Parenting Tweens: Is It Time For Rules or Relationship?

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Disclosure: Dream Resorts provided an all expenses paid trip to Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa including travel, accommodations and activities. All thoughts and opinions are my own. #MomsEscape #MotherDaughterEscape #ad 

Parenting tweens.  It can be a challenge.  Your child will be changing, growing up, experimenting and testing everything around them, including you.  I recently had lunch with a woman whose daughter had just left home and I asked her if she had any advice for me, since my daughter is ten years old and we are entering a new phase.  She said, “I made a mistake with my daughter.  I tried to be tough.  I made a lot of rules.  I wish I would have worked harder on creating and maintaining a close relationship with her.


Rules or relationship?  

What do you think?  

Are the tween years a time to power through and be strict about rules

or is flexibility and relationship-building more important?

Jo Frost, author of six parenting books, has been my favorite role model.  I watched her television show, Supernanny, and used her books as guides.  She stressed the value of schedules and routine.  From a toddlers perspective, she showed me that rules, schedules and routines were a comfort, creating a sense of security.  With my daughter’s adoption experience, this was an especially important area of concern.  At the very start, I made detailed schedules for eating, sleeping, and play.  Another piece of advice I took from Jo Frost was the establishment of family rules.  In almost every home Jo went into, she would make a list of rules for children to understand.  I liked the idea of creating boundaries.  Jo also emphasized how important it was to consistently stick to those rules.  Once you show a child that you will change or bend the rules, you’ve lost all accountability.  Consistency not only gives a child a sense of foundation and grounding, it avoids the constant battles that many families experience.  The simple tips she gave, for example getting down to a toddler’s level and making eye contact before saying something important worked miracles.  Changing your voice to show that you are serious is a trick I couldn’t do very well, so I would actually announce to my daughter, “this is my serious-mommy voice” and that worked well for me!  So many things I learned from Jo Frost, but now?  Uh oh, her advice and books are for toddlers.  Help!  Now I have a tween!


Before my daughter came home to our family, I read quite a few parenting books.  I think it’s time for me to head to the library and start again.  Readers, if you have any recommendations, please leave a comment!  Advice?  Please help!

Some things from the toddler years I’m going to keep, but adjust.  For example, the schedules.  While I’m no longer going to have detailed schedules of every activity, I am going to insist on a minimum of nine hours of sleep every night.  My daughter is a pretty even-tempered kid and I think that is due in part to the fact that she has gotten more sleep than the average kid.  I am not, never have been, strict about a specific bed time, but I am strict about hours of sleep.  Yes, if there is nothing going on tomorrow and you can sleep late, then you can stay up later tonight.  If you have a friend sleeping over and it’s a once-in-a-blue-moon then yes, you don’t have to get ten hours of sleep.  But on a regular basis?  Sleep is important.  I just read that in a 12 step program, they say that you make bad choices when you are H-Hungry, A-Angry, L-Lonely, or T-Tired.  I think that is true, especially for children.  Meltdowns come when kids are hungry, angry (never get to make their own decisions about anything), lonely (ignored), or tired.  A well-fed, well-rested child that is loved and has boundaries but not strict rules for every movement is much more likely to be happy, good-natured, cooperative, and a joy to be around.  That doesn’t sound like rocket science but it’s something that as parents, we can easily forget.  So my plan?  A minimum of nine hours of sleep on a consistent basis.  Healthy, well-balanced meals.

Food - Green Smoothies

Okay now the more difficult part, the psychological needs for independence and love.  We all love our kids, but unfortunately, they don’t always know that we love them.  A few years ago, I overheard a friend of mine, asking her daughter, “Who is my precious treasure?”  Of course the answer should be, “ME!”  I started doing it with my daughter, asking her, “Who is my precious treasure?”.  Over the years, it has usually been, “ME!” but occasionally, I get a “I don’t know…” or a “Who?” and I know that I haven’t been doing my job of ensuring that my daughter knows she is important, loved, and precious.  What are ways to show your child they are loved?  My answer would be, “listen”.  When someone listens, really listens to us, don’t we feel important and loved?  It’s one of my favorite memories of my own mom.  After school I would come home and she would listen to me for hours telling her the details (ad nauseum) of my day.  She still listens to me for hours ramble on and on about my day.  And it makes me feel special, makes me feel loved.  I want to give that gift to my daughter.

Dreams Resort Riviera Cancun Beach ‪#‎MomsEscape‬ ‪#‎MotherDaughterGetaway‬ ‪#‎ad‬

But what about a need for independence?  Like the toddler, rebellion comes when every decision is made for you.  Strength comes from making your own decisions.  Wisdom comes from making your own mistakes.  Are the tween years time to let go of the reins?  Loosen?  But how much?  I want to allow mistakes, but not any that have permanent consequences!  I want her to be exploratory, but safe!  Whew!  This is going to be difficult, I’m feeling it already.

Beach - Mother Daughter in Ocean

Very soon after I had lunch with the woman who talked to me about rules vs relationship, I had the opportunity to go on a vacation with my daughter – just the two of us.  A bell rang in my head, this is a way to create shared, unique memories.  A way to have time to spend time with her away from the distractions of day-to-day life.  The vacation was a type that would be conducive to bonding and relationship building – an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico.

If you are looking to bond with your child and have the resources to take a vacation, I highly recommend an all-inclusive resort like Dream Resorts.  It was relaxing, stress-free, safe and fun.  We could relax in sunshine, share time together without any pressures, experience new things together.  Because it was all-inclusive, we could have that appetizer before dinner, order an expensive meal, add a special dessert without causing anxiety.  Because it was a Dreams Resort, there was entertainment and activities – all included.  We could go to a show, but leave if it wasn’t to our style or because we would prefer a walk on the beach.  We could order room service for breakfast one day and go to the amazing buffet the next.

An all-inclusive vacation at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa gave us no worries for mom, and time together.   Time to focus on a mother-daughter relationship and have fun!  Read more about our experience here:  5 Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Your All-Inclusive Vacation.  If you can, book a trip for one of the winter months.  There are incredible savings of up to 55% for early booking.  Check out the special offers with this link, Dream Resorts Special Offers.  And don’t forget, leave some advice for me on parenting a tween in the comments of this post!


  1. 1
    Julie Lundstrom says:

    A vacation or a Lake cabin is a fun way to get connected with the kids and family.

  2. 2
    Judy Thomas says:

    It looks so lovely.An awesome way to connect with family.

  3. 3
    Janet W. says:

    A trip like that is definitely a great way to bond!

  4. 4
    Natalie says:

    I would love to visit Dreams resort. I could use some R and R!

  5. 5

    Tweens need both. They need rules, but also some independence.

  6. 6
    Kimberly R says:

    You need to always have a balance between the two- rules or relationship. Depending upon the situation.

  7. 7

    Rules are essential but babying teens is not a good thing either.

  8. 8

    Such a great post! I’m sure so many parents will find this helpful :]

    Edye |
    Edye recently posted..30 Blog Post Ideas

  9. 9
    Diana Corlett says:

    I think, as parents, it is ours to offer both rules and bonding. They are young and can still benefit from our guidance. Of course if mus be accompanied by love and nurturing. My children are grown long ago, but I miss that special time with them.

  10. 10
    Sherry Compton says:

    It’s hard to find the balance, but you need to be there for them. Boundaries have to be set, but this is a difficult time for them, too; be patient. Great tip on listening and bonding.

  11. 11
    Marti Tabora says:

    I think a balance between the two is most important. I think kids have plenty of friends and can always make more friends, but they don’t get any more parents so being a parent is the most important as long as there is also flexibilty.

  12. 12

    That vacation to Cancun looks amazing. What a great way to spend time together!

  13. 13

    I think a balance is best, but rules are important at any age.

  14. 14

    No advice on the tween years as mine are just six years old.

    IMO, having a happy balance between rules and no-rules is what kids need. Too much structure and they don’t have the time to live the life that they want to live.

    As for relationship, I think that you can enforce the rules and still have a loving and caring relationship. When you try and be friends before being a parent (and enforcing the rules), that’s where you can get into trouble.

    Your daughter looks very happy so keep up the great work Mom!

    Besos, Sarah
    Journeys of The Zoo
    Sarah De Diego recently posted..WIN $1,000 in Groceries at the #FoodBasics #IWantItAll Event! #contest

  15. 15
    Dana Rodriguez says:

    These are some great tips and that looks like a great way to bond. Your daughter looks so happy so you must be doing it right!

  16. 16
    Kathy Davis says:

    I would love to take a vacation with my daughter. She’s 25 now, and will probably start a family of her own soon.

  17. 17

    Fantastic post! I really do need to take a vacation with my daughters. They’re getting older, so we really need to appreciate the time we can share together while we can. :)

  18. 18
    Nancy Burgess says:

    Thanks for the great tips.Tween are hard sometimes.

  19. 19
    Laurie P says:

    my boy was a breeze thru his tweens…….he’s about to graduate high school, but my girl is starting kindergarten and i think she’s the one who’ll give a good run when she’s older lol

  20. 20
    Melissa P. says:

    Those tween years are hard for any child, so it’s really nice to see parents who understand. Wonderful tips!!

  21. 21
    Elle Styles says:

    You look very happy in the pictures! XOXO

  22. 22
    Hope Brooks says:

    Your tips are great (:

  23. 23

    I think that it is very tough to balance the relationship with tweens and teens. You need to be sure to set rule and guidelines but they need independence to trust themselves in making their own decisions too.

  24. 24

    I think tween time is a time to establish rules, friendship is for us to have with our peers and when they grow up, they get to be our friends. When they are children, they need rules and boundaries. There are actually tons of studies that back that up, studies that went on for years and years, not just one or two.

  25. 25

    Even though I’m not a parent, I think if parents try to be their children’s friends, then the child doesn’t get what they need from the parent.

  26. 26

    I think there’s a fine life between the two. Tweens & early teens have been the most challenging stage I’ve encountered with my kids so far….

  27. 27

    Quality time together is always beneficial. It makes for great memories.

  28. 28
    Angela Saver says:

    It is definitely important to get that quality time with our kids & continually build that relationship. Our kids are 19 & 24 & I love spending time with them & hearing about their day! I would love a vacation away from home with them for some quality time!

  29. 29
    Jerry Marquardt says:

    It is hard to know when it is really time, so I appreciate the information on staying on top of it. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  30. 30
    Hannah C says:

    It would be so much fun to visit the Dream Resorts.

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