-tart; to setting the alarm an hour early to start working on their hair, matching wardrobe and a desperate need to catch up on all the latest mobile electronic chatter. Each morning tweens step into a dark world that’s totally unpredictable…and intensely cruel, especially to anyone who dares to be or live “different”.
Tweens get complicated… the social pressures grow like a late summer hurricane until you may find yourself having a bi-polar chat with your 12-year-old! It’s disturbing to a parent to have such a discussion…one that alternates between the infantile fears of not leaving their room without turning on a light…. to the haughty sneers of a late adolescent. Dueling word wars erupt with their sarcastic intolerance of your aged presence, offended at everything…daring you to intrude into their private lives, like a trip to crazy town!
At the root of all this chaos and confusion is FEAR.
Deep anxiety and convoluted apprehensions rule about most everything in a tweens life. Fears as vast as and distant as global warming to the mundane….like forgetting their locker combination at school or missing the next audition for drama class.
Tweens are drowning in a host of normal and abnormal fears threatening to crash their lives before they ever get going, anxiety and misgivings force most tweens to avoid even “trying” to step into something new or different.
Their fragile identities slowly fracturing as they bounce from one popular group of kids to another, trying to decide if they “fit” in that group or maybe another one ? Are they athletic… or smart, pretty or preppy? Are they moody and artistic, should they try out for band or stick solidly in the “in-between” world of not belonging to anything – undefined and aloof.
Deep down, most tweens are afraid to move… afraid to be rejected one more time.
It’s into these lives parents need to step firmly in and make a decisive difference! We must show our tweens how awesome they really are!
Whitewater rafting is the cure. Seriously… grab your tween and a few of their friends (or youth group) and head for the river. It’s a little frightening, even scary at the beginning, but the thrill of overcoming something new and different and a little dangerous… is the KEY INGREDIENT in helping your tween discover how strong they really are.
Each summer we have a few weeks to re-confirm and re-establish our tweens identities! We must speak, courage and hope and strength into their ever evolving lives!
Don’t let the coach, or art director or agnostic educators shape and mold your kids hearts in the day to day. We have a vital window of opportunity each year to speak LIFE into our children, to put an underlined – bold font – italicized exclamation mark on their unique and amazing lives, providing the lift they need to meet the coming year head on.
Worried a little bit about your tween, it may be time to consider something radical ?
It may be time to take them whitewater rafting and let them sit in the front…watch them grow exponentially as they transition from apprehensive hesitation to excited and triumphant in just a matter of hours on the water!
Watch as your slumped tween emerges from the raft soaking wet and wildly exuberant with new life, crackling with new-found confidence!
It’s amazing how much a little “nudge” in the right direction at the “right” time can help them “overcome” all kinds of fears.
GO OUT, GET AWAY from the safe and predictable and expose your tweens to the beauty and awe of God’s creation. Find out together what you can do !
I Dare ya ! Pastor B.
PS – I’m not saying that rafting will cure everything or replace the role of faith and personal devotion in a tweens growth, but dang it…it’s awesome and freaking fun :)