You have a middle schooler. Congrats, you’re now the dumbest and least cool person on the planet… temporarily. For preteens, everything seems extreme, from the hunger to the attitudes. Their bodies are changing so quickly, and their thoughts and feelings are in overdrive. You may feel like you’re on a rollercoaster that you don’t remember boarding, and you’re pretty sure it should require a waiver.
From sixth to eighth grade, kids start thinking more like engineers. Remember, in preschool, they were thinking like artists, and in elementary school, they were thinking like scientists. Now, they are constructing new thoughts for themselves and learning by trial and error. While your kid may act like they know everything (and you, of course, know nothing), they actually have some pretty serious questions.
Sixth graders have a bottomless pit for a stomach and an abundance of drama. You might call this the ‘yeah, who cares’ phase. In this phase, they are constantly searching out the answer to the question, “Who do I like?” They are exploring new feelings and discovering different aspects of relationships. Feelings are in the driver's seat. The goal during this phase is to help them gain stability.
Seventh and eighth graders show off how smart they are by repeating, “Yeah, I know.” Don’t be fooled by their confident facade. Deep down, they are asking a huge question. “Who am I?” They are becoming aware that they have control over who they are and who they can become. As much as you can, point them to healthy voices of influence that can help them discover their own uniqueness.
The main thing your middle schooler needs from you is affirmation. The question of “Who am I?” will be on repeat. Despite the rollercoaster of attitudes and emotions, your best parenting will come from staying steady, affirming their journey so they can own their faith and value a faith community.
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