The year you send your child to middle school is the year so many of us dread. We ask the parents of older kids how middle school is, what they did, and what we should know. We go to meetings and tour the school and meet the teachers, but it really isn’t the school that is the issue it is the age. There is a reason we dread our kids going to middle school – it’s because we REMEMBER middle school!
Middle school is the span of a few years when kids change the most. They walk in looking like children and in only three years they walk out looking like full fledged teenagers, and everything about them is different. Not only do they have new bodies (or will shortly) they have new friends, new opinions, new hobbies, new habits, and sometimes even a new language which leaves us completely clueless.
When my first child went to middle school, she went in with a group of great friends from elementary school and left middle with a whole new group of friends who fit her interests better. There was no drama – just interests that changed. Totally normal, but those elementary friends…well, their moms were my friends. Insert sad face here. Now I just don’t see them as much as I used to. So when her friends changed, so did mine. I remember that happened when she started elementary school and I didn’t have the time for play dates like before, and I am sure it will happen again when she goes to college.
There are more changes in middle school, changes you don’t realize will happen but they do. Moms that have been at home suddenly go back to work. PTO just isn’t the same, there isn’t as much busy work for a mom at the school. Some moms find other ways to keep themselves busy; some pick up new hobbies, join new groups, or start classes. Middle school is like a new time for kids and for moms to find a new found freedom and fly.
There is a dark side too – a secret side people don’t talk about. Moms start to take sides or to judge other moms based on her kids. It is ugly and no one likes to think about it but we do, we all do. We watch the other kids and hear about the things they do and we judge them and we decide who we think will be good friends for our kids and let me tell you it is okay! Our middle school kids are not old enough to always choose the right friends. There will be kids that are not supervised like we supervise our kids, or don’t respect adults like we expect out of our children to and it is okay to decide that a kid is not a good choice for a friend. But I’ll give you some advice from a mom of one daughter who survived middle school and the other who is so different and is still learning- the hard way.
Encourage your kids to do the following things:
1. Always be friendly – just because you don’t want your kid to hang out with them doesn’t mean they can’t be friendly
2. Never talk bad about others – I tell my girls that I am the only person that they can trust to come home and rant to and it won’t be repeated, they need a safe place to vent, it always leads to positive discussions on how to handle situations and people
3. Realize that all people have something good about them – we all judge people by appearances or social status but people are so much deeper than they appear and we should always look for the good in people.
Middle school is not easy, we all dread it. I have two more going next year, but it’s just a short time and they will be grown. I know there will be tears but we will all survive. If you think you needed your mommy friends when you have babies you will definitely need them during middle school.