Middle School Misery
Being the mother of a middle schooler is not for the faint of heart. This week in our house has pretty much been middle school hell. Nothing shocking. Nothing major. Just your average, run of the mill, pedestrian middle school drama. One of my daughter’s “friends” decided to leave her out of a group chat and then managed to turn the other girls against my her.
I’ve been to the middle school rodeo before so I managed to keep my cool. I didn’t down a bottle of wine (well, at least not a full bottle), I didn’t cry, I didn’t call the parent of the offending girl. Two years ago, it would have been a completely different story.
When our son started 6th grade, we were completely unprepared for such social upheaval. First of all, we didn’t think such things happen with boys. They do. We certainly didn’t think they’d happen to our son. They did. When it did happen, I didn’t think he’d recover. He did. And I didn’t think I’d survive the rest of middle school without being medicated. I didn’t. Anti-anxiety medication should be automatically prescribed to all parents of incoming 6th graders.
5 Sanity Saving Tips:
Medication aside, I have learned a thing or two over the past few years that will help all parents of middle schoolers survive these awful, awkward, anxiety-provoking years.
- Take care of yourself. As with all other problems in life, things look worse when you are tired, eating poorly and not exercising. Make sure to sleep. Get plenty of exercise. Model healthful nutrition for your children and avoid using food or alcohol to manage your emotions. And if things get really tough, seek some professional help.
- Connect with friends and other parents. Misery loves company! Joking aside, it is always helpful to realize you (and your child) are not the only one facing these issues. You can get some good advice from parents who have already been there or bounce ideas off parents currently living through middle school drama. Even better, spend time with friends where talk of middle school is off limits. Allow yourself a break from the worry and drama.
- Get to know your child’s guidance counselor. As parents, we are in middle school for only a few years. These brave souls have made a career out of it. Think things are bad? They have probably seen much worse. They can give you a reality check, provide advice, and offer assistance to your child if necessary. I have come to the realization that middle school teachers, administrators and guidance counselors should be made more than all other educators!!
- Don’t interview for pain. I learned this tip from one of my favorite parenting books as I mentioned in this post. Basically, don’t continually ask your child about the situation he or she is dealing with. So, this week, I can’t keep asking “are the girls still ignoring you? How was the walk to school? Were you invited to pizza?” By continually asking, we draw attention to it and make it seem like an even bigger deal.
- Read relevant books, blogs, and articles. Educate yourself on what is and isn’t normal middle school behavior. Find out the best strategies for helping your child and make sure your spouse or partner is on the same page. Remember the big picture. This too shall pass. Finally, remember that this too shall pass. And more importantly, make sure your middle schooler realizes this, too.
Are you the parent of a middle schooler? I’d love to hear your sanity-saving tips!