A quick note today, in reflection of a conversation I had today with my sister, Katherine. Having navigated through two daughters' middle school years and in the thick of G.T.'s, I'm going to throw out some things I've learned along the way.
Middle Schoolers will try your patience like no one else, except possibly toddlers. They are growing and changing, discovering that they are turning into Big Teenagers and that heady knowledge makes them act like you've never seen them act before. Silly, loud, attention getting, bossy, cool. Oh, and NOW they like the opposite sex! Who is "going out" with who is a big deal. No parent is really ready for THAT!
Since whole books are written on this subject, I will keep my points to a bulleted list.
- Stay POSITIVE!
- Skip the sermons and moralizing. They will stop talking to you if they know they will get a lecture.
- Admit that you don't have all the answers. They already know you don't anyway.
- Don't bury your head in the sand, but don't try and control EVERY LITTLE THING.
- Realize your kid will make mistakes in judgment and choices. You want them to try their wings BEFORE they leave home. Now is the time for learning from mistakes, when the stakes are smaller.
- Think like a coach. Plan strategies ahead of time. ("Call me before making plans," etc.)
- Sincerely compliment them as often as possible. Let them overhear you telling someone how proud you are of them.
- Try not to over-react. Middle School is a tough time! Would you want to go back to 7th grade? This too shall pass.
- Have as much fun together as possible.
- Encourage, encourage, encourage.
Most importantly, I've learned to pray. I pray for wisdom, guidance and the ability to keep my mouth shut when I should. I pray for help to keep my words kind and uplifting when conversations about issues are necessary.
Then, hang on for the ride!