As I sat there watching my 11 yr old daughter play the Wii and laugh and giggle with her friends, I was reminded of how short childhood is for kids today. In just over 2 weeks, my daughter starts 6th grade and enters a whole new chapter in her life. And so will I. It will be my first experience being the mother of a middle school girl. To say that I'm not nervous or concerned would be a lie.
My oldest two boys made it through the middle school years without too many issues. However, I think those years are the most difficult and most challenging for kids and parents. And I think it's much more challenging for girls. Peer pressure is through the roof and so is the need to fit in. Many times girls who were friends all through grade school will no longer speak to one another. Why? Because one is now popular and the other is not. One is a cheerleader and the other is a math whiz. One has designer clothes or shoes and the other does not. Or because in order to be friends with one girl they can't be friends with another.
In the past few months as I've thought about my daughter starting middle school, I've begun praying more earnestly for her and her heart. She is very sensitive and gets very upset when she thinks someone doesn't like her. I'm praying that she will be confident in her identity as a daughter of the King. I'm also praying that God will give her that one special friend that will walk with her through the day to day dramas of the modern middle school. I'm also praying that she doesn't grow up too fast over the next year. I don't want her to lose the innocence of a child too soon.
I've known too many children who have entered 6th grade and within a few months the sweet innocence of childhood has been replaced with attitude and apathy towards most everything that they once enjoyed. I've also known some who have grown-up a bit during the middle school years, but they have still kept the giggles and laughter of childhood. I'm not an expert on child development but my observation has shown me that the difference is made by 2 things.....friends and parents.
When a tween spends a vast amount of time with friends who have bad attitudes or are disrespectful to teachers, it rubs off. When these friends have no respect for parental authority, it rubs off. When these friends make stupid choices, your tween may be right beside them. When these friends make great choices and are respectful, that rubs off too. The friends they spend 7 hours a day with will influence them greatly. But so can I as a parent.
I'm a firm believer in the enormous impact and influence that parents have with their children. Which is why during the school year, my daughter and I will have weekly girl time. And since we live in a house full of boys, it is greatly needed!! We may go shopping or to a movie. We may grab ice cream and just talk. The important thing we do is spend time together connecting and keeping communication lines open.
Right now the talk is mainly about this girl or that girl who said this or that. And at times, I tire of hearing the continuous drama of who is no longer friends with who. But I continue to listen and engage my daughter in conversation because I love her and also because one day soon, she may need to talk to me about something of greater significance. If I haven't cared to listen to the little things, then she is less likely to share the big things with me.
This year we're going to be adding one more thing to our weekly girl time. We're going to be doing a purity study together. I want her to not only protect her physical body but also her heart and her emotions and to understand why. It's a bit scary for me to process the reality of what takes place in middle schools between boys and girls. But I have to leave my denial behind and prepare my daughter for battle.
Lord, I ask you to please captivate my daughter's heart. Protect it from harm and help her understand the depth of your love for her. Help me as her mother to be available to her and help her grow strong in her love for You
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.