The Blog

On Parenting a Tween (When I Didn’t Realize I Had One)

They say parents are often oblivious and that’s something I’ve been fighting for a long time. I try to find the balance between staying on top of my son’s schooling, staying aware of social environment, and staying far enough away that I don’t make him feel watched.

But it turns out I am a bit oblivious. I didn’t realize that I have a tween.

My son, Evan, has just finished third grade and will soon hit the mid-year milestone of turning 9 1/2. He’s every bit his age and then some. But he’s still my baby. He’s still in elementary school. He still likes kids’ movies.

This is the difference just one school year can make!

It turns out that the “tween” age is typically between 8 and 12 years old. So I’ve been parenting a tween and didn’t even realize it. It seemed like it was so far away and now I realize it’s been right under my nose for quite a while.

Maybe I didn’t notice because Evan seems old for his age. He’s what you would call an old soul. He’s sensitive and kind and intelligent. We often have long, complex conversations, usually in the car. But there’s another factor to his maturity as well: his friends.

We moved into the community that we’re in specifically because we knew it was full of kids close to Evan’s age. He’s an only child and it was important to us that he have accessibility to friends in our community. He gets along great with most of the kids and we’re fortunate to be surrounded by boys very close to his age.

However, very close can make a difference as kids age and mature at different rates. He has friends heading to middle school next year or heading into fifth grade while he’s a rising fourth grader. That year or two between friends can sometimes make all the difference.

Over the summer, when he has less structure and supervision (kids need to be kids, after all), I make it a point to be the place where the kids can hang out. We’ve got a trampoline out back, video games inside, and popsicles in the freezer.

When the kids are inside, the playroom door stays open and I subtly listen to the boys playing Xbox and discussing the latest YouTube videos. Sometimes I bring up conversations later and sometimes he does. I like it that he knows I’m listening but not intruding.

As summer is gearing up, I’ll have my eyes and ears open and stay in the background as needed and into the foreground when that’s needed to. And when the neighborhood boys might be playing a little out of Evan’s league, I’ll remind him that his school friends are only a car ride and play date away.

Fadra Nally has always followed her passions and created careers around them: science, education, travel, technology, marketing. But when Fadra quit her corporate life, she found her true passion: telling stories, inspiring others, and making people laugh. She currently works as a social media professional and writes on her personal blog, All Things Fadra.  When she’s not working, she’s mothering a tween son and a menagerie of pets in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*