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Grandparenting Tweens

Loving Your Preteen Grandchild



Family celebrations are especially fun with tween grandchildren.

Photo © S. Adcox

We used to call them preteens, which made them sound sort of like little ladies and gents in waiting. Today we are more likely to call them tweens, which more aptly describes their position poised between childhood and adolescence. No matter what we call them, children between the ages of 9 to 12 are truly special and fun to grandparent.

Why Tweens Need Their Grandparents

Their social lives are changing.
In the tween years, many children make radical changes in their social groups, as their social needs and tastes change. They are in transition from the early years of school, when most children have little difficulty with friendships, to the teen years when social relationships become positively Byzantine. Having adults with whom they can discuss social relationships is vital, and grandparents can fill that need.

Typically, tweens complain, “I don’t have any friends.” This plaint is often followed shortly by a phone call, text message or knock on the door. That’s the end of the subject until the next time they spend an hour without being contacted by a friend. Occasionally, a tween has real and obvious social problems, and that situation may call for some type of intervention by the parents. Mostly, however, grandparents can be of help by listening and providing reassurance.

Tweens need help staying on course.
Tweens are in transition from the children they were to the teenagers they are going to become. This is a vital age when they need lots of support from the adults in their lives to stay on the right track. Alcohol use, drug abuse and sexual experimentation often begin in these years. Grandparents should let tweens know where they stand on these issues without being preachy. Grandparents can also promote positive activities, such as volunteer work.

Tweens need to love themselves.
Many tweens have issues with self-esteem and body image. They need all the positive reinforcement they can get, and they aren’t yet jaded enough to discount their grandparents’ opinions. Tweens are also approaching puberty and may be feeling apprehensive about the changes ahead. Grandparents can help by having a positive attitude about all the ages and stages of life.

Why Grandparents Need Tweens

Grandparents need to stay connected.
If grandparents allow the grandparent-grandchild bonds to loosen during these years, it is difficult to re-establish them during the teen years.

Grandparents will have a ball!
The second reason why grandparents need to spend time with tweens is because they are so much fun!

Why Tweens Are Fun

Tweens still like to play.
Maybe they have put away their own Barbies or Legos; that doesn’t mean that they won’t play with them at Grandma’s house, especially if they have the excuse of playing with younger grandchildren, or with Grandma or Grandpa.

Tweens can do a lot of grown-up things.
Grandparents can share activities with tweens on an almost adult basis. You don’t have to play Candyland; tweens can play real card games. When you cook or go bowling or create a photo book, you may find that their skills are approaching your own. If you are playing video games or doing a computer search, you probably will find that their skills are far past yours!

Peers haven't replaced family yet.
The social calendars and school schedules of most tweens aren’t yet as crammed as they will be in a few years, so they still have time for grandparents. Peers haven't become as important as they will be in the teen years, when relationships with peers eclipse family relationships at times.

Tweens aren't so much work.
Tweens are old enough to take care of most of their own needs. They are not so tiring to be with, which means less work and more fun. You won't be so fatigued after your grandchildren come to visit.

The tween years are perfect for travel.
Just as tweens are easier to entertain in your home, they are also easier to travel with. Many grandparents feel that the tween years are perfect for multigenerational travel. Many teenagers find family vacations less than thrilling, but tweenagers aren’t there yet. Grandparents will still need to conserve their energy so they won't be so fatigued when traveling, but if they really need a nap, they are more likely to get it.

Every age and stage of development has its charms, but tween years just may have an extra ration.

Discover five fun activities to do with tweens.

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