Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
This is not your typical devo. This is just thoughts from one mom to another. Here is what I’ve learned about middle school kids on year three of raising and living with a middle schooler. I am not an expert and continue to learn daily, but I feel like we have made good progress navigating these emotionally charged years while having a lot of fun along the way.
- They are super emotional, yes. However, they want you to hear them, know you’re listening, know that you care and know that you are in their corner. I remind my child constantly that I love him deeply. I’m his biggest cheerleader and strongest supporter. There is no one in this world other than Jesus who is going to love him any more than me and his dad.
- They need you to come into their space sometimes. Parents go to their room, sit on their bed and just talk to them. Hear what they have to say. Ask them what has been going on at school lately because there is always middle school drama.
- Who are your top streaks on Snapchat?
- Who’s your favorite teacher right now? Why?
- What’s the best TikTok you’ve seen lately?
- Who are your top three best friends? (This may change often in middle school.)
- They really struggle with hygiene. God bless ‘em. Parents tell them when they smell bad. If you don’t then someone else will and probably will embarrass them. Show them how to brush their teeth well, use mouthwash, stock up the deodorant, wash their face, do their own laundry. It’s a constant battle but eventually they will care and you’ll not need to tell them all the time.
- Anytime you have a few of them together at your house go to their space for a minute and talk to them. They’re really funny and tell you funny stories.
- You better get to know the kids they like hanging out with because their friends are their friends whether you approve or not. (This goes for “friends” of the opposite sex too.) That kid that you’re not too sure about? Invite them to your house and get to know them and let them get to know you. Your children know what your family values, but their peers are raised with different parents and a different set of values. That’s ok… we cannot isolate and bubble wrap our kids from this world. We help our children navigate it by getting to know their peers and talking with them from time to time in real honest conversations. I am able to have lots of spiritual conversations with my son and his friends because I have a good relationship with them and they know Jesus is a central part of our family life. We speak truth, love them deeply and give lots and lots of grace because, after all, they are middle schoolers.
- For those that work with students whether at school, church or community go to them. Go watch them play a game, play pick up ball with them at the park, go see them in the school musical, go have lunch with them in the lunchroom, play a video game with them. Parents: Follow them on Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc. IF your kid is on social media then you need to be a friend, a follower, a subscriber of all their social accounts. If my kids want a social media account this is non-negotiable in order to see what they are posting, who they follow, and what they are “liking” in their news feeds.
- Finally, remember that we cannot expect our kids to always cross the bridge to meet us if we are never willing to cross over the bridge to meet them. Once you build rapport then you build respect. Once you build respect then you build relationships with real conversations.
Dear Heavenly Father – Thank you for our children and grandchildren. Thank you for every stage of life that they go through and that you created them uniquely and designed them on purpose. Help us to know how to guide them, mentor them, listen to them, and love them during their adolescent years. Help us to turn to you when we aren’t sure how to best love them but help us to also see them like you see them - unique, precious, and created with purpose.
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