Blog Series: What Your Tween Daughter Wish You Knew by Tiffany Winegar, LAMFT

She doesn’t need you to solve her problems.

It’s difficult for parents to handle when their tween is hurting. Oftentimes parents want to fix the problem as quickly as possible in order to take away any hurt their child is experiencing and to calm their own worry. But think about the last time you told someone about something you were struggling with and they immediately tried to fix it for you. Often when this happens it can feel invalidating and frustrating and even like the person isn’t really listening. It is unlikely that you will continue to open up to this person if they continue to respond in this way. Just like it is for you, it can be frustrating for your tween when you try to solve her problems for her.

She is learning to make her own decisions.

Unlike past years when your child would look to you to resolve issues for her, she is now entering a time of immerging autonomy and independence and needs the chance to work things out herself. Your tween will be much more likely to continue to open up to you if you approach her problems first with active listening and validation.

What to say instead.

Not sure what to say? Try, “that must be really hard” or “what was that like for you?” Not sure if she needs a listening ear or advise? Try, “I can tell this is really important to you. Do you need me to listen or to help you figure it out?”

 

Next post in series: She needs to know you’re in charge.

 

I Skal Hygge Jer! (Have Yourselves Some Hygge!) by Pete Benson, LAMFT

In Denmark there is a word that doesn’t quite have a translation in any other language… it is hygge (pronounced hoo.g.uh). Some would translate it as “cozy.” The only problem is cozy doesn’t cover it. Hygge is a concept, it is an environment; it is a state of being. I would recommend that you and your family find some time for hygge and make it a regular thing in your lives because it is quite delightful, enjoyable, and connecting. It will help you create a closer, more connected family.

The concept and potential application is well described in “The Danish Way of Parenting” by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl. If by the end of reading this brief introduction to hygge you are intrigued, I would recommend reading the book and taking from it what fits for you and your family.

What is hygge?

Hygge is the idea of “cozy” and more. It is being together with loved ones without the pressure to perform (act like everything is okay); it is being together with loved ones without having to engage in the awkward or pressured conversations. It is being together with loved ones with a sense of “oneness” or “togetherness.” After finding and defining who you are as a family, it is the “we” that you feel when you are all working together for this sense of cozy togetherness without the pressures or distractions that often hitchhike along on family outings.

Doesn’t this sound like a great experience? I spent some time in Denmark and experienced hygge and I can say that it is a wonderful experience. How do we make it happen here in our families?

Hygge Guidelines:

Hygge comes along with some defining tenets to be followed that allow the cozy togetherness to happen. The first of these is that everyone who comes needs to agree to these tenets. It takes a joint effort to make hygge happen. Everyone plays a role. In Denmark the older kids know that during hygge time it is their role to play with the younger kids while the adults work together to prepare a meal or snacks. The adults all know that everyone participates in the preparation of food, environment etc. Is everyone on board? If not, ask that they try it two or three times with you and then you can re-evaluate.

Second, electronics are turned off or put away or stored together where they are not a distraction. This includes TV’s, tablets, cell phones, computers, and any other entertainment focused electronic device. These take away from the togetherness that makes hygge what it is.

Third, there needs to be a commitment to keep conversations in the hygge zone. This means no politics, no “when are you going to have a baby,” or “when are you getting married” type talk. You can talk about the weather, what you found enjoyable about your day, what your hopes for the future are, what you appreciate about one another. There are many subjects under the stars that don’t invite contention, strife, resentment, pressure, guilt, or shame. Find those topics and make them a part of your hygge experience.

Fourth, there needs to be food and drink of some sort. It can be cookies and milk, it can be birthday cake and ice cream, it can be a BBQ with burgers and hotdogs, or it can be a full blown meal. Food and drink tend to come with gatherings of loved ones and just makes it that much more cozy. The food preparation as a group can be a part of the hygge experience as well where everyone is pitching in and playing a role.

Last but definitely not least, is a commitment to just being together. To being able to let go, relax and enjoy the food, the atmosphere, the company and the hygge. Stating that there should be no time limitations is, at times, not realistic; that being said do your best to have the time so that the clock is not a concern nor is having to be somewhere.

Have Yourselves Some Hygge

The time that you spend hygge-ing will be some of the most connecting and enjoyable times you will have. Keep in mind, this doesn’t happen naturally. Like many experiences in life worth having, hygge needs to be intentional, the tenets need to be followed in order to have the hygge experience.

Give it a try. Present these tenets to your family. Ask for a united effort and have an evening of hygge. Share with your friends; invite them over and share the magic. Don’t forget to share the guidelines with them. Hygge jer! (Have a cozy time!)