Navigating the Middle School Years

The middle school years can be tough. And not just for the kids. They can be challenging for parents as well.

As your child enters adolescence, your parenting approach will likely have to shift gears. There’s a lot going on, after all. Not only is a whirlwind of puberty at your child’s doorstep, but his or her priorities are changing. Family often becomes an afterthought, while friends and independence become most important.

What’s a parent to do? When our own boys were that age, Jean and I found success with a couple of key ideas.

First, we tried not to minimize their day-to-day events, even when they appeared trivial to us. To a teenager, those seemingly insignificant moments often feel like pivotal experiences upon which all of life hinges.

Second, when our boys faced a challenge, we avoided swooping in and fixing things. We found that if we relaxed our grip a little, it was easier not to force solutions on them too quickly. Our goal was to listen closely to their heart, not just their words – to help them discover an answer instead of providing them one.

Of course, the growth pains my wife and I faced as parents are not unique to us. Nor will they be to you. I think that will become abundantly clear when you hear our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Navigating the Middle School Years.”

Our guests, authors Cynthia Tobias and Sue Acuña, say, “Middle schoolers want more than anything else to be listened to, to be understood, and to be taken seriously.”

Adolescence is a critical period, and middle schoolers need a good relationship with their parents to endure the difficult times. My conversation with Cynthia and Sue will offer great tips to help you and your middle schooler thrive. Listen on your local radio station, online, on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, via Google Podcasts, or on our free phone app.

Before I close, I’d like to extend an invitation for you to become a special partner with us through our monthly “Friends of Focus on the Family” program. When you do, I’ll send you a copy of Cynthia Tobias’ and Sue Acuña’s book Middle School: The Inside Story: What Kids Tell Us, but Don’t Tell You as a way of saying thank you for touching others with the love of Christ. You’ll also receive member-exclusive benefits. To make your pledge, or for more information, click here or call 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).

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