If you’re the parent of a middle schooler, you may feel a little—no, a lot—crazy. You’re not alone. Your middle schooler also feels crazy. Between surging hormones and friendship issues on steroids, your middle schooler is walking in a daily war zone.
“Leave Us Alone—But Don’t Leave Us Alone!”
Middle schoolers fight for independence. Simultaneously, they want you by their side. Though all signals point to “LEAVE ME ALONE!,” preadolescents desperately need and want your expertise.
That said, don’t hover. Think of yourself and your middle schooler as magnets. Sometimes your polarity attracts, sometimes it repels. It’s beyond difficult, and often leaves you feeling hurt and alone, but keep trying. Your child needs to know he or she is loved “no matter what.”
“Trust Us—At Least a Little”
In childhood, children haven’t learned to think on their own. But by preteen years, children need the opportunity to not only think on their own but to make the accompanying mistakes as well. Natural consequences teach them in ways your lectures, advice, and warnings cannot.
Expect middle schoolers to make short-sighted choices and decisions. It’s part of their maturation process. And every time they make a mistake, praise God it’s not a life-altering negative one but one that will help them make wiser decisions as adults.
“Never Give Up on Us”
Yes, middle schoolers are aliens. They are no longer the sweet, hand-holding children who think their parents have the answers to life. They are just starting to stare life in the face for themselves and tell it who they are.
Show your middle schoolers your faith as you live it out day to day, and let them hear your honest prayers for help. You are modeling what humility, doubt, trust, faith, and perseverance are—all qualities with which your young person is struggling.
“Pray for Us—And for Yourself”
As your children struggle, so do you. Let your middle schoolers see you on your knees. Let them see you in prayer—at your dinner table or in the morning before you face the day—as you turn to God for help and hope.
And even though it may seem awkward at first, especially if you haven’t done it in a while, tuck your middle schooler in for the night. Pray with him or her.
And don’t forget that good-night kiss on the forehead, even if they wipe it off. They’ll still appreciate it.
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.
cover photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.