The middle school years can be tough. And not just for the kids. They can be challenging for parents as well.
As your child enters adolescence, your parenting approach will likely have to shift into a few different gears. There’s a lot going on, after all. Not only is the whirlwind of puberty at your child’s doorstep, but his or her world is shifting. Family often becomes an afterthought, while friends and independence take top priority.
What’s a parent to do?
With our own boys, Jean and I have learned a couple things. First, we try not to minimize the day-to-day events they encounter, even when so much of it can appear trivial to us. That’s because, to a teen, those seemingly insignificant matters can feel like pivotal moments on which all of life hinges.
Second, when our boys face a challenge, we try not to swoop in and fix things. We’ve found that if we’ll relax our grip a little, it’s easier not to force solutions on them too quickly. Our goal is to listen closely to their heart, not just their words, and to help them discover an answer.
Of course, the growth pains my wife and I face as parents are not unique to us. Nor will they be to you. I think that will become abundantly clear when you hear today’s broadcast, “Navigating the Middle School Years.”
Our guests, authors Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuña, say, “Middle schoolers want more than anything else to be listened to, to be understood, and to be taken seriously.” That’s a delicate balance for parents to achieve. You have to be engaged enough in your teen’s life to influence their choices, yet not so overbearing you become, as one middle school student called it, “an eight hundred pound gorilla.”
Adolescence is a critical period. Teens who don’t have good relationships with their parents during middle school often face a very difficult time in high school. That’s an important reason I think you’ll find our conversation so valuable. We have a lot of great tips to help you and your middle schooler thrive in these years. You can hear our program today on your local radio station or on our free, downloadable mobile phone app.
After you’ve heard our discussion, let me know what you think. How have you strengthened your relationship with your middle schooler through the upheaval often accompanying these years?