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There is a fine line between being aware of what is going on in your child’s life and being involved in it. I know it’s not easy to watch, sometimes. And sometimes you just want to take control. But the truth is offering your child advice is the best you can do.
If a problem your teen has with another teen (or adult) crosses the fine line of drama and into inappropriate or worse, it’s time to get involved. But that doesn’t mean saying things back. It means contacting authorities to get help. This might be school officials or even police.
It is fine to protect your child, but it is not OK to go on the attack. (If the drama is over technology, you should also consider blocking other people, deleting apps, closing accounts and rethinking privacy settings. It is still OK to be in control.)
1. Not being involved in your child’s life
The BIGGEST MISTAKE parents make when their child enters middle school is stepping back and being less involved. It is true that your child might not want you around. There aren’t homeroom parents. There are fewer opportunities to volunteer. But stepping back and not knowing what is going on in your child’s life is the absolute wrong move to make.
Find a way to stay involved. Even if that is talking to your child five minutes a day about his/her day, it is important to stay connected. Don’t listen when your child tells you not to volunteer at school. Do it anyway. Ignore your child when he/she says that you don’t need to know his/her friends or parents of his/her friends. Meet them anyway.
Your teen might act like he/she doesn’t want you or need you around, but they do, more than ever before. Your middle school student is figuring out who they are and your guidance in this area is paramount. Your child’s brain and body are growing at rates not seen since he/she was a baby. As much as they say they want freedom, they really want and need boundaries. They need you.
There are so many mistakes we make as parents. It just happens. However, if you focus on staying involved in your child’s life, without hovering over them, it will help minimize the mistakes.
You are still the most important person in your child’s life. Don’t forget that. And when you feel overwhelmed and like you are a failure, remember that you aren’t. You are a human who is doing his/her best to raise a child. And look for others around you to remind you of this, because we are in this together.
Michelle Sutherlin is a NewsOK contributor and a middle school counselor in Norman, OK, who works with students ages 11-15 daily. She is also a mom to two boys, Ryan (12) and Will (9). She and her husband have been married for 16 years. For more articles about parents and middle school, check out her blog.
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