The day finally came and I wasn’t ready. My oldest “graduated” from 5th Grade and will be moved on to Middle School. Middle school! Those awkward, confusing, trying-to-find-out-who-I-am years of Middle School. I remember those years too vividly and it was not all good. So as my son started this new chapter in his life and I learned to navigate my new role as a middle-school mom, here are 15 Things I Wanted My Son To Know Before Starting Middle School.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Everyone who ever accomplished something great, most likely failed several times along the way. Failure can be hard and painful, but don’t stay in that bad place too long. Take time to be sad, learn from your mistakes, but then dust yourself off and try again. The next great thing is most likely already on the horizon.
2. Be Yourself
Middle school is a time when people will try to make you be someone that you’re not. You might feel like you have to change to “fit in” or be popular. Always be yourself. Your true friends will like you for who you are and you will be more confident when you are living an authentic life than if you are trying to change to impress people who will not matter in the long run anyways.
3. Don’t Over-Share Your Life
You live in a world where social media is life. We didn’t have that when I was your age. Don’t feel like you have to share every aspect of your life online. Some things should stay private.
4. You Don’t Have to “Friend” Everyone on Social Media
Just because someone sends you a friend request, doesn’t mean you have to or should accept it. If you don’t know that person or want that person to know about your life, don’t accept it. And feel free to unfriend/block someone at anytime and for any reason.
5. It’s Okay to Be Different
You don’t have to be the same as everyone else in order to be important. It’s okay to be different. In fact it’s good to be different. Stand up for what you believe, even if you have to stand alone. Don’t give into the pressure to do things that you are not okay with.
6. Friends Will Come and Go and That’s Okay
The friends that you had in elementary school, might not be the same friends you have in Middle School and that’s okay. People change. I promise you will find lasting friendships in the most unexpected ways and with the most unexpected people.
7. Grades are Important but Not Everything
Never base your worth on your report card. Just as good grades don’t make someone a better person, bad grades don’t make them a bad person. Always try your best and work hard and that’s what matters most.
8.You Don’t Have to Be Popular
I promise you that popularity in Middle School will mean absolutely nothing down the road in a few years. And from my experience, ‘popular’ people can be some of the cruelest, meanest kids out there. If you are popular, be kind. If you are not popular, be kind and find friends who treat each other with respect. You don’t have to hang out with jerks.
9. Talk to Us
I know that mom and dad might be the last people you want to talk to when you are going through difficult things at school, but we are always here for you. And if you don’t want to talk to us, please talk to a family member that you trust. We will always have your back. And yes, this includes talking to us about girls. I know you might not want to but you are entering some of the most confusing years of your life. Even though it’s hard to believe, we have been there before.
10. Perfect Doesn’t Exist
You’re going to mess up. There will be times when you fail and times when you wish you could take back something that was said or done. Don’t beat yourself up. Perfect people don’t exist. We all mess up. We all struggle. We all fail. When you make a mistake, admit it and do what you can to make it right and then learn from it and move on. There are lessons to be learned from every experience we have in life.
11. Be Patient with Mom and Dad
You are our first kid in Middle School and your dad and I don’t really know what to expect. We’re learning right along with you. To be honest, we will most likely embarrass you on a regular basis. But, our parents embarrassed us and we turned out okay, right?
12. You Can Use Us As an Excuse Anytime
If you are ever faced with a decision or situation that makes you uncomfortable and you don’t know how to react, use me or your dad as an excuse to get out of it. “My mom won’t let me go.”, “My dad texted and I have to be home in 5 minutes.” etc, etc. Those aren’t the best suggestions but I’m sure you get the point. You can make us sound as awful and un-cool as you need to. 🙂
13. Stay Away From Drugs/Smoking/Addictions
I know you’ve had the D.A.R.E program and you know all you think you will ever need to know about drugs, but the fact is, you’ve never been faced with the decision of whether or not to take them. You’ve never been in a situation where you had to say no. It might not be as easy as it sounds. Make the decision now to stay away from addictive substances, not only because they are bad for your body, but because they won’t fix whatever problem you are hoping they will fix. They will numb you for awhile but the problems will still be there. Let’s talk through things and find ways to work things out without drugs. Drugs ruin lives. period.
14. Be Confident and Realize Just How Amazing You Are
You are an amazing kid and I hope you can see that. Be confident in who you are. Speak up. Look people in the eye. Know that your opinions matter. Be respectful of others but also of yourself. Don’t put yourself down. The world will do enough of that for you. Surround yourself with the types of people who will build you up. There is no room in life for those who only want to bring you down.
15. Middle School is Hard
You and everyone around you will be trying to figure out who you are. You’re not a little kid anymore, but far from an adult. You have more independence in Middle School and sometimes that makes life tricky. You’ll be faced with situations that are new and you might not know what to do. Remember #9 and talk to us. You don’t have to go through things alone. And when things are hard, remember they will get better.
Starting Middle school will be a time of adjustment but also a time where you have a lot of fun. I’ll probably cry on your first day, so prepare yourself for that, but I’m so proud of you and excited to be a part of this journey with you. So have fun, make friends, and do your best. You’ve got this!