As her two oldest kids move into their pre-teen, or “tween,” years, Beth Brekke-Rominski is facing challenges she didn’t foresee.
“The biggest problem we’re having right now is talking back, mainly because that’s all they see on TV … It’s drilled into them.”
On TV, kids are never punished for sassing back, she said. “And that’s not acceptable. We really struggled with that.”
She and her husband, Shawn Rominski, are raising Emma, 13, Mason, 11, and Henry, 8.
The Rominskis, of Stephen, Minn., typify couples everywhere who confront new demands for parental wisdom and judgment as their kids enter their tween (ages 10 to 12) and teen years.
“I did not think it would be as difficult as it is,” Brekke-Rominski said.
The way her kids act is much different than she did —or was allowed to — when she was younger.
“I would never have done the things that kids do now. It’s a constant ‘I want, I want,’” she said. “I would never have said that to my parents. If they said ‘no,’ that was it.”
But she realizes she and Shawn have been “facilitators.”
Her kids have a collection of electronic toys and games that she and her husband provided, she said. “We’re making the choice to pacify our children (with these toys). So, it’s partly our fault.”
Similarly, Bryan and Pam Shinn of Fargo, N.D., who are raising Daniel, 18, and Ashley, 15, have encountered behavior they don’t appreciate.
“When they hit those tween years, there’s the attitude,” Pam Shinn said. “It seems like they’re just mad.”
She finds it amusing that Daniel — who did the same thing — sees this in his younger sister and points it out, she said. “He’ll say, ‘You don’t have to be so mean about it.’”
“Kids are not going to always do what you want them to do,” she said. “I tell them, it’s all in the presentation. It’s the way they say it, the way they look when they say it.
“But they grow out of it.”
With Ashley, though, “I think it’s worse,” she said. “It’s the head-bobbing, the hand-gesturing.”
It gets her goat that Daniel has to have the last word, she said. “He’ll be talking to himself as he heads downstairs. And I run (after him) saying ‘No, no, no’” to get the last word.”
Even though Shinn swore she was “not going to become my parents,” she said, after having children, she’s noticed, “I sound like my mother.”
When her kids misbehave and she’s had to enforce the rules, Brekke-Rominski makes it a point to let them know that she’s still there for them.
“I’ll say, ‘You may be mad at me, you may have not talked to me for two days, but I’m still here for you, I still love you,’” she said. “I don’t think kids hear that enough.”
Too often, “parents don’t talk to kids. They try to be their friends.”
In the past, she and her husband slipped into that pattern, she said, and are now working to reclaim their power as parents.