By: Jessica DiRamio
After each one of my children were born, life got a little more complicated for my husband and me. We were almost at our breaking point soon after #3 came along when we realized we were outnumbered. Quickly getting into a groove with 3 kids, we chugged along and figured “oh yeah, we got this”…
Sure, we figured it out – how to be parents of 3 kids, how to comfort each one, how to divide and conquer and more. It was all smooth sailing in this household. That is, until our oldest daughter turned 12 and went to Middle School.
Any feelings of success came to screeching halt within five days of the start of Middle School last September. Immediately came the requests from her to:
- Walk home from school
- Hang out at local pizza places and go other places by herself and/or with a group.
- Get Facebook, Skype and Twitter accounts.
- Be allowed to have a boyfriend.
- Take her cell phone and iPod to school.
Are you stressed yet? Because just writing that list above gives me heart palpitations! Being the parent of a pre-teen brings new meaning to stress. Don’t get me wrong, I love her with all of my heart – she’s my #1 girl, but boy oh boy is life with a 12 year old a chore! I feel that I had a little bit of an inside scoop on this phase thanks to my mother and father. You see, they had my little sister 13 years after me, so I was old enough to see her go through some of this firsthand. I can also thank my BFF whose only child is 2.5 years older than mine. I get a preview of each coming phase through her and feel somewhat prepared at every stage.
However, and this is a big however, there isn’t a book out there or a friend experiencing it firsthand that can accurately prepare a parent for the pre-teen stage. You must experience it for yourself.
Pre-teens ask for so many things on a daily basis, one can easily fall into the habit of saying no to all of it. I’ve tried to approach all of this with a “yes, attitude”. I say yes to a lot, but in baby steps, and with serious consequences if bad things happen. I could not possibly say yes to walking home from school in September, October and every single month after that. I wasn’t ready…she wasn’t ready. But now that the nice weather is upon us, when the day comes that she’ll ask again, I’ll say yes. You see, she’s been taking part in a secret experiment since September. She has walked to a friend’s house one street over, she walked into the center of town, she hung out at Burger King with friends on a half day; all with no issues. She’s ready for the granddaddy of them all: walking home from school. Crossing my fingers it all goes according to plan.
This “yes, attitude” seems to be working for our family. I have a very happy, healthy 12 year old who actually wants to hang out with us and is very rarely grumpy towards her family. I consider this a win, for now!
What do you think about all this? For those of you with Middleschoolers, how do you handle the barrage of requests to do more, get more, be more, on a daily basis?