How to Truly Love Your Middle Schooler
Who remembers those hard middle school years? Today, I welcome The Better Mom contributor, Tricia Goyer, to share 6 things to know about your middle schooler to stay connected with them through their teen years. -XO, Ruth
“Why don’t you just grow up? You’re thirteen. Act like it.” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.
“How can I act like it?” my daughter said in desperation. “I’ve never been thirteen before!”
I took a deep breath and sighed. My daughter was right. I was expecting a lot from my her. After all, she’d just turned thirteen, and thinking back I remember how challenging those middle school years were. They were hard. During middle school there is a lot of change going on. In fact one way to describe these years is change.
To truly love middle schoolers it helps to know a few things about them ... and remember what they’re going through.
1. Know middle schoolers often feel torn between wanting to be a kid and wanting to grow up. Some days they want to play with toys. Other days they want to act like their much older peers. They often feel pressured by friends toward movies, games and social media interactions that they may feel uncomfortable with, and they don’t know how to respond. Even though middle schoolers might fight your boundaries, inwardly they are thankful for them. Explain why you’re giving specific boundaries, and let your middle school know you’ll be there as they continue to grow up.
2. Know middle schoolers don’t have all the answers, even if they feel they do. They have questions, but sometimes they don’t know how to ask. Talk about life issues with them. Bring up things that “other kids” are struggling with, and let them know that they can come to you with questions.
3. Know middler schoolers have worries, but they often hold them inside. They often have problems with friends, troubles at school, peer pressure, and changes within their bodies and themselves. Explain ways that you deal with your worries. Share how God helps.
4. Know middle schoolers long for your praise. In middle school everyone else has an opinion, and they are usually negative opinions. More than that, middle schoolers often feel as if they don’t live up to your high expectations, so every word of praise is appreciated. Point out ways you see your middle schooler growing in positive ways. Praise how you see them transforming before your eyes.
5. Know middle schoolers want to connect with you. Find ways to show you care in ways they feel it. Be familiar with their world, and ask questions about what’s important to them. Spend time with them, and let them know how much you enjoy it.
6. Know middle schoolers are looking to you to be the example. They want to see you seeking God, doing the right thing, and being honest about your own struggles. Even though it may be hard, be genuine. Middle schoolers know when you aren’t being honest. Also, during this time your relationship may change from directing to coaching. Help middle schools make decisions, instead of just demanding your way.
All these things will show love to your middle in ways they can feel and understand. And as you show your love it’ll keep that connection strong through their teen years.
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