Parenting a middle school aged child can be a nerve-wracking (but very rewarding) experience. Last September, The Huffington Post published an article called, “Top 15 Things Your Middle School Kid Wished You Knew”. I found the four excerpts below to be particularly relevant and directly related to what I often hear from students and parents alike. Similar frustrations and challenges are felt by parents everywhere, as are the joys of parenting a middle school child.
I need to make some of my own choices, and maybe some of my own mistakes. Don't do my work for me or get me out of every jam. You don't need to be better than me at everything. Don't condescend; you don't need to impart your elderly wisdom on me if I have a problem. Please wait for me to ask for your help. If I don't ask for it, I might want to work it out for myself. Let me rant without offering advice. Sometimes that's all I really need, just to talk my way through something and for you to just listen to me.
Sometimes I'm going to be moody and annoyed and frustrated. You need to just let that happen (though you shouldn't let me be rude to you; that's weird and embarrassing). It might just be a mood or something might be going on that I'm not ready to talk about yet. If you hang around doing stuff near me and don't interrupt or try to solve it as soon as I start, I might feel comfortable talking with you about things.
I will fight you every step of the way if you make me do stuff I don't want to do (get some exercise, do my homework, write a thank-you note, practice piano, apologize to my sister, take a shower, wear deodorant... so many things), but you should make me do them anyway. I know I will feel better if I sweat and shower each day, and develop my study skills, and show up tomorrow prepared, and, and, and... I know! But please don't overwhelm me. I might not be able to do what I should right away. I might need reminders, later, which will annoy me completely. Remind me anyway.
I need to have private jokes with my friends and not explain them to you. It's how we bond. You don't need to be involved in every aspect of my life to still be loved and needed by me.
As an educator, students make coming to work every day such a pleasure. Every day with them is a good day. They work hard, they play hard, and they are funny, compassionate and kind. Parenting a middle school student comes with its own set of challenges, but knowing that your challenges are shared by other parents is important. I hope you find these insights useful as you look ahead with your elementary child and raise your middle school child.