What does it mean to be a “tween”?
Alex Banks (aka Ali Cross) tackles this question today regarding her twin boys, who are nearly thirteen. Her post is part of Emblazon’s monthly feature, Tween the Weekends (visit the TTW page and join in)!
I’ve been thinking about the question, too. A couple of weekends ago I had the great joy of seeing our son get married, which also was a chance to be with friends and relatives whom we don’t see nearly as often as we’d like. In our family, our son is the oldest of the cousins, and the youngest is a boy firmly in the tween years. The other children are all somewhere in the middle, more firmly rooted in Erikson’s “identity stage.”
The tween years straddle two of developmental psychologist Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development:
- Ages 5 – 12, during which the existential question is one of competence. How do I stack up against my peers? Can I “make it” in the larger world? How do I accept my weaknesses?
- And ages 12 – 19, during which the existential question is one of identity. Who I am? What is my role? What am I capable of?
Something I noticed as I watched my tween nephew was that he was able to be in the moment more so than older adolescents and adults. He was drinking in every detail around him that more self-conscious teens (or “busy” adults) would fail to see and that many younger children would not be curious enough about to notice. He was clearly fascinated with this new, young adult world of college students of which our son is a part and that is several years my nephew’s future. How I wish I could have heard the thoughts and questions that must have been racing through his head!
That is what can be so special about the tween years: It’s a time when issues of competence are more or less worked out, yielding a confidence that allows for unabashed enjoyment, and the questions of personal identity are just beginning as tweens begin to glimpse the world and future that awaits them.
How would you describe tweens? Be sure to read Alex’s answer and share your thoughts.