I was recently in the car, driving home from work, when I decided to turn on the radio. As I sat at a red light, flipping from station to station, I overheard a conversation that piqued my interest. A man began to speak and posed this question, “How can parents continue to engage their middle school child?” I ended up listening to this entire segment – it was one of those conversations that I just didn’t want to miss and one of those times when I didn’t want to get out of the car for fear of missing out on an answer that could very well “change my life”.
For those of you that happen to be new to ReNewed Chick, and don’t know much about me, let me give you a little background before I continue. I am a 29-year old mother of 5. Yes, 5, f-i-v-e. You may have already read this somewhere else – or heard it through the grapevine – at any rate, it’s the truth.
I work full-time outside of my home, serve in the community (and teach my children to do the same), blog, recently continued working on my first book and am now looking into starting an e-magazine…all while working on my second degree. My children range in age from 5-months to 10-years old and there is a set of multiples, twins to be exact, in-between. I am divorced (yep, you got it…I’m a single mom), as if that wasn’t enough, right? Tell me about it!
Anyway, my oldest daughter is in 5th grade this year so this is her last year in what we know as elementary school (or what she now likes to refer to as the “school for babies”). So, needless to say, I have become very interested in topics concerning ‘tweens, pre-teens, and middle-school children because, in about 1 year, my oldest daughter will be catapulted into that stage of life.
So, anywho, I continued to listen to this conversation and the woman that responded gave some of the most practical advice that I have ever heard. Her response to this question was, “Parents need to know that it’s okay to still be learning and to show our children that we are navigating this stage of life right along with them.” I don’t know if I loved or if I hated this advice because it just left me feeling like I needed more.
You ever have that feeling? Like, something is missing but you just don’t know what? Well, that is the feeling that I had after hearing her response. I kind of wanted to call in and say, could you elaborate on that some, please??? Instead, I just let the question play through my mind for the remainder of that car ride until I got home, and went inside, where I was greeted by my darling eldest child.
It just so happens that my 10-year old is the strangest child I know. I mean, this child actually cried when school ended last year because she didn’t want to leave school or her teacher – although, I must say, she had a really great teacher for 4th grade…I even got teary eyed when the school year was coming to a close – but I digress.
She loves school and she loves to learn and I am somehow worried that in middle school this will all change. Maybe it’s because of the horror stories that I think, I can safely say, we’ve all heard about kids entering middle school and high school and somehow becoming this totally different person than we gave birth to. Or maybe it’s because of my remembrance of how I was when I was her age.
What I have started to notice is how similar my daughter and I are yet, also, how different we are when I was her age and I think, much like any parent who’ll be honest with themselves, this scares me. I think, as parents, we just have to learn to trust that we are all doing the best that we can with what we have. Circumstances, and other obstacles, try to stand in the way but we cannot let that negativity hinder us from fulfilling our responsibility to our children.
We may not always get it right – and let’s be honest NO ONE ever will – but we can try. And isn’t that the best lesson that we can teach our children anyway? That when things get hard – or we don’t have all of the right answers – you still NEVER give up, no matter what.