Last week we introduced tips on how to parent the middle school student and the first four important topics we discussed were:
1. ENCOURAGE INDEPENDENCE; 2. LEAD THEM TO LEAD; 3. TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREATED; and 4. TEACHERS ARE ON YOUR TEAM
Here are some further helpful hints that have been learned along the way:
5. OFFER BACK-UP
Have you ever felt like your child was struggling to keep his head above the water as you stood on 'the shore'? Or do you fear that your child might be drowning in his own responsibilities? Offering some help is ok, but be wise in how much. The last thing you want to do in these situations is take over and relieve your kids of a useful learning experience.
This is a time to train, not take over. For example, if your student seems organizationally challenged, one helpful hint is to set aside time each week to go over homework assignments for the upcoming week.
- Spend some time with your child looking over a calendar while having him note important due dates and events. Your child should create his own to-do list he can use to work toward completing his goals.
- Are there any assignments late or missing? Add these to the list with a reminder to follow-up with the teacher. If your child doesn't know how to talk to his teacher, take time to role play and train him, reminding him that the teacher is on his side!
- If your student is still struggling, walk through the steps again and encourage him; it might take a couple of tries. You can always do a status check together to see how he are progressing.
6. REMAIN ON THE SAME PAGE
Parents should talk and agree about their strategies to ensure they are both on the same page. Remember, you both want what's best for your child and can even better accomplish this as a team. Try to take turns checking in with your child's progress. Sometimes where one parent may be great in the area of motivation, the other may exemplify patience. Both parents are needed and important and can lean on each other when times are stressful.
7. STAY IN THE MIDDLE
When we become overly worried about our children failing we must consider whether we are making their success more about ourselves then about them. As parents, we have the potential of becoming controlling and overbearing in our children's lives. It's important we remain in the middle: not neglectful, yet not completely enmeshed.
Our children have been fearfully and wonderfully made by God, and He's given them everything they need - including you! - to succeed independently. This truth must guide us as parents to raise our children, not to reflect who we are, but to shine as God made them.
Conversely, as a parent, God has chosen you to love and take great care in the raising of your children. Never neglect or forget the great privilage of that role. Stay in the middle!
Parenting in the middle school in San Diego years requires a fundamental shift. It is not easy. It is a process. The more we can lead our children towards responsibility while gifting them with independence, the transition into high school (and adulthood) will come that much easier. Also, remember you are not alone. Talk to other trusted parents for input and encouragement.
And lastly, give your child, your child’s teachers, and yourself, a healthy measure of grace.