Setting Limits with a Pre-Teen


Photo (C) Linnell Esler 2005

My wife and I have done our best to listen to our children’s feelings throughout their lives so far. We’re so pleased with them, and have used listening to help them each meet major challenges in their lives.

Just this week, my wife and I had our first upset with our almost-twelve-year-old daughter on pre-teen socializing: she and some of her classmates were planning to watch a movie in the house of one of the boys in class.  Unfortunately, the majority of those friends decided that they wanted to watch horror movies. Their choice was “1408,” which the reviews indicate is a truly distressing piece of work.

Thanks to your influence, my wife and I have been clear about resisting the worst of what Hollywood offers to young people.  Our daughter had big cries about being in conflict with us over this movie. My wife and I also had to process our feelings: it didn’t feel good to hear how painful it was for us to limit her social life in this way. She felt badly, we felt badly. But we held our ground, knowing that the movie was not healthy for her young mind. The hardest part was that her friends went ahead with their party plans without her.

However, our daughter is now glad that she did not attend that party, and told us afterwards that she would not have her children see such movies, either.  We feel close. The limit didn’t harm our relationship!  There will be lots more to deal with as our girls get older, but your approach and what we have been able to learn from you is invaluable.  Your work is so important! Thank you!

–a father in Boise, ID

Check out the new class for parents of 9 to 13 year olds, Staying Close to Your Tween.

2 thoughts on “Setting Limits with a Pre-Teen

  1. This is a simple and real example of how we can set important limits with warmth and firmness. Of course a child is going to be upset about not being able to do something with her friends but how beautiful that this dad AND mom stayed with their girl to listen while holding that limit. And how wonderful that they took time to process with each other how difficult it was to see their daughter upset, disappointed and feeling left out and had empathy for her rather than annoyance at her protests to the limit.

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