Remember how difficult it was when you were in middle school to tell your parents what was on your heart?
“How was school?” your parents would ask, and no matter what happened you would inevitably sum up your day into one emotionally charged word … “Fine.”
Sometimes middle schoolers don’t know how to verbalize their emotions, and other times they just really don’t want to tell you what’s going on. They are transitioning from being a little kid to being a teenager, and sometimes their thoughts even scare themselves.
What types of things are middle schoolers actually thinking about? Here are three scary thoughts no middle school student wants to tell you:
“I’m insecure all the time about how I look.”
The boy Samuel grew physically. He pleased the Lord and the people.
1 Sam 2:26 NCV
In middle school, everyone’s body is changing and no one wants to talk about it. From their voice to their height to their hormones, there is so much happening developmentally that kids often feel insecure. They tend to isolate, want privacy, and hide their feelings more. They may also get more competitive, dramatic or mean as they try to deal with their own insecurities. There may be questions they want to ask or conversations at school that make them curious but they can be too afraid to break the barrier of awkwardness and bring this up with their parents.
As a parent, be aware of this and be available to talk to your kid when they’re ready. Don’t pressure them to talk, but do special relaxed things together like taking your daughter out for breakfast or playing their favorite sport after dinner so that when they want to talk they know you will be there.
“I like someone.”
The moment Jacob spotted Rachel, daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, saw her arriving with his uncle Laban’s sheep, he went and single-handedly rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the sheep of his uncle Laban.
Gen 29:10 Msg
Striving to impress that special someone changes us. Even if we talk as parents about how natural it is to like someone, most children at this age will still have a hard time admitting it (especially to mom and dad). They already feel insecure about themselves, and if they have grown up religious they may think it’s bad or off-limits to be interested in the opposite sex.
One thing parents can do to help is adjust their own attitude about their kids liking someone. When my kids entered middle school, I realized that I also was not ready for this change so it made the conversations with my kids even harder. Expect it, don’t panic about it, and teach your kids to have healthy friendships and healthy boundaries with the opposite sex.
People who do what is wrong hate the light and don’t come to the light. They don’t want their actions to be exposed.
John 2:20 GW
When our kids cheat in school they feel an immense amount of guilt. They want the benefits of taking a shortcut but fear the consequences of being honest about their choices. In middle school, there is more emphasis on grades than there was in elementary school and the percentage of kids who cheat can be staggering.
So how do we encourage our students to be open and honest with us? Col 3:12 (NCV) says,
“God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So you should always clothe yourselves with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
As parents we need strive to grow in these qualities of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience so that our children are not afraid to be honest with us about their mistakes. We can still discipline and train our children without making them live in fear of our disappointment, anger and rejection.
Have a discussion as a family about which quality in this scripture you are each strongest in, and which one you need to work on. Becoming more humble, gentle and patient will naturally encourage your kids to be more honest with you.