As both of my boys are in middle school this year, I’ve been thinking about some things I want them to understand about the animal that it is. So, here are some thoughts on the truths about their experience I want them to know:
I want you to know
- that middle school is so much fun. There are new and exciting activities, lots of cool teachers, and many chances to make lasting connections with others who share your interests and values.
- that middle school is also just like trying to shop at Walmart for a big screen TV on Black Friday – everyone is jockeying for position, trying to make to the top, and fighting to emerge with the big prize and come out on top. You have a choice to join in that or opt out. You CAN choose the path that works for you.
- that middle school is filled with opportunities to be mean and nasty, and filled equally with opportunities to be kind, empathic, and thoughtful. The choice is yours.
- that some days you will feel like middle school is the best place ever and some days it will feel like the worst place ever – both are normal and okay. Your experiences in middle school will not define you. They do not determine whether or not you will be successful or not in the future. While it all feels super important right now – and it is – it will not hold that same value down the road.
- that in middle school you will have so many more choices and decisions to make, and much more responsibility. Carefully choose, decide, and think things through. Take your responsibilities seriously and follow through on them with honor.
- that middle school is a place where you will make many mistakes – and that’s great and healthy and normal. One of the best ways we learn is by making mistakes. You will mess up, you will excel in some areas and bomb in others. Know that I love you and value you through every mistake, bad grade(s), fight, battle, etc.
- that middle school is a place where you will learn how so much about yourself. How you handle making mistakes and messing up is what’s important. Try your best to own your mistakes, learn from them, and pick yourself back up again. You will not always do this well, but it’s okay. It takes years of practice – I’m still working on it.
- that middle school is a place where you will have your heart broken – you will learn that not everyone is meant to be connected to you, and not everyone will like you – and that’s okay.
- that middle school is a place where you will start to understand the kind of people you love to be around. Those people will make you laugh, and make you feel good about yourself. If they are right for you, you will feel happy after being with them. They will value you, understand you, and love you for who you are. You will not feel rejected, sad, or less than after being with the right people. These friends absolutely do exist, but sometimes they are hard to find.
- that in middle school you are wonderful, and lovable, and smart, and creative, and beautiful – just the way you are at this very moment.
Stay tuned for some thoughts on what parents can do for their middle school kids!