I came across this article recently about parenting middle schoolers.
It’s from a mom of a middle school kid who is sharing the things her middle school kid has expressed they need without words. Because everyone who has a middle school can tell you the words aren’t always the best indicator of what they really want.
You can click on it and check it out for yourself, or you can trust me to give you the crib notes: middle school is rough, for you and for your kid. They’re super confused, a little lost, and eager to find their ways, but deep down, they want love, respect, trust, and freedom. So, basically, your middle school kid is still a human even if s/he kinda does act like a monster from time to time.
The article was a good reminder and it inspired me to come up with a few things I’d like my middle school kid to know about me. After parenting two kids through middle school (ok, technically he has 3 weeks to go), with one on his way in, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the misunderstandings and communication gaps that pop up when you’re trying to parent your middle school kid.
My kids will probably never read this (my blog is laaaaame, apparently), but it’s a good reminder for myself and anyone else with a middle school kid, that sometimes you just have to take a step back, silence the crazy, and say what you mean.
Parenting: 15 Things I Wish My Middle School Kid Knew
1. This is hard for all of us.
Middle school is tough. I remember it.
I know I’m super old and stuff, but I was still a middle school kid myself once and I remember how completely annoying my entire family was then. But here’s the thing, you’re kind of annoying to us too! And, I don’t mean that in a mean way at all. I mean that in a I’m-you’re-mom-and-sometimes-I-have-to-give-it-to-you-real way.
With all of the changes and experiences and pressures are weighing on you, I’m not even mad that you come home and snap at your brother and your dog and me and your dad (okay, I’m a little mad, but only like right when you do it, not deep down). I know why you’re doing it, we all do, and we 100% forgive you. We really just want to be here to support you in whatever way you need us too.
I just want you to know that this is hard for us too. We are learning the new you and the new boundaries you’re setting for all of us. Your dad and I are learning to let go and trust your judgement. Your little brother is learning to let go and do things without you.
We all have our own little struggles through this process and we have to be gracious with our patience while we adjust to this whole you’re-gonna-be-your-own-person thing.
2. Your siblings are struggling too.
I know it’s hard to think about them while you have so many other things to think about, but I want you to remember how important these people have been for all of your life. They’re your first friends, your fiercest friends, and your forever friends and, no matter how many other friends you make, I hope you remember the people who had your back when you were still rocking light-up character shoes like they were cool.
Your older sibling is learning to include you and respect you more, and your younger one is missing you desperately. But, when the iPhones are put away and no one is worrying about Snapchat streaks and you just need to be yourself—your goofy, loving, cuddly, obnoxious, adventurous self that most of your school “friends” can’t appreciate—your brothers will be here for it.
3. I know you’re growing up, and I need a little time to adjust.
Like a week ago, you were still sitting on my lap on the couch. It was hard because you were so heavy, but I was totally down for it and I would be today too. Because you will always be my baby and you will never be too big to cuddle with me.
That said, I get it. You’re not a baby anymore and I need to accept it. I just need time to adjust my parenting, okay? I’ve been doing all of the things for you for a really long time and in every situation it’s my first thought to keep doing them. I promise I’ll get better, it just won’t happen overnight.
4. I love it when to talk to me.
About anything. Everything. Nothing at all. I love hearing about your day and your friends and your Fortnight victories. Okay, lying about that last one, but if it’s all you’ve got then I am so for it.
5. But, I won’t force you unless you start making bad choices.
Then, all bets are off.
The most important thing to me is keeping you safe, mentally and physically, and if I you’re not doing that then we will be having a talk.
6. I am so proud of you.
Even when you make bad decisions or do something I don’t especially approve of, I am still proud of YOU.
As a person.
I might not be proud of your choices, but I am also going to be proud to be your mother.
7. I trust you.
Because you’ve never given me any reason not to.
When I ask you where you’re going, who’s going to be there, and when you’re coming home, it’s not because I want to “be all up in , your business”. (Note: 14 year olds, as a rule, don’t have business.) It’s because I want to keep you safe.
When I told you to add me to Find Friends so I could track your phone, it wasn’t because I wanted to “stalk you”. It’s because I want to keep you safe.
I realize my parents didn’t have all of this stuff when I was coming up, but I also didn’t have a handheld computer in my hands at 14, so we are all adapting.
I just want you to know that trusting you is not the issue here, trusting the rest of the world is.
8. I love how YOU you are.
I don’t expect you to be just like me (even though you kinda are), and I don’t want you to want what I wanted out of life.
I love how YOU you are-how you live your life, infused with your personality, motivated by your passions, focused on your goals.
I don’t want you to change to please me, or your dad, or your friends, or The Man, or anyone else. I love the YOU you are and I hope you grow into yourself feeling that.
9. I love being around your friends.
Even the annoying ones. It helps me understand you better and it also makes me feel safer letting you go and do things when I know the people you’re going to do those things with.
10. And, I’m sorry if I embarrass you.
I swear I’m not doing it on purpose and I hate thinking that you might be ashamed of me. But, it doesn’t mean I’m gonna stop showing up—I’m never gonna do that. I’m happy to talk about things I can do to make this easier for you and I’m not gonna be offended if you tell me to stop saying stuff is “on fleek”. I never felt right about that one anyway.
11. I’m afraid, but I don’t want you to be.
There are so many dangers in this world that I hope you avoid-wrong paths to take, bad crowds to follow, dangerous choice to make.
I’m afraid of things that happen to brown skin boys when they become men, or even when they’re still children. I’m afraid someone is going to take you from me in a way that means I’ll never hold you again. I’m afraid of all of the injustices, inequities, and burdens placed upon you.
But, I want you to be brave, confident, strong, and focused. I want you to stand up for yourself and your beliefs, fight for what you know to be right and just, and be a leader for those who need leading.
Safely. Because more than anything I need you here, in my life, in this world, being you.
12. I know I don’t know everything.
I never will.
What I do know is a lot of stuff about life in general and what I need to give you to make sure you have a good one.
13. But, sometimes I’m wrong.
And, when I am, I’m all about admitting it. I want you to know that I am not perfect, I am not infallible, and I am human. I just happen to be a human who ALWAYS has your best interests at heart because I love you.
I know my rules feel stupid.
But I hope you know they are to keep you safe and make you great.
More than anything I want you to be and whatever you want in life, and my goal is to help you get there. The rules your dad and I have are designed to help you learn right and wrong, make choices that will help you succeed in life, and leave the world with a decent person. Of course we can talk about them—we can talk about anything—but you should also know that they may never change. Or, they may never change in the ways you want them to
14. You’re right, it’s not fair.
Life isn’t fair, but it is what you make of it and I believe that you can make something great.
15. I love you.
From deep. In ways you won’t understand until you become a parent yourself.
When that happens, I hope I am there to witness it.
Already through the middle school kid years? Check out these 20 Unexpected Things You’ll Be Happy to Hear About Parenting Teens