As parents, we are all about the adorable elementary years. And high school is a pre-flight time to relish with our teens.
But what about the middle school years?
How do we best support our preadolescents in the awkward, undulating preteen stage?
Here are three things middle schoolers want you to know:
1 · Don’t forget about us!
Yes, we act tough and invulnerable, but just seconds ago, you were our everything, and we were yours. No matter how independent we seem, we need the steady reassurance you are there if–if we run to you, if we are hurt, if we decide we need a moment of reassurance.
But we don’t want to admit that.
We just need to know you are there—if.
2 · We may act like we don’t care, but we do.
Please understand that we have all kinds of new influences on our lives right now: several teachers instead of only one or two; social media; bullying; confusing sexual messages, pictures, and talk; and a sea of insecure classmates.
Trust us, but be a strong enough parent to set limits, which are like safety bars on roller coasters. We’re going to push back against the bar of your protection, but it’s to ensure you care enough to keep us safe.
The more we push you away, the more we need you to stand strong and close. As you do so, talk less. Listen more. We will make mistakes; help us learn from them.
3 · We are terribly insecure.
Every day in middle school is a mine field. Friends are nice one day, enemies the next. It takes a lot of emotional energy to navigate the social landscape, and though sometimes we are sassy, or indifferent, or moody, or giddy, or all of those at once, we are just trying to figure it all out. Sometimes our hormones make us feel like we’re going crazy.
So when we drive you crazy with all our moodiness, please reassure us it’s normal. We posture and pretend and emulate others to try and fit in.
Please, please tell us we are okay just as we are.
Your affirmation is something we desperately need right now, no matter how we act or what we say. Your patience and “no-matter-what” love is like pure oxygen in our lives.
And Mom, Dad?
It may not seem like it, but we hear everything you’re saying and are watching all you’re doing, and it makes a difference.
We may not tell you enough, but we love and appreciate you, each and every day.
Charlene Vermeulen is a wife, mother, Grammie, follower of Christ, and passionate youth worker. With over thirty years of experience working as a teacher and school administrator with middle and high school students, she still learns from young people every day.
She writes faith-based books for young adults to help them not only enjoy fast-paced, middle- and high school-themed stories but also understand how to deal with current social challenges and issues as well.