Entering middle school is like stepping onto another planet – for parent and child alike.
Dr. Leman reminds us of the difficult shift that occurs from childhood to adolescence.
“They’re pulled. They’re still little girls, they’re still little boys; they still like their toys, they still like their little dolls and yet they’re growing up. What are they bombarded with? Growing up way, way, way too quick. It’s a pull both ways.”
He explains the physical and emotional changes that are occurring around this time, which may explain some of their need to distance themselves from their parents.
“It’s a time where in many ways they wished they didn’t have a parent around because every seems to bother them. They wake up in the morning and they’ve got a big zit on her face too and that’s a new experience. By this time, they certainly have been aware of the opposite sex and go through those little ‘puppy love’ relationships and it just gets really weird.”
Dr. Leman encourages parents to take a step back and don’t pry for answers.
“If you want to bury your kid a little deeper in that room that they hide out in many times, just keep drilling them with questions parents and they won’t come out.”
Instead, we are encouraged to listen, re-frame our questions and pray for God’s help in navigating the world of middle school.
“The smart parent learns to keep their mouth shut and doesn’t ask questions. In fact, for those of you who are saying right now, ‘That is impossible, I have to ask my kid questions,’ then frame things like this: ‘Honey, can I ask your opinion about something?’”
“When you ask someone to your opinion, what do you literally say? You’re saying, ‘I value what you think and I’m interested in what your ideas are.’ So you won’t get much push back on ‘Can I ask your opinion?’…it’s a great opener.”