As my daughter prepares for her first year of middle school, I am having all sorts of feelings. There are moments when I am excited but anxious the next.
I want my daughter to enjoy and be successful in middle school. I have an opportunity to actively and positively guide and influence her experience.
Parenting older kids has a way of making parents feel as if they are alone. Research shows that parents of older kids are more stressed than parents of newborns!
Parenting middle schoolers isn’t a time for us to separate but a time for us to unite.
As a result, I am writing this series not only as therapy for myself but to encourage and equip other parents of older kids.
Parents, we’ve experienced middle school as kids. This time around though, we get to experience it as adults. If you’re like me, you may not be looking forward to it!
Have you thought about why you’re not looking forward to this new life chapter?
I have and here’s what’s occupying my brain space as she enters middle school:
Can she handle the transition?
Will she be bullied?
Will she stand up for herself?
Will she stand up for others?
Can she handle old friends not being so friendly anymore?
Will she be true to herself?
Can she handle social media and all that comes with it?
How will I react to her desire for independence?
How will our relationship change?
Why my fears are a danger to her
My middle school years weren’t completely horrible but there were a thousand other places I would have rather been than there! Regardless of my experience, my daughter does not deserve to have my experiences laid upon her.
I must keep myself in check so that I don’t live through her in order to correct my boring middle school years.
It’s pretty easy to do, right?
I felt that if I wore the “right” clothes, had the “perfect” hairstyle, and laughed at the cruel jokes being made about someone else, I would have been accepted in middle school.
So glad there was no social media back then!
I never had an “open door policy” with my parents, so I am not sure how they felt about my growing need for independence or if they ever thought about how our relationship would develop as I became a teenager.
Whoa, I got issues and these issues can be a danger to her. My emotional scars are not her burden to bear, she’s got a ton of emotions she’s already dealing with.
How I am facing my fears
I admit it, I can go overboard with trying to shield her from the meanness of growing up.
I’ve never thought of myself as a helicopter parent but over the past few years, I’ve been gaining altitude.
This is weird because this is not my first time at the rodeo, my son is 21! Having a daughter changes things, sorry if that doesn’t fit the current feminist movement.
Regardless of boy or girl, it’s still important for parents to not project our insecurities onto our children. By doing that, we set up a checklist that we judge them by. It has the potential to crush their spirits, teaching them to rely on other people’s opinions rather than trusting their own judgment.
The road to recovery
Here’s how I am recovering:
- Acknowledging that I have been doing this and have made progress in dealing with my emotions.
- Confronting the things I feel I missed during my childhood.
- Allowing her to do activities she enjoys not ones I picked for her.
- Letting her be herself
- Letting go of my perfection checklist
- Focusing on guiding her rather than nagging her
- Being not just a mom
Middle school represents a time of transition for both parent and child. All of the things occupying my brain space are normal, I can choose how I react to them. I cannot base my reaction on my middle school experiences because my daughter and I are two different people.
So, I am learning to embrace this time of change and am excited to see my daughter develop (one eyeroll at a time!) into the young lady she is meant to be.
What do you remember about your middle school experience?