Survival Tips for Parents of Middle-Schoolers/Early Teens

by Christine Haymond, M.A. (Special Education), M.O.M.

  1. Other parents are your most valuable resource and greatest support system. Be there for each other. Network like crazy.
  2. Every society has rites of passage between childhood and adulthood. Recognizing and acknowledging them doesn't mean you condone them, but may help you keep (a) perspective on what is normal, age appropriate behavior.
  3. Choose your issues wisely (keep #2 in mind here). Tailor them to your child. There may be certain non-negotiable issues in every family and/or with every child. There is, conversely, minor "small stuff" that you can choose to minimize.
  4. Keep lines of communication open, knowing that you can't make your kids talk until and unless they are ready. Your willingness to talk may be more welcome by kids other than your own.
  5. School is a child's society. If there is teamwork between home and school, the child is the winner. The most valuable partnership possible is the one between school and parents.
  6. Supporting your children doesn't always mean agreeing with them. Challenging perceptions is part of our adult role.
  7. The greatest challenge we all face as parents is to find a balance between "trivial-izing" and "catastrophizing" our kids' behavior at any age. Good luck! There is no easy answer to the age-old parental lament: "Should I worry? How much?"
  8. Timing is everything when dealing with "kid crises". Don't be afraid to wait awhile before discussing an issue and/or consequences. "Cooling down" time will help you make thoughtful, rational decisions.
  9. Trust your "gut instinct".
  10. Be honest with yourself in acknowledging the need to turn to an objective professional. Counseling works!
  11. Do yourself a big favor and never utter the words, "Not my child."

Christine, a wife and mother of three twenty-something children, teaches middle school children with behavioral problems. She serves on the Board of Contributors to the Canton [Ohio] Repository. Christine states that at this point in her life she has earned a Ph.D. in parenting! She and her family attend St. George Romanian Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio.

© 1999 by Orthodox Family Life and the original author(s).
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