Those tween years of 8-14 can really be difficult to navigate, for both parent and child! I know that I have often wondered myself, “where has my sweet little baby gone?”. We can all see and understand the physical changes happening at this age, but it is the emotional changes that really throw us for a loop. Or at least they throw ME for a loop! That is why I was so excited for the opportunity to read and review No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope from Great Waters Press.

Authors Hal and Melanie Young guide us on this challenging journey through these critical years of parenting. The book is full of personable stories of their experiences with the own children going through the tween years. And let me tell you, they are SPOT ON! As I read through the book, I found myself nodding several times. These were the exact things that are going on in our house right now, it was as if they could see into our home and were writing just for us! Not only do they tell about their own experiences, but they explain WHY these behaviours and feelings are happening, and how we can cope and help our children (and ourselves) through this difficult time of transitioning, of being “No Longer Little”.

As you can see from the table of contents below, they don’t skip out on anything. From Getting Bigger, to Brains Turning to Mush, from Social Struggles, to Media and Gaming, and Conflict At Home. Hal and Melanie cover all of the topics that we are struggling to make sense of.

They remind us that we aren’t alone in this, and that our children aren’t the only ones that seem to have gone completely bonkers at this age.
Does this sound familiar at all:

“We were convinced our son was brilliant, homeschooling was great,

and really, our parenting and teaching skills were awesome, too. Yes,

sir, life was sweet.

Then he turned nine, and the wheels fell off the train.

That year, school fell apart. Math was an all-day ordeal. Often, it

seemed, it was the only thing we got done. Everything he did took

forever, and he was constantly getting distracted.”

I had a similar experience with my son in our homeschool. He has become easily distracted and simple tasks dragged on and took forever! Hal and Melanie give an explanation as to why this happens, and it’s no ones fault.

Or how about this scenario:

“Son, go get me my keys,” one of us would tell him. The car keys were

always left on top of the microwave oven in the kitchen. No variation.

Forty-five minutes later, we’d find him wandering aimlessly around

the house. His shades were up, but no one was home.”

There have been SO MANY times when I would ask my child to do something, and the response would be “okay, just a minute”. And then 20 minutes later I’d go back and ask why he hadn’t done the task. I’d get a blank stare, and he didn’t even remember being asked in the first place. This was always so baffling to me, and frustrating!

It just can’t be helped. Hal and Melanie reassure us that this is a normal occurrence:

“During puberty, the part of the brain changing the most is the area

that controls executive functions. These are tasks like problem

solving, priority setting, short term memory, attention, and focus.

This is the center of common sense and good judgment, the part

which decides, “This thing—Good idea? Bad idea?”   ……

Neurologists say that during early adolescence, these parts of the

brain actually unravel; there truly is a temporary loss of function

as the neurons re-assemble into their adult configurations.”

Well, it all makes much more sense now doesn’t it?! They give some great advice and tips for coping through this stage, but of course there is no “cure” and we just have to do our best to be understanding and supportive of our children as they make this confusing transition from child to teenager.

If you’ve ever secretly thought to yourself “what has happened to my child!?”, I highly recommend that you read No Longer Little: Parenting Tweens with Grace and Hope. It is available as either an ebook or a printed copy from Great Waters Press. I’d suggest the printed copy so that you can keep it with you wherever you are, to re-read over each chapter as they come up in your own child’s life. Even if we can’t “fix” the tween years, this book is like a comforting hug to help us to help our children get through this stage with as much grace and hope as possible.