The middle school years are a time of change and awkwardness that most of us would never willingly return to, but they are also the time when you really start to see the adult your child is going to be emerging. The tween years don’t have to merely be endured, I promise you can enjoy them mom!
Tweens go through more than most of us can imagine these days and most of the time they just need to be heard. Listen to your child and have empathy for whatever they are talking about. Listening well means practicing your “poker face” when they tell you things that shock you and practicing an even-tempered response. Just because you have empathy doesn’t mean you are agreeing with them, but it lets them know it’s safe to be honest with you.
Give Them Space
Your child is no longer in elementary school, and they are growing up, so give them a little space to stretch their wings. Allow them to take ownership of their projects, homework, and sports responsibilities. Make it their job to pack their backpack and sports bag, to be on time to practice, and to let you know when sports sign ups are and when money is due at school, etc. This is a good time to stop reminding them to do their homework all the time. Better that they get a bad grade in middle school and learn their lesson about studying rather than in high school or college! When they get home from school and want to go straight to their room, allow them to do that (within reason of course and I recommend keeping all technology/screens out of your child’s bedroom at all times). Teach them that with responsibility comes privileges and celebrate them when they steward their newly-given responsibilities well.
Find Common Ground
Find things that you both enjoy and can do together to stay in touch. This could be cooking dinner together, going for a hike, getting tickets to see your favorite sports team play or even just binge-watching a favorite show together. Creating these shared memories will bond your hearts together so you can both endure the times when you’re not each other’s biggest fan.
Be FOR Them
Greg and I would always remind the kids, “I’m FOR you, not AGAINST you.” Even when our kids were slamming doors or angry with us, we would remind them of this. To this day, they will tell you that even in their frustration with us they understood that we did what we did out of love for them