Recently, there was a study published which concluded that mothers of middle schoolers were the most stressed and most unhappy of all mothers. Ask any mother of a middle schooler her response to this study and you will be greeted with an eye roll and a sarcastic “ Really? Ya think?”.
I have to admit to being totally unprepared for this stressful period when my first born entered 6th grade. Now that I am going through it a second time, I have built up some defenses. You can read about that in this post. But I have also armed myself with a few good books to help me through (and some good friends with whom to commiserate and a lot of wine. A. LOT. OF. WINE).
1.Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Catherine O’Neill Grace and Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D.
There is a line from this book that has become my parenting motto, “ Don’t interview for pain”. Really, I should get this tattooed on my hand. I have repeated it to myself, my sister and other parents of middle schoolers. Never has better parenting advice been given! This book is chock full of other great information that will quelch all of your worries about the middle school social hierarchy.
2.The Blessing of a Skinned Knee by Wendy Mogel, Ph D
The author has another book, The Blessing of a B Minus, which deals more specifically with teenagers. It is on my “to read” list but I haven’t gotten to it yet. But The Blessing of a Skinned Knee has been on my night table for years. I would pull it out whenever I needed the reminder that my kids learn valuable lessons when things don’t go their way. I can’t protect them from every little thing nor should I.
3. How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success by Julie Lythcott-Haims
A few years ago, I became riveted by a podcast titled Getting In: A podcast about the college admissions process. The topic was interesting… a glimpse into the future! But even more, I loved the host, Julie Lythcott-Haims. As soon as I realized she had written a book, I read it. It is so easy to fall into the minutiae of parenting that we can’t see the forest through the trees. This book really helped me put everything in perspective. What is my end game as a parent? To raise happy, healthy, successful, self-reliant adults. Like Wendy Mogel, Julie Lythcott-Haims reminds the reader that failure is OK. Our kids learn to be resilient and to overcome setbacks. She also talks about concrete skills kids need to learn like doing laundry and cooking. Considering that my son can barely cut his own steak, it was a good reminder to teach both him and my daughter life skills like how to boil water!
4.The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control of Their Lives By William Stixrud, Ph.D. and Ned Johnson
This has become maybe my all time favorite parenting book. I want everyone to read it! And it’s not just for parents of older kids. It can be helpful to all parents. Basically, the gist is that parents must act as a consultant to their children. Not as managers. At the start of this school year, I’ve implemented some of the ideas in this book with my own kids one of whom is a sophomore in high school. The results have been pretty amazing.
So when your teenager is stressing you out, grab a glass of wine and one of these books! And remember, it’s got to get better, right???