For many of us, even hearing the word “Middle School” brings back memories of awkwardness, embarrassment, even terror.
You think I am talking about our own experience in Middle School? Not at all. I am referring to having our own children endure those pre-teen and early-teen years. In our home, the middle school years were the most difficult for us to navigate. By the time that our kids reached high school, many of the challenges (for both us and our children) had already been faced.
During the three years when each of our kids suffered through Middle School, we as parents began to discover how important instilling values, truths, and faith had been during their early years.
Trust is Priceless
One phrase that we began to use while they were young proved to be an anchor for each of them as they entered adolescence. This truth is simple and it may seem obvious, but to a pre-teen it often does not ring true.
“ONE OF THE GREATEST ASSETS THAT YOU WILL HAVE DURING YOUR TEENAGE YEARS IS THE TRUST OF YOUR PARENTS.”
Middle School Choices Begin the Journey
One reason that Middle School is so difficult is that the students begin to make choices — some good and some bad. They cannot drive yet, so as parents we still have a good bit of “control” over where they are, who they are with, and how they spend their time. But they are now able to choose their friends, decide how they will behave, and begin to form their values.
During Middle School, the consequences/benefits of the choices they make (especially the poor ones) do not have a chance to fully reveal themselves.
The “cool” friends that are skipping school, lying to teachers and parents, or even beginning to dabble in “safe” drugs (their term) seem at the time to be merely fun, independent, and perhaps even (only?) a little dangerous.
As they enter adolescence, their interests and conversations begin to take a direction that we as parents sense is not ideal. In their minds we are old fashioned, out-of-touch, and don’t know what life is like in today’s world. To them their actions and rationale seem reasonable. They tell us “How much trouble can we get into? It is my life and I should be able to decide.”
For now, the journey is not really hazardous. But they are developing a pattern that can soon lead to more dangerous activities.