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To the Mothers of Incoming Middle Schoolers

To the Mothers of Incoming Middle Schoolers

First of all – breathe. Breeeeaaaathe. It’s going to be okay.

Middle School is now behind my household (for a few more years anyway), which means:
1) We’re now staring into the void of high school while realizing, and
2) We’re old, and
3)We’ve successfully navigated middle school.

Here’s my guide to getting through it. (I won’t even say it’s to successfully to get you through it, because to be honest, just surviving felt like enough reason to celebrate, toss the confetti and pass on my wisdom.)

A Parent’s Guide to Surviving Middle School: 5 Tips

Lockers are sort of a big deal.

Look, it doesn’t matter if it’s a big deal to you NOW as a fully-grown adult. When you’re eleven, that locker means something. It can be overwhelming. Don’t dismiss the intimidation of the locker. (Looking back, I wish we had made a bigger fuss over practicing the combination lock, because that was a HUGE stumbling block.)

Don’t take anything personally.

This was a really hard thing. All of a sudden, you – Mom or Dad – don’t know ANYTHING. Sorry, you just don’t. And it might be that you legitimately don’t know something, or it might just be that you don’t communicate it in a way that your middle schooler can interpret. YOU CAN NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY.

Can't you just feel the angst???
Can’t you just feel the angst???
Middle School is specifically for mistakes.

This was also an especially hard lesson for me as a parent to absorb. Middle school is the first time they may have to change classes, or have seven periods in their day, or have to balance a curriculum on a laptop instead of a binder. These three years are for you and your middle schooler to fail – and then find lessons in the failure to help them succeed in high school, when colleges REALLY are paying attention. It’s basically a three year dress rehearsal for the really big show.

They’re still kids.

I remember that, when I was in middle school, I believed myself to be Fully Grown. Like, why didn’t I have car and voting privilege yet? Because I was GROWN, y’all. But you know what? I still wanted to be able to play on a playground and go see animated movies and eat sugary cereal in front of cartoons on Saturday morning. They are in this odd in-between phase, and it’s weird for them. Allow them any and every opportunity to still be kids. They have plenty of time to be adults later.

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It feels eternal in the beginning and then suddenly, you’re getting emails from your kid to remind you about high school orientation. Sit down and do the math to see when your middle schooler will graduate high school and realize how soon that happens. So while I can’t tell you to ENJOY this time (with a straight face or soberly), be cognizant of just how quickly it flies. And tuck them in every night as long as they’ll let you… or as long as they maintain a bedtime earlier than yours.

May the Odds Be In Your Favor

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This article was updated July 2023.


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