Sunday, September 3, 2017

One Thing Every Middle School Parent Should Know

(Inside: How to prepare your child for middle school.)

When I was in middle school, my mom came and sat next to me for two class periods to, ahem, "encourage" me to behave. I didn't deal well with the big emotions of those transition years so I reached for quality coping strategies - disrespecting my teachers and acting out in class. (Nailed middle school.)

But, now I’m on the other side: my oldest son is starting these in-between years. 




It’s weird because I’ve always been excited for him to start each new grade. Kindergarten – you get to learn to read! Third grade – you finally get to be a “big buddy” to younger students! Fifth grade – you get to try band!

But I just can’t get excited about my son starting middle school.

Instead, I feel the opposite. 


When I think of these transition years I think of: cliques, bullies, name brand clothing, intense sports, gossip and heightened academic stress. Then there’s the measuring stick: How does my body compare to others? Why isn’t my skill set as cool as yours?


Mama, do you feel the same way? Apprehension.(Maybe even dread.)



We don’t want our kid to experience rejection. We don’t want our kid to be the one not invited to the party, left off the team, or dealing with social media drama. Nor do we want our kid to go through the big emotional swings: one day life is bliss, then the next day everything and everyone should eat dirt. We don’t want them to struggle with switching classes or fail because they can’t seem to get the hang of organization. We want to forever wrap them in a bubble where only joy and love and success live.

I thought maybe we should all warn our kids of the potential dangers of middle school. Because they should be "ready." But I tried this. I sat my son down and unleashed potential horrors, he looked back at me with confusion. He doesn’t see middle school the same way I do. He's...wait for it...looking forward to it.




So maybe our experiences aren't needed to prepare our kids for middle school.

Instead...

We need the wisdom we gained from our experiences to prepare 
us.


Knowing this one thing can ready us: There is power in viewing the challenges of middle school as opportunities.

If our kids experience rejection, we get to teach them about a God who never rejects them, show them a family who always loves them, and help them seek out beautiful and authentic friendships. If our kids experience big emotions, we get to help them untangle their thoughts and better understand themselves in the process. If they do poorly in school, we get to teach them to persevere, ask for help and reach for resources. We can take all the middle school challenges and transform them into opportunities to help our children learn to deal with life's inevitable bumps while they are still in the safety of our homes. 

Yes, our kids might be nervous...but they're ready.


And you know what – with all the knowledge and problem-solving skills we've acquired through our experiences... We're ready too.

Besides, there's a solid chance we'll all - parents and kids - sail right through these years. But if not – if it all goes awry – we can always fall back on sitting next to our misbehaving kid in class. After all, that’s proven to have worked in the past. (I mean...not that I'd know...)


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