Thursday, 8 April 2010

How to Hug a Porcupine: Negotiating the Prickly Points of the Tween Years

Author: Julie A Ross, M.A.
Genre: Parenting
Pages: 201
Published: 2008

Synopsis: Author Julie Ross gives parents help in dealing with children in their tween years (ages 8-12 years). Some of the topics she gives advice on are:

- Disorganized and Defiant Tweens
- How to Break the Nagging Cycle
- Peer Pressure
- Dealing with Defiance
- Computer Addiction
- Encouraging Self-Esteem
- Independence
- Sex, Drugs and Alcohol Talks
- Sibling Rivalry

My Thoughts: Overall, this was a good parenting book. There was no big WOW moment for me but I did come away from reading this book with some new informational tools to help me wade through the tween years ahead of me.

As a parent of three kids (ages 6, 8 and 10 years) I'm right in the middle of Tweentopia so I'm open to all the advice I can get in order to survive these years relatively unscathed with happy teens! For the past 10 years I've cultivated a great relationship with my kids. I knew their habits, likes/dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Then all of a sudden the tween years were upon us and things changed. The tools I used to use when dealing with issues with my kids don't seem to work with these tweens that I live with. Just when I thought I had a handle on it! Apparently all this change is par for the course (phew, it's not just me!).

This book states that how we guide, teach, discipline and prepare our kids in the tween years will greatly influence how well they do in their teen years. Do we want a child that has to be micromanaged to the smallest task? Or do we want a child who isn't afraid to take a bit of a risk? Do we want to engage our kids and get their thoughts on issues while still maintaining a good parent/child relationship? Will they listen to our views on drugs/sex/alcohol or will they do a huge eye roll, turn up their music and try to ignore us?

One of the things that I did take away from this book was a better understanding of why my two tweens do what they do. For example, my usually very organized 10 year old currently has a very poor memory and is so disorganized lately. With a Type A mom it has come as a very big shock to have him so absent-minded. Apparently this change towards disorganization is just another after effect of hormonal changes. Huh.

I also got a better insight into learning how to talk to my tweens so that I don't overparent or micromanage and let them earn more independence. One of the major developmental goals of tweendom and the teen years is to gain independence which is why tweens like to show in so many ways (music, clothes, attitude etc) how different they are from dear old Mom and Dad.

I also liked how she advises parents to "listen with heart" (ie not being so critical). Kids live up to our expectations (good and bad). We want to ensure that they know we believe in them and have good expectations for them. We also need to listen more and talk less with tweens to engage them more in discussions. As parents we have to shift our thinking from a control approach to more of a relationship approach as our kids get into their teen years. Ross says having great teens requires that parents put in the time during the tween years to cultivate their relationship with their tweens. Makes sense to me!

I was hoping for more details on how to deal with one of my tween's increasing dependence on all things that have screens. The book talks a bit about computer use and how to keep kids safe on-line. Good info but I wanted more of a 'how to stop your kids from nagging you for more screen time'. Or something like that.

Overall, a good and useful read.

My Rating: 3.5/5


Jon said...

Hi, the title is what drew me to this book. I thought it was very creative and accurate of the way many parents feel with kids going through the tweens. Thanks for your review it was very helpful.

Laurie said...

Same here, Jon. I had been surfing for a new parenting book to read and this one caught my eye. The porcupine analogy really is accurate in describing some tween behaviour. ;) I'm glad my review helped you.

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