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Sober Moms: The Tween Years Are Here!

Well, it’s happening, my daughter has definitely entered her early adolescence and the wonderful tween years! What an interesting time in my child’s life – so much going on, and so many wonderful changes!

On the Way to school! Smile 🙂

OMG! Who am I kidding!? I am going nuts here! My sweet little girl has become “moody, over-dramatized, self-centered, focused almost solely on friends, close-mouthed, surly, back-talking and condescending!” (Aha! Parenting). Everything is boring and everyone is annoying, and I, of course, I don’t understand anything – “Gwod, mom!”

My daughter’s life is much different from mine when I was her age. By the time I was 11 my dad had remarried, my biological mom was long gone, and I was pretty much left to my own devices. At the same time, I lived in fear of my dad who had a very solid fist and was quite unpredictable with it. I would never dare to say NO to him, or disobey him in any way. None of the sassiness that my daughter has been displaying was ever allowed when I was her age; although I did try it on a few occasions, but I quickly learned that this was not advisable! So, I am often appalled by the disrespecting words that come out of her mouth lately!

Of course, I’d like to think that I’m a gentle, patient person, and that I am able to stay calm when confronted with a stressful situations. But, this belief has been quickly dispelled every time I have had an argument with my daughter. Last Sunday she wanted to stay for dinner at the neighbor’s house with her friend. I told her that Sundays we eat dinner together and then get ready for the week ahead, and that I wanted her to eat with us. Well, that didn’t go over well! After what seemed like the longest list of reasons why she should be able to eat at the neighbor’s, AND my continued declaration about eating dinner as a family, AND all this, intertwined with her semi-crying, growling and yelling, she finally screamed out that I was the meanest mom ever, and then ran upstairs to her room! And that’s when I just lost it, and I found myself yelling out the same, crazy things that my dad did when I was her age! Oh, good grief!

About 3 years old here!

About 3 years old here!

I sat in my safe place (the bathroom), in an attempt to regroup. There is nothing worse than feeling like a failed parent! UGH! The self-bashing tape started rolling, and I found myself just wanting to check out and get drunk; I mean totally wasted drunk. The feeling was so strong that it scared me! I felt absolutely overwhelmed by a situation that seemed trivial, yet I had no clue how to resolve it! This got me really worried, and I knew that I didn’t want a repeat of what just happened. The change in my daughter’s behavior has come in quite suddenly, and I haven’t yet learned how to deal with it. I really need to figure out how to be a parent to her in this new phase of her life, and how to protect my sobriety.

So, I quickly decided to use some of my sober tools:

  • Quick text to someone in recovery
  • Little walk outside
  • Serenity prayer
  • Deep breathing
  • A reminder that this too shall pass
  • And a reminder that: I don’t have to drink over this and that I am going to be OK!

That night, I started Googling all over, in search for some answers and solutions. I found several helpful articles, especially one at Aha! Parenting, called Staying Close to Your Tween Daughter:

At the iCarly show, 2010.

At the iCarly show, 2010.

Tips to make parenting your tween girl less drama, and more delight:

1) Be willing to change. You can’t parent the way you did when she was little; it just isn’t appropriate or effective.  If she gets testy, that’s a signal that you need to adjust your parenting style.

2) Focus on the relationship, not on discipline. You’ll get no respect if she doesn’t feel connected to you. Fight like the dickens to stay close to your daughter.  Do not let her push you away. She still needs you, she just can’t acknowledge it.  Find every opportunity to connect. (Continue reading here >>>)

Lots of great advice there, yes, I have to change, adjust and stay connected – sounds familiar! But I really felt like I needed more! I am sure this is hard for any parent to deal with, but I am not sure if “normal” parents just want to get wasted when they get frustrated with their kid’s behavior too, but that’s where I go – this is my standard reaction to a stressful situation that I don’t know how to deal with.

So I tried to identify my feelings, and compare them to the feelings that I already know, then maybe I could use the same method to deal with them as I have previously. My first though was that my feelings were similar to when I have to deal with unreasonably difficult people. In those situation, my ego tells me to stick up for myself, and my immediate reaction is, “I can’t stand this crazy, insulting behavior!” Then my ego kicks up even more, and I try to defend myself! Which ultimately leads to more frustration and anger. I know that staying calm and collected in these situations is the best; anger only feeds more anger.

“No, mom! No pictures!”

I found these helpful suggestions on dealing with difficult people from the Psychology Today site:

  • Keep Your Cool: Maintain self-control. Avoid escalation of problem.
  • Shift from Being Reactive to Proactive: Minimize misinterpretation & misunderstanding. Concentrate energy on problem-solving.
  • Pick Your Battles Save time, energy and grief: Avoid unnecessary problems and complications.
  • Separate the Person From the Issue – An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue.
  • Set Consequence – Proactive not reactive. Shift balance of power.

I can definitely relate to dealing with difficult, and I think this will help me keep the feelings in check when my daughter is being unreasonable. Now I needed to learn more about my tween’s new phase of life, and what that’s all about, so I can better understand what my daughter is going thru. I found this great article on CNN Health, called Parenting: When Puberty Hits

When to expect it: ‘Tude can start before any physical changes. For girls, between 7 and 14; for boys, between 9 and 15

What to expect: Brace yourself: Hormones won’t just change children’s bodies — they’ll go straight to their brains, too. Their emotions will go on more roller-coaster rides than the summer crowds at Six Flags. Sensitive. Moody. Intense. Like you when you’re PMS’ing, but about 1,000 times uglier. As tweens get older, the influx of hormones triggers abrupt mood swings and irritability. Part of the freak-out comes, too, when tweens see the physical changes their bodies are going through and realize they have no control over theme. (Continue reading here >>>)

After reading the CNN Health article it all stated to make much more sense! So, she doesn’t really hate me?! Oh that’s a relief!  It’s just those damn hormones! UGH! I also found this great, and very funny article on Modern Mom! (BTW, this site is full of great articles!)

Holy Hormones! – Handling My Tween’s Pre-Puberty Crying Jags
by Risa Green

Excerpt: If there were ever six words in the English language that resonated more with me, I don’t know what they could possibly be. Okay, maybe “I need a drink right now.” Or, “I must buy some new shoes.” Then again, “I’m not answering to ‘mommy’ anymore” could be another. But anyway, the point is, with “I don’t know why I’m crying,” the kid was definitely speaking my language. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I utter those very words at least once a month, and usually around the same time each month, if you catch my drift.

It was one of those classic, smack-yourself-on-the-side-of-the-head, I Should Have Had a V-8 Commercial moments. She wasn’t tired, or adjusting, or missing camp. She was hormonal. Oy. (Continue reading here >>>)

I absolutely laughed out loud while reading the Modern Mom’s article! I feel so much better now that I have gathered lots of information and a box full of new tools! I just need to be calm, supportive, don’t take it personally and remember that her hormones are responsible for this fluctuating behavior!

In the end, the best part of it all is that I am sober! This is truly a gift! Because if I was not sober, I wouldn’t even be here trying to figure out how to get along with my tween daughter! And things are not all crazy, all the time! There are many great positive changes too. Recently, we have had some really amazing bonding moments, like shopping for the new b.r.a.’s – that is our secret code, because her little brother can’t spell bra! Lol! We also hung out at the mall and tried on fun clothes and goofed around. We like talking about the new hot music stars, and of course we like to chat up on the current happenings with her BFF, and other friends. So, I just need to keep focusing on the positives and continue to practice patience and tolerance, and keep sobriety #1!

If you have any tips on how to deal with a tween, please share in the comments! I would really appreciate any help with this. Thank you!

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.

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*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).



  1. Hormones are wicked, scary things. They’re even worse when they belong to a daughter. My oldest is 13 and we go through distinct ups and downs with her. I realized recently that she seems to have leveled out a little, which probably means we’re due a crash soon. I know it’s out of my control. She’s still a sweet kid – a good kid. I do what I can to not nag her, but sometimes I sound just like my own parents. I hope she doesn’t hate me secretly and it sucks feeling this way, but the good news is the teen years too shall pass. Hang in there. Love the photos of you and your girl.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi byebyebeer! Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I know they seem like they hate us, but from what I read, it’s not true… well, I hope that it’s not true, right! I don’t like that I seem to be repeating the same sentences that my dad used to say, I am really gonna work on that! It’s kinda funny in a way( not haha funny really), I can now totally see why my dad was so frustrated with me, but I am hoping to break the cycle of the negative parenting that he practiced and find a better way to deal. And yes, this too shall pass! Hang in also! Thank you. Hugs!


  2. Oh Maggie! As you know I am not there yet! But…I can tell you that when I’m hormonal all I want is love and validation. Good Luck to you dear friend! If it makes you feel better my 2 year old grabbed my nipple today to pull himself up on my lap. Holy guacamole! Good GAWD is right!! Lol!
    Love & Hugs-

    Liked by 2 people

    • Clairey! You’re a riot! I got a 2 year old too, and his a handful of tantrum madness! Lol! And a 5 year old that keeps trying out what he sees on tv on his friends – last time he tried to wrestle a boy at daycare! That didn’t go over well! It seems each of my kids is in a totally different stage. But the tween – that one is by far the hardest.

      Btw. Hope your nipple is ok! Hugs!


  3. No coincidence here. I had the thought yesterday, “I hate being a parent” and there was no “sometimes” included in that statement. My daughter is 11 too. With my son now 14, I feel a tiny bit prepared, but she is different in many ways too. I like the advice about staying close even though they want to push us away. One of my big challenges in life (sobriety) is knowing when to move in and when to stay back. I feel I an willing to do either, but it’s not always clear to me which one is the wiser path. Your sage advice: Keep sober #1. Love that. I went for a walk last night at 7:30. I just needed to get away from everyone. Thank goodness you’ve all taught me that drinking won’t make me a better mom.


    • Hi Lisa! I have those thoughts too! Or the self bashing ones, “I am the worst parent ever!” Or “what the he’ll I am doing” or “I have no clue what I am doing!”

      So, for now, I guess I am a bit lost, I have to learn how to do this and see what works. I know removing myself is one of the best tools, if I can remember to do that before I react. And yes, staying sober, number 1 or sure, if I am not sober, I am no use to anyone! Thanks Lisa, sending many hugs! Hang in, this too shall pass.


  4. Hi Maggie, I’m not a sober mom, I’m a sober dad. I don’t have a daughter but I have a 10 year old son. My friends that have both sons and daughters tell me that the girls are a bit more diffcult at pre and puberty ages. My son has severe ADHD and him mom and I decided many years ago when the doctors began writting prescritions that we will manage his issues through diet and tolerance. Guess what? That lasted from 3 to now (age 10) we still won’t put him on meds but he is quite the dictator he thinks he is. He might as well get hormonal on us because it he might just be nicer to deal with at times. Dinner time always seems to be the worst around here when he wants to bring his tablet to the kitchen table and blast what ever it is he is looking at on Youtube or one of his many gamer websites. He loses privleges almost 2 or 3 times a week. He ultimatley gets sent to his room and eats cold food. I live on the Serenity Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis. I have been sober many years and if I were not I might get sent to jail just for my thoughts when he acts up.
    One of the features we have in this town is a meeting right after dinner time, It saves my kids butt. (and my blood pressure)
    Good luck with the Tween gal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nelson! Thanks for commenting even though you’re not a mom per say, I should maybe rename the series to Sober Parents! Because I am sure it doesn’t matter, it’s hard on either parent!

      The serenity prayer helps me too. She had another episode this weekend. I treated her like I do the 2 years old when he throws a tantrum, I left her alone. It seemed to have worked. She straightened out and I managed to stay calm, and it was over.

      This morning she said she loved me. That was nice. So I think the biggest thing for me to remember is not to take it personally. I know I am doing the best I can.

      Thanks Nelson! Hugs.


  5. I think we all think the same way, that we’re bad parents. We tie ourselves in knots and heap on the guilt whenever we don’t put our little darlings first. But sometimes we need to put ourselves (and our sobriety) first. All we can do is try our best and if we sometimes fail, try again. We don’t need to be perfect, we don’t need to get it right every time. God knows, I’m sure our parents didn’t. You’re doing a great job with your tween. Some mothers would be happy to just snap right back at their daughters. Some mothers wouldn’t be bothered trying to work out how best to help them. You’re already going that extra mile. Be kind to yourself and just keep loving your daughter as you’re loving her now. I watch with interest as I have a 6 year old who is beginning to test the waters with her brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, thank you for this great comment! I am glad that I am sober and willing to change and adapt to my daughter’s changing behavior. You are right, we are so hard on ourselves as parents and I need to give myself some slack. I think this is part of my people pleasing in a bit. I want to be the cool mom, but I am realizing that being cool is not going to help her, I still need to be a parent. And that’s ok. This is all so new, so I need to remember that I am learning and it will get easier.

      Thank you! Hugs!


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