Monday, March 5, 2018

Parenting Middle-Schoolers

As usual, I have about five minutes to blog so I'm going to make this real quick.

I have mentioned a few times over the last year how parenting my oldest as he's turned into a middle-schooler/pre-teen has been a challenge.  Because of the move and all of the added challenges of transitioning to a new life and also being pregnant and adding to our family, it made jumping into a new phase of parenting that much more tricky!

I was trying my best to come up with solutions and strategies, but I was quickly realizing that I didn't have all the answers.

But I'm happy to say that the Lord kept guiding me or putting me in conversations with people who had more answers than I did so that I could take some of their words of wisdom to heart and it has helped.

I wanted to just quickly mention a few books that have helped me develop my strategies as a parent of three tweens!

The first is a book called Unsteady by JeaNette G. Smith.  It is written from an LDS perspective and explains how and why we should teach our kids to save serious or exclusive dating for a time when they are ready to choose a spouse...preferably post-high school and post-mission.

I found her explanation of the six stages of relationship to be enlightening. I certainly didn't have an understanding of this when I was a youth, but now my children will.  Already in fifth and sixth grade my oldest two are having to ask and answer these questions.  They have people pressuring them to "like" someone.  They've been asked out on dates, etc.

As proactive as we have been as parents in explaining sex to our children, there is still suddently a whole new world opening up to them that we need to guide them through...a world of "dating", a world of technology, a world of making friends and on and on.

Although I haven't finished reading this book, it felt like the author really helped me catch-up in being able to reason with my children about the dating standards and helping them come to a logical understanding of why the standards on dating are a wise route to pursue.  And this was an important detail for us to address now as they were suddenly asking a lot of questions which we hadn't yet considered.

The second book, of course, is called "Growing Up Too Fast: The Secret World of America's Middle Schoolers" by Sylvia Rimm.  Now Dr. Rimm is a neighbor of my mother's, believe it or not, and she is also a renowned expert on parenting who specializes and has written many books on parenting gifted children and girls...two areas I need help with.

After mentioning her to me multiple times, my mom finally just gave me Dr. Rimm's book and told me to read it.  But being a busy Mom, of course I wasn't getting far into it.  Finally, one night in the middle of the night, I woke up and thought, "I need to read that book!"  So at 4am I found myself reading her book straight through and highlighting many pages and making notes in the margins.

Now you know any prompting that gets you up at 4am to read a book is legit.

I am so glad that I did this, as her book really helped me to change the way I was thinking about my preteens and helped me to better understand their generation and the things they have to deal with.

Her book really deserves it's own post, but I will just blurt out a few concepts she teaches that helped me a lot:

1.  Consider that because of their exposure to TV/Media/Technology, this generation is dealing with things that are 2 years or more ealier than you did at their age.  So think of yourself two years older than them and then approach their problem with that in mind.

2.  Try to be their "coach" not their "judge."  A Coach assumes the best about them and encourages.  A Judge condemns.

3.  Quality Family Relationships can overcome and prevent many problems.

4.  Don't be afraid to encourage children to be like you.  You are their role models.

5.  The idea of "popularity" is a distortion of the concept of true friendship.

6.  Her explanation of "Erikson's Stages of Psychological Development" was enlightening for me as I'd never learned about it.  It helped me to understand the challenges that my children will and must go through at each stage of development...and therefore I can see better how to help them and facilitate their growth.  It also helped me to see how the standards of dating will help them to develop in a healthy way to adulthood.

And lastly, you know we have been using For the Strength of Youth to teach our children during Family Home Evening the last few weeks.  We are going to continue with this.

Sylvia Rimm teaches in her book that children have more anxiety "thinking" about work they have to do than actually "doing" the work.

Now that I have read up a bit more about how I can best parent my preteens I have a lot less anxiety about it and I am actually looking forward to helping them grow into the young adults I know that they are destined to become.

In addition to talking about language and making friends, we've started having regular weekend evenings where we invite friends over to "practice socializing."  It's been interesting to see how the children do in these little gatherings. 

This feels right to me, to help lead and guide them as they slowly dip their toes into the world of socializing and eventually dating and I am grateful I have been set on a good path too as I parent them through this exciting new phase of life!

1 comment:

  1. We just did this FHE with our family last night! We watched this LDS YOUTH video with it: and ended up having a great discussion! Thanks for the wonderful idea!