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Starting Middle School

by Ronald A. Rowe | July 6th, 2012 | Tweens

Middle School is a time of transition, a time of growth, and a time of distraction. Tween boys are faced with a sudden influx of options – more sports, more extracurricular activities, more freedom to choose. Add in a sudden and inexplicable interest in girls and you’ve got a recipe for dropping grades.

As parents, we need to walk a fine line here. Children tend to rebel against overly strict authority at this age. Clamping down hard against all manner of distraction may not be the best approach. Boys need to experience life and make some decisions on their own or they won’t develop the tools that they need to become men. On the other hand, 12-year-olds with raging hormones and confusing new emotions aren’t equipped to make the kind of decisions they’ll face in the junior high years without some significant guidance from a parent.

Authoritarian parenting doesn’t work well here, but many parents make the mistake of going too far to the other extreme, abdicating parental responsibility in order to be the understanding buddy. That approach may avoid some initial conflict, but in the long run it leads only to disaster. Undisciplined children running amok grow up to be undisciplined adults running amok.

As your son enters middle school, he needs to understand both that you are in charge AND that you’ve been there, too. Dads, remember what it was like to be 12. In fact, you might want to remember what it was like when you were 14 or 15, because that’s what today’s 12-year-old is dealing with. Talk to your son about the choices he’ll soon be facing. Talk to him before he gets there so he’s ready.

A few gentle words of warning spoken preemptively on the way to the movies or the park or some special event for just dad and son will go a lot farther than hours of screaming, pleading and arguing after the fact.

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