Hindsight: What I’ve Learned from Parenting Middle Schoolers
Jul. 27, 2020
Hindsight is 2020, right?
If I only knew speed racing down that Colorado alpine slide would cause such devasting road rash, and I would walk like a Tin Man for three weeks...I would have worn jeans!
“If I only knew.” What a phrase! As parents with two kiddos entering the teen phase, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve said, “If I only knew…I would have…” It feels like sweetness and attentiveness have left the building and what remains is the ugly mess of narcissism and argumentativeness. But then again, it’s not all bad. Independence has increased. The strength in character is beginning to form. These are GOOD things allowing our emerging teens to be surefooted with strong minds in their unknown futures.
So, although I sorely miss the previous season of what I fondly refer to as “controlled” elementary school parenting, here are two lessons for parents shifting to the more “chaotic” phase of middle school parenting.
If I only knew…reading together wouldn’t last forever, I would have prioritized it more.
The closeness naturally occurring while reading on someone’s bed sure is something special. More importantly, the love of narrative, adventure, and curiosity is subtly and tenderly formed with those 15 minutes before bedtime. In our home, we read and reread the Storybook Bible, which I will say served to create a beautiful habit, which is now a norm in our house – even with emerging teens! Since my kids were so used to reading the Bible every night, as we moved on into middle school, I continued this 'habit' driving to school by using the Bible app. Every day we listen to a chapter. Interestingly, they don’t fight it because it was an important faith foundation we established in the more 'controlled' stage of parenting that is serving us well.
If I only knew…saying “YES” to everyone else’s schedule would negatively impact the need for family relationships, I would have said “NO” more.
You get the ‘must-attend’ email from the school. The coach schedules mandatory practices. The church asks for volunteers at the greatest event of the year. Remember those days? Living in this COVID-craziness, we have realized what saying YES to all those events did to our families – it often eliminated the need for each other. Saying NO to a greater YES is a practice we should all develop in our new world. Does the school, coach, even the church determine how much time we give, or do we have the power to determine how much time we need to bond, laugh, eat, and play together? Being able to have regular meals together, family movie/game nights have shown us we love spending time together (at least most of the time), and that time together is worth fighting for!
The bottom line is that this next generation needs us to spend TIME together, to be near, to know and be known by the ones who love them compassionately and graciously. Let’s do our best to pass along the beauty of nearness to this next generation.
If you would like to learn more about the phases of child physical and spiritual development, I suggest Seasons 1 and 2 of the podcast “Raising Boys and Girls” with Sissy Goff and David Thomas.
Student Team Pastor, Colleyville Campus