Parenting Guru: 6 Things I Didn't Know About Tweens Until I Had One

Most days I'm the proud owner - err, mother of a tween boy. At 10 years old, my son's managed to frustrate, impress, confuse, challenge, and need me more than I could have ever imagined.

As much as I try to prepare, protect, and educate my young man, sometimes I wonder if he's teaching me more than I could ever teach him.

As I continue to practice the art of understanding my tween, I thought I'd share some tween lessons learned along the way:

Tweens love-hate to be hugged. They do. While your tween will likely never ask for a hug, they'll want one. Look out for the subtle signs of your tween's too-cool affection. From the tween lean in (total hug invitation) to the head rest (total hug invitation), your tween is non-verbally asking for affection on the regular. Parents, grab and hug tight, don't let go even when it gets awkward. Your tween is a product of those hugs and kisses and needs them now more than you might realize.

Tweens love-hate to talk. Ask your tween about school and you'll get silence. Ask your tween about their friends and you'll get a shoulder shrug if you're lucky. No matter the response to your questions, keep asking and showing an interest in your tween's life. Sure, it might annoy them and their lack of response will surely annoy you too, but continue to keep the lines of communication open.

Tweens are like, geniuses. Your tween loves you but probably thinks you're kind of stupid, no offense. Kids today are scary-smart, what with learning the basics of geometry in kindergarten and stuff. Man, these kids of the digital age. Show offs.

Tweens are afraid. Today's tweens may think and even act like they've got it all figured out, but deep down they're scared. And scared they should be. God forbid they wear the wrong outfit, listen to the wrong music, or gasp! Kiss mom goodbye. Junior high ain't pretty; I've been there.

Tweens are stuck. I speak on behalf of the entire human race when I say that transitions suck. Now, imagine being stuck between a kid (with all the comforts and limitations therein) and a teen (with all the excitement and uncertainty therein). Scary, right? The only thing scarier than being a tween is parenting one.

Tweens need us now more than ever. It's weird. You'd think your infant baby or danger toddler would need you most of all, but I suppose anyone can change a diaper or watch out for sharp corners (I know, not as well as you can but hang with me here). Your tween is a fragile spirit, working to understand themselves and their place in this big scary world. Parents are among a select group of people who've put in the time, energy, and love to earn their trust.

With that, I'm off to hug my reluctant tween, ask questions he won't answer, and rely on him to sync my wireless devices.

Mommyfriend goes by Lori Garcia in real life and is a Shine Parenting Guru. She writes at www.mommyfriend.com where she's busy finding perfection in imperfection daily. When she's not fussing with her bangs, she's shaking her groove thing for Babble.com.