What is a Tween? And Why You Should Be Concerned About Them

One of the hardest jobs you'll ever have is that of parent. You may not realize this now, if you don't have children, or if your children are infants, or if they're still under your wing where you can protect and nurture them. But the day will come when your child will walk out your door and leave you at home, wringing your hands, wondering if they will take all that you've taught them into that scary and quite often dangerous world of Tweens. It's always been our perception that teens are the most difficult to handle, that the teenage years are the hardest. But there is a new reality facing parents today and that is the Tween years. These are the years when they're growing out of their babyhood but have not reached Teen status yet. And parents, these are the truly important years.

These Tween years are the precursors of what is to come - the dreaded Teen years. These are the years where we absolutely have to lay the foundation for their future. This is the time to really begin the dialogue on sex, drugs and rock and roll. Ok, so we'll forget about the sex for the most part in this article and the rock and roll of another era seems to have been overtaken by some violent and graphic lyrics of rap, so we'll address that in a future article. For now, let's concentrate on drugs and addiction. The Tween years are when kids start hearing and learning about drugs. Notice I didn't say they start learning about addiction. No, they hear about drugs and depending on who they hear this information from, they may think that doing drugs is cool and that everybody is doing them. Unfortunately they may not be too far off the mark with that reasoning. But these same kids who are curious about drugs do not know the truly down side to doing drugs and that is Addiction with a capital A. For if our children were to really know exactly what addiction is, I doubt that they'd be so eager to start down this path. This is why it's critical for parents to first educate themselves, and then to educate their children. The famous slogan, "Just Say No" initiated by then First Lady, Nancy Reagan, has lost a lot of its impact over time and is only the beginning of what should be a serious, open, and honest discussion about drugs between parent and child. A better slogan to teach your children would be "Just Say Know." Know what drugs can do to you, Know what addiction is, Know how addiction affects not only your life but the lives of your family and friends. Know that you can say No to drugs. Education will be our salvation and we must all be educated on this important subject. We have to reach kids while they're still on the vine or in the tree, so to speak. We can't wait until that tomato ripens or the apple falls from the tree because then it's too late. Kids in the 5th and 6th grades are now acutely aware of drugs. Their innocence is being stripped away from them at younger and younger ages. The time for discussion about drugs and addiction is now!! Don't be a "Not in my family" parent. Just because your child has always been a delight and has not given you any trouble does not mean that trouble might not be looming on the horizon. The Addiction Monster is out there and he's waiting to grab your child and you'll find yourself in the fight of your life, trying to spare your child from his deadly grip.

Start speaking to your Tweens about drugs NOW. There is not a moment to waste. Parents of Tweens, don your suit of armor and grab your tools because, as Bette Davis famously said, "It's gonna be a bumpy ride."

Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis is the author of the book "I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction)" published by Outskirts Press. You can read about, and purchase the book at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as the author's website - http://www.iamyourdisease.com. Sheryl's two latest books are Slaying the Addiction Monster - An All-Inclusive Look into Drug Addiction in America Today and The Addiction Monster and the Square Cat. Both of these books will be available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as the author's website in October of 2008. The Addiction Monster and the Square Cat is a wonderfully educational book for kids ages 10 and up and is told by the sassy but lovable family cat. It packs a powerful punch and speaks to kids in their own language.

I am a retired medical transcriptionist and radio DJ who also did voiceovers for TV. Married, with one living son, having lost my youngest son Scott, who was a paramedic and an RN to the disease of addiction. Happily married for 42 years to Jack, retired 8th grade science teacher. My oldest son Dale is a graduate student in Environmental Sciences and has his own band, New Gravity.

We live in Palm Bay, Florida. I am originally from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and am a citizen of both Australia and the US. We are owned by one dog and four cats!

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