Making Space for the Middles
Ahhh, middle school. The smell of onions and Axe body spray in the air. Crumpled homework papers at the bottom of school bags, empty folders, and half filled out planners. It is a special time in a young person’s life. It is also a special time for parents.
Many of us can recall some of the struggles we had in middle school, and some of those had lasting impacts on who we are today. Middle school was hard! Acne, hormones, changing classes, changing bodies, changing relationships. It is a lot on a kid. Because these tweens are just that- still kids but rapidly growing up.
With the increase in technology and social media, with the increase in expectations at school, with the increase in responsibilities at home, our tweens can get lost in these dark times of the “Middle Ages.” Our tweens are stuck between being little kids and being teenagers, and nobody wants to be stuck in the purgatory of puberty. It can be a gloomy, even scary time and place for our kids, and often the fears and anxiety that build up are brought home and unleashed on us.
As parents we know how fleeting the middle school years can be, but we also know that these tween days can drag on as we argue over clothing options, social media access, studying for tests, and even taking adequate showers.
So what can we do to ease this transitional time in our kids’ lives, and ultimately ease it for ourselves? We can make space for the middles. We can listen instead of lecture. We can guide instead of giving orders. We can make space for big emotions, emerging opinions, and choose our battles wisely.
I taught middle school for over 8 years, and now as a parent I have one middle schooler and one heading that way very soon. And I know, it is far easier said than done when it comes to our own kids. It is hard to carve out that time to be still and listen during one of the busiest times in our lives.
But there is so much beauty in the middle if we are willing to look for it. Our tweens are in their chrysalis deconstructing who they were as little kids and learning to refashion themselves into someone fantastic! There is beauty in the change if we are willing to be patient with our tweens and make space for them as they emerge and flex their wings.
About The Author
My name is Leslie Joyce. I grew up in River Ridge and now live in Mandeville with my husband, two kids, and “mini” farm of dogs, cats, ducks, bunnies, and quail. As a family, we enjoy traveling, especially to National Parks and to visit family. Our family motto is to “Make smart choices, Joyces,” but a few questionable ones always enter the mix. I taught elementary and middle school for 15 years in New Orleans and on the Northshore. I now run a mentoring and tutoring business specifically to help preteens thrive.