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Back to (Middle) School

by Ronald A. Rowe | August 17th, 2012 | Tweens

Back to School time is almost upon us already. For parents of tweens, that means that means a jumbled mix of emotions as we send our children out into the unknown world of Middle School. Middle School is the toughest test yet of your child’s ability to stay focused and grounded amidst a torrent of peer pressure, cliques, surging hormones, and heretofore unseen distractions.

A new school year brings its share of homework for parents as well as the students. We don’t need to be immersed in the tween pop culture, but we do need a passing familiarity with the trends and fads affecting our youth. We need to know the difference between 50 Shades of Grey and Divergent. We need to differentiate between LMFAO and Owl City.

Middle School generally signals the start of the “all my friends are doing it” years. It’s not a bad idea to set some firm ground rules now on some of the most common areas of negotiation. For example, you might set as policy that PG movies have your blanket approval while PG-13 movies will be evaluated on a case by case basis and R-rated movies are not open for discussion. Other areas for which pre-established criteria would be advisable include: sleepovers, dating, grades, extra-curricular activities, phone rules, etc.

Bear in mind that other parents will have their own sets of rules – or a complete lack thereof. There is some room for disagreement as to what is acceptable and what is not. I have a close friend who feels it is completely inappropriate for his tween daughter to call a boy on the phone. But boys are allowed to call her. I don’t necessarily agree with the importance of making a distinction as to which party initiates the call. But I do respect that fact that it is his daughter and therefore his set of rules.

The Middle School years bring both challenges and rewards. If we have properly prepared our tweens for the bigger world, the added freedom and responsibility can be a real blessing for the whole family. I know I’ve enjoyed my son reaching the age at which he can mow the lawn. I know that he is also glad to have reached that milestone at which he can earn extra allowance money mowing said lawn. The Middle School years do not have to be torturous. We just need to get out in front of the wave and make sure that we are setting the direction for our tweens.

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