Let me start by saying I did NOT adequately consider the ramifications of having a tweenaged child while I was peri-menopausal. Did not consider it at all.

Math is hard.

In a few years my son will be 14 and I will be 50. Maybe things will be better, but hormones run our moods and lives, so maybe not. Deep breath.

Parenting is hard.

My baby boy and me 10+ years ago–ACK!

I’ve been meaning to follow up on this post with resources for raising tweens with some gender-specific suggestions because, like it or not, our kids have been the recipients of gender-targeted and gender-biased ideas and marketing since they arrived.

For real.

And also because your children may want some information about how their particular body will grow and change during adolescence. Plus the politics of sex and sexuality. Resources for transgender and gender non-conforming youth also offered.

How did he get go ginormous?


Boys receive messages from early on that they need to be tough, hide their feelings (except for anger!), and keep physical/emotional distance from others (“no homo”—look it up). Homophobia isn’t the only issue either. Top pick resources for parents of boys:

Packaging Boyhood: Saving Our Sons from Superheroes, Slackers, and Other Media Stereotypes

The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger

Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Lives of Boys

Ten Conversations You Must Have with Your Son: Preparing Your Son for a Happy and Successful Life

Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy

I love this book so much.


Girls receive messages from early on that they should take care of others (to the detriment of their own well-being). They are often taught to acquiesce to other’s desires and make compromises to keep the peace—with both male and female peers. It can get pretty complicated. Some of my favorite resources for parents of girls:

Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

Queen Bees and Wannabes, 3rd Edition: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boys, and the New Realities of Girl World

The Girls’ Guide to Sex Education: Over 100 Honest Answers to Urgent Questions about Puberty, Relationships, and Growing Up

I’ve never read a book by Peggy Orenstein that I didn’t love. Also relevant: School Girls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap.

Trans & Non-Binary

Transgender and gender non-conforming tweens and teens are uniquely positioned to teach everyone in our culture a thing or two. I hope they are well-supported, and that we are listening. As it is not my area of expertise, I did some research to find these reputable resources for trans and gender non-conforming kids:

Who Are You? The Kid’s Guide to Gender Identity

The Transgender Teen: A Handbook for Parents and Professionals Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Teens

Where’s MY Book? A Guide for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth, Their Parents, and Everyone Else

Raising a Transgender Child: A Complete Guide for Parents, Families, and Caregivers

Please share!

Have you encountered a resource for raising a tweenager that isn’t listed here? Please share it in the comments below. We need all the help we can get.

Sarah MacLaughlin is author of the award-winning book, What Not to Say: Tools for Talking with Young Children and has been featured inThe Huffington Post. She brings over 25 years of experience working with children and families to her coaching practice. Sarah is also mom to a 10-year-old who gives her plenty of opportunities to take her own advice. She works with families one on one, in groups, and online.