It Might Get Messy in the Middle

Summer is over. The school year has begun, and the inevitable has happened. Miss Double Digits officially started sixth grade. I have a middle schooler. Where did the time go? I mean seriously, where? Because the last I checked, I was frustrated by her not liking sippy cups and putting stickers on my car windows. She’s eleven and growing up right before my eyes.

I’ve found myself at a crossroads of sorts. While she is about to adjust to being in middle school, my parenting is going to adjust to not being in elementary. As parents, our expertise is only as old as our children are. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that we can handle these transitions with ease. That we’ve walked a similar road before, and things should feel familiar, but the truth is, this is unchartered waters.

Whatever parenting stage you’re in, I think that we could all use a little encouragement. Speaking from my “middle school” perspective, here are a few tips that would be helpful for a parent or child as you walk into these transitional years together. All of which I am sharing with Miss Double Digits.

Don’t ask questions that could have one-word answers. Why? Because that’s all you’ll get.

Parents: If you want to know how their day really went, try not to ask “So how was your day?” The answer will vary between good, fine, okay and alright. And you know that you want more details than that. Try to ask more engaging questions so that you can have a conversation about school instead. (There are plenty of websites with conversation starters for parents.)

Kids: The same rule applies to you – inside the classroom. If you want to gain clarity about an assignment or instructions, don’t be afraid to ask. You won’t know unless you do. Your success depends on your willingness to get the answers you need. And I’m pretty sure that someone else has the same question.

This is for the parents and kids – You’re already awesome!

The days ahead might be challenging. There will be times where you are not sure that you are doing the best job, but remind yourself that you felt this way last year too, and you made it! Things turned out okay, so you’re on to the next level which means you’re pretty awesome.

Beware of drama.

Parents: The PTO can be a room full of petty princesses! Be aware of your surroundings. Mom text chats happen overnight, but the focus should be on your children and the event/activity for the benefit of the school. If you find yourself getting caught up in drama, take a step back. Make sure to remove your emotions from it and then continue the conversation. If you can’t, it is perfectly fine to say this is not serving me, and walk away.

Kids: Drama comes in many forms; just don’t get caught in it. Choose your friends wisely. You don’t have to follow the crowd. Ever! Be kind to each other. This could be a challenging time for all of you.

It has been almost a full week of sixth grade and Miss Double Digits seems to be adjusting well. And although these middle school years will be challenging for everyone in our house – 3 kids at 3 different schools and more hormones and homework than the law should allow – I am confident that we will be a stronger family because of it. If nothing else, I will officially figure out if I am smarter than a sixth grader.

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