The only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . and tweens

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself . . . and tweens
photo by David Castillo for

It’s time for another ChicagoNow Blogapalooza, in which all ChicagoNow bloggers are given exactly one hour to produce a blog post about one topic. Tonight’s topic: “Write about fear, or lack thereof, and the role it has played in any aspect of your life.”

I am more fearful than I would like to be, but I’ve also found that fear can be a good thing. Like many people, I fear the unknown. The best way for me to address that fear is research. Learning. Discovering. Understanding. They all make me feel much better. It makes things known.  Knowledge is power and feeling empowered makes me less afraid.

As Karen Thompson Walker said in a TED talk, “Our fears are an amazing gift of the imagination … a way of glimpsing what might be the future when there’s still time to influence how that future will play out.” I feel like information obtained through reading and research gives me the best shot of influencing the future in the right way.

And that, my friends, is why you are reading this.

As my child aged and I realized that she was no longer little but also not big, as I became a believer in the existence of the tween years, I realized how much I did not know – about her growth and development, about best parenting practices for this tricky age group, about this society that sometimes feels so very different from the one in which I grew up.

That lack of knowledge was the perfect accompaniment to my fears – fear of cell phones, fear of hormones, fear of helping with middle school math homework, fears about my own social awkwardness that was most painful when I was a tween and doing a pretty crummy job navigating fickle friendships.

So I started to research. Then I thought, “I bet there are other people with the same questions. There are a lot of us in the same boat, so I might as well share what I’m finding.”

That was the initial impetus for Tween Us.

This blog was born out of fear.

Turns out that fear has played a pretty important role in my life as I know it today. I’ve been blogging just under two years, and in that amount of time, Tween Us has taken on a life of its own. It’s become a community, and an amazing one at that. We support and reassure each other, share frustrations at the fact that these kids just simply cannot think at times, and laugh together, courtesy of both the fun our kids bring and the occasional absurdities encountered on our parenting journeys.

I have learned a ton these past two years, from writing, from researching, from experts and probably most of all from experience.

And you know what? I’m still afraid of the tween years.

My research over this time has led me to the conclusion that parenting is an art, not a science, and that it is certainly not possible to know everything, or to even come close.

There will always be a bit of unknown, and I will always have a wee bit of fear (or a lot of fear) about the unknown, but I’m becoming more okay with my fear.

Parenting will always involve a certain amount of fear and that is something with which I am making my peace.

Just this week, for the very first time, I thought, “It’ll be nice when she’s able to drive herself to her flute lesson.” I stopped in my tracks and gasped. Did I just wish that my child, my sweet baby girl, had a driver’s license? WTF. But I did, and while that thought s scary, I’m becoming used to the idea that parenting, and really life in general, means living with a modicum of fear, acknowledging it and charging ahead anyway.

No, this doesn’t mean that I’m getting my kid a smartphone. (I know that’s what she’d be hoping if she was reading this.) It will happen at some point, and I will monitor it closely, in part because I’m afraid of the wackos on the Internet. (If you ever want to reinforce that fear, start a blog, especially on which you occasionally address the presence of child predators on certain apps.)

I am grateful for the fear that led me here. As a result, I have not only a whole lot more knowledge about the tween years, and more expert advice than I ever thought I would have, but just importantly Tween Us has become community of amazing people who share their own fears, their parenting triumphs and the frustrations that come with kids in this tricky phase.

Facing the fear of tween parenting has led to amazing opportunities, friendships and fun.

I am so lucky.

To read other #CNBlogapalooza Hour stories CLICK HERE!

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