Ever been talking with a spouse or friend and realize, “Hooray! We’ve finally mastered the art of raising an elementary school child!” only to wake up the next morning and discover that the rules have changed?

Yeah. Me too. That’s why I’ve been talking about characteristics of middle schoolers and strategies for helping them (and us) survive these transitional years. We’re all in the same boat—parents and kids alike— trying to navigate this process of relearning. Whether it’s figuring out what it means to parent in this new chapter of our lives or sorting out what it means to be a young adult, middle school is a family process that begs for grace.

As parents, we want to hold on to the last moments of childhood. Yet deep down we know it’s is a losing battle—our kids are growing up. And we’re left to figure out how to balance the tension between the inevitable and how to deal with our emotions in the transition. We’re not done parenting yet, but how do we figure out things like where’s the new line between setting boundaries and letting our kids learn independence?

 For kids, they must feel like their world has just blown up. They’re growing. It’s awkward. They’re discovering that they’re attracted to people and they’re not quite sure what to do about that. Their bodies are in constant flux. They get angry at a moment’s notice. Emotionally hurt in a roll of the eye. Thankfully, middle school is a time where most of the landings are soft. Now is the time to make mistakes – not high school when the stakes are higher and the consequences more severe.

We can have the best intentions and work hard to implement some great parenting strategies to succeed at raising a tween. Yet truth be told, we will mess up. We will make mistakes, say or do something or ten that our kids will probably be telling a counselor about someday. But mistakes are part of learning. This middle school thing is hard. No one does it perfectly, but that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We can take each moment in stride and gain wisdom along the way. Here are some resources that may help along the way:

Playing for Keeps/Losing Your MarblesReggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy with Liz Hanson

You only have so many years before your kids leave the house. As you lose your marbles, how are you making the most of the time you have with your kids. Reggie and Kristen present five principles—Love, Stories, Fun, Words, Tribes—that over time that will impact your kids in a huge way.

Parenting Beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community – Reggie Joiner and Carey Nieuwhof

Parenting is tough work. There are so many expectations for what it means to be a good parent, and parents are left hardly knowing where to start. Reggie and Carey give 5 principles that easily translate to parents at any stage of life.

The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas – Kara Powell

This book arises from the innovative, research-based, and extensively field-tested project known as “Sticky Faith,” designed to equip parents with insights and ideas for nurturing long-term faith in children and young people.

The A Parent’s Guide to Understanding… Series from Youth Specialties cover various topics to help parents figure out what’s happening to their kids and how to help.

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Teenage Girls  Mark Oestreicher and Brooklyn Lindsey

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Teenage Guys – Mark Oestreicher

A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Teenage Brains – Mark Oestreicher

Getting to Calm: Cool-Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens Laura S. Kastner and Jennifer Wyatt

Getting to Calm. The title says it all. Learn strategies to remain calm and cool-headed when facing the ups and downs of middle schoolers and the hot-button issues they face.

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School John Medina

Medina helps unpack the human brain and how it works. He presents solid research in a way that anyone can understand. He also offers solutions for how to handle the pressures of work, life, and school. Whether you have middle schoolers or just want to figure yourself out, this is a great book to have on hand.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series – Jeff Kinney

If you want to get inside the head of a middle schooler, look no further. This series is a riot. You’ll be laughing out loud while getting valuable insight into the middle school mind.

  This is only scratching the surface. What other middle school parenting resources would you add to this list?

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