What A Middle School Boy Needs Most from His Parents.
Just saying the words brings me frightening flashbacks of puberty and pimples. Of insecurity and awkwardness. (not to mention, bad hair and braces.)
Really, there may be no more challenging time in life than those middle school years.
(For my international readers, this is roughly from age 10-14.)
Raising four boys of my own, I am keenly aware of all that they go through to transition from boyhood to manhood. Their body, mind, and emotions are changing so quickly, it’s hard to keep up.
And parents, here’s what I know: If there is ever a time your son needs your support, it is in their Middle School years.
Your Middle School son may be pulling away more now…He may be telling you that he’s really grown up now, and ready for all kinds of freedoms. He might tell you that his friends get to do this and that and play this and that, and you’re the a really lame parent if you don’t do the same.
I know, I know.
Because, many parents hit the middle school years and then step back. Maybe there is an awkwardness to this new season in their son’s life, or perhaps the parents just get busy or hit burnout (I get that,) but pulling away and giving kids too much freedom at this age is premature, and can be extremely dangerous.
Sure–you may have taught your kids basic values and morals in their younger years, but now is the time to help them apply it all. Middle School is an ideal time to mentor your son in how to practically work out the character qualities that he learned as a boy.
So even if it seems like the other parents are giving freedoms and privileges that you are not–I say to you, Mom and Dad: Don’t feel pressured to do the same.
You’re better than that.
You know your son better than anyone, and you can make the call when the time is right.
The tricky thing with middle school boys is that there is a huge spectrum of developmental and maturity level among them. You may have a sixth grader who is developmentally still like a fourth grader. On the other hand, you may have an eighth grader who looks and sounds like a seventeen year-old. Things are happening at an inconsistent rate, wildly varying from one young body to the next.
And perhaps your greatest job during these years is to study that boy, and determine just where he is on that spectrum. You, the parent, will know the very best where your son is developmentally and maturity-wise, and you must parent him accordingly. Not according to a number (grade or age.) Not according to what his friends are doing. According to what is the very best thing for you son, in the stage he is currently in.
Hitting the middle school years is like getting to half-time of an important game: You may be ahead now, but the game’s not over. Towel-off, get a big drink of water, and then gear up for the second half. You want to finish strong.
To be fair—There are some middle school students who are very mature, responsible and self-directed. (They’re probably also first borns, but that is another post.) If you have a super mature middle schooler, then open up my “teenage son” post, and begin to incorporate those ideas into your parenting….Slowly, but surely.
But here’s my thing: If they think they are so grown up, give them a chance to prove it.
Example, from a home near mine. 😉
A middle schooler wants an iPhone. His parents had originally told him the soonest he would get one was when he turned thirteen. They told him what maturity level they wanted to see before they would get him a phone. “Most thirteen year olds aren’t that mature yet, but we’ll let you decide.”
Thirteen came, and the parents said no.
Not because he is a bad kid, but because there were a few areas they wanted to see their son mature in. And a phone is a perfect way to help speed up the process.
They reminded him that the phone was dependent on a maturity level, not an age.
And they reminded him that the kind of maturity they thought an iphone-bearing Middle Schooler should have looked like:
Doing chores without being told.
Taking good care of your things, and not losing or breaking them.
Treating your younger siblings with a mature attitude.
Making good choices on t.v. shows, games, and use of your iPod–without constant supervision.
So, they explained, if you are thirteen and doing all of that, you are probably ready to handle a phone.
However, if you are thirteen and bickering constantly with a younger brother…or forgetting to take out the trash…or losing your iPod every other week, then you are probably not ready for a phone.
And they made it just that simple.
My parenting MANTRA: WITH FREEDOM COMES RESPONSIBILITY.
You want more freedom? Show me how responsible you are!
(Please keep in mind with the iPhone example–this son is homeschooled and he is not away from his parents very often He really doesn’t “need” a phone. Some kids in different situations actually need to use a phone, so no judgement. The freedom they have with that phone is still something to consider, but…moving on–)
Whatever maturity level you find your middle school son in, here is list that applies to all:
WHAT EVERY MIDDLE SCHOOL BOY NEEDS MOST FROM HIS PARENTS:
1. Love and support. Tons of it.
2. Supervision; with ever-so-gradual increasing freedoms.
3. Help with friends! Give them guidance and counsel. My favorite quote: “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” Meet their friends, and get to know them as well.
4. Self control. Talk about it. What does it look like? How to apply it.
5. Lots of communication. Talk to him about growing up. Puberty. Choices. Girls. PEER PRESSURE! Please get Dad in on this. Talk to him and let him talk to you.
6. Activity!! Your Middle Schooler is all pent-up with energy, stress, and hormones. Get him moving every single day and it will help tremendously.
7. Laughter. He may not have a fully matured sense of humor yet, but he is getting there. Laugh with your son and enjoy him.
8. Hugs and touch. Mom AND Dad–he needs these from both of you.
9. Healthy food. A Middle Schooler is old enough to understand that his food choices will affect his health, his acne, and his moods. Try hard to have healthy food at home, and help him make good choices when he is not home.
10. Positive places to hang out. Middle Schoolers begin to crave fitting in and hanging out somewhere besides just at home. Find a good youth group, sports teams, or clubs. Not just hanging out down the street, at the skate park or beach, but give them opportunities to connect with good people in good places.
11. Tons of encouragement. “You are growing into such an amazing young man!” “Wow, look at your muscles!” “I’m so proud of WHO you are becoming.” “You are making really good choices!” Etc etc etc. Do not hold back on encouragement!
I should add here that as for our family–faith is woven throughout each item on that list. Our kids know that we love because God first loved us. We use Bible verses to teach self control, and to help them make choices, and so on. So, though I did not specify this in each point, there is very naturally a spiritual element to each thing on that list! 😉
Middle school can be awkward, and challenging–with moods swinging and hormones cranking. It can also be a positive time, as kids gain self-confidence and maturity.
Be involved in your kids’ lives to make these the best years possible!
Leave a comment with any of your ideas or experiences, or feel free to ask a question!
If you enjoyed this article, you will want to get your hands on my new book, Boy Mom: What your son needs most from you.
Order it now on Amazon: Boy Mom: What Your Son Needs Most from You
AND be sure to check out the BOY MOM PODCAST where I make it my goal to offer practical advice and Biblical wisdom for raising boys in this often crazy world! Find it wherever you listen to podcasts!
How about supporting him when the girls are inevitably cruel to him? I was bullied every day by girls, and no one cared. My dad was socially inept (definitely on the spectrum, not his fault) and my mom was too busy with her own life to give a damn. Girls asked me to dances and parties as a joke (I never fell for it). They would tease me for being a loner. I got to the point where I had to ignore anything and everything any girl at the school did. I didn’t tell my parents because I knew it wouldn’t help. And they never asked or cared why I didn’t have any friends. I got through school by learning to become invisible.
John I am so sorry. That must have been awful and I am sorry your parents didn’t talk to you about these things. I hope you know that you were never invisible to God. He sees you wherever you are and I pray you know that He loves you.
Im an uncle trying to help a struggling sis. I cried reading your post, because there were so many things that i try to give my nephew( whom is alot like myself) that i so desperately needed at his age . Thank you for your insight .
thank you! You’re a good brother (and uncle!) Keep communication open and I am sure your role in their life will mean a lot over time!! Aloha to you–
I really loved reading your post and I got a lot out of it. However, I am raising my grandson and he does not have the privilege of having his mom and dad involved so where does that leave us?
Excellent post. Let’s not be afraid to interact with our kiddos (especially boys) just because they are pulling back. Also the perfect time to start (or continue) talks on sexuality and the negative effects of pornography. ~ Hope, https://hopefulmom.net/
My son is a great kid. Hes involved in sports and hes kind to everyone. I give him plenty of opportunities t be independent. His phone is for his safety so we can contact him when hes between school and sports. He abuses that. I have to constantly take it away. Recently I caught him up at 5:45 am downstairs, he had been watching TV all night (snuck down after I tucked him in.). I let him watch tv with me often so it’s not like he’s deprived. He sneaks junk food, although we eat healthy I also buy him treats often to keep at home or take to his events. He’s lying. He’s sneaky. I just can’t figure out why he’s doing this? I think our life is solid, I’m an at home mom he has a younger sister who adores him… any advice on teaching some lessons through stories of times past? Or.. what??
Summer in Oregon
Hey Summer, thank you for sharing. Sorry for the recent challenges with you son, and this sounds like an important time to really focus in on his character. I would really recommend you find ways to get him connected to some role models to further support your efforts.. a Christian youth group with leaders who might notice and encourage your son in a healthy direction…Otherwise you do need to keep using practical consequences and talking to your son about growing up well– what that looks like and why you care enough to train him up well. It’s not easy, but if you love him and discipline him consistently, I think you’ll find your way. Don’t give up! here is one post I wrote on the topic of character: https://monicaswanson.com/3-character-qualities-that-will-set-your-kids-apart/
Hope something here helps! 🙂 With love, Monica
Great article! I pray constantly for my 6th grader and he attends a youth group. Ot breaks my heart when he tells me other kids tell him he is annoying and he cant sit with them. He says he isn’t cool enough. He is ADHD but he is medicated and I think he tries to hang out with these kids. My son does great academically and he is kinda corky in some ways but very loving. I know he can be immature because i see it here at home. I don’t think it comes easy for him to make friends and I am a single mom so I try the best to fulfill the list you posted. One thing is he is comfortable telling me things so that is awesome. I just don’t know what else to say or do but pray. He also says that girls like the cool guys and will he ever have a girlfriend and ect. So any other words I’m at a lost.
Hey Gen — thank you for sharing a bit about you and your son. I’m sorry, but there is no way around it -6th grade (and 7th, 8th and 9th-12th, haha) is hard! I think these years are hard for all kids, some just hide it better than others. 🙂 My best advice is to give your son a safe and happy place at home. It may take time but a real, good friend will turn up eventually. There were years my sons hardly had what they could call a friend, yet they were patient and made the best of their time. They hung with the family and went to youth group. It took time but eventually the truly good kids became their friends. Just keep encouraging your son and try not to worry. It all works out in time! (and you can tell him it’s better to wait for girlfriends until much later anyways! For now focus on the more important things in life!) Hope something in there helps. Keep me posted! all the best. XO
Hi, my son is getting anger in everything .he is not understanding any thing that we are telling. He is getting another meaning for everything. He is not seeing a mother’s Pain. When he gets angry he destroy things in our home and he is. He hates the people who try to restrict him from doing unwanted things he beat them .i don’t know what to do. I want my son back as earlier. He was a good boy one year back. I don’t know what happened. Plz help me
Hi Sateen. I’m so sorry for your difficult situation. It sounds to me like you should be working with a professional. I recommend getting your son to a physician who might refer you for appropriate evaluation and therapy. I wish you all the best. blessings —
18 yr boy Autism ,severe seizures, guide dog & marrying man with 10 yr old atypical add summer heat & a belittling bio mom. Grueling unpredictable embarrassing, so I thought! Wrong! All pure bliss compared to the unexpected death of my son! My son knows a friend of yours. Same one that pushed me into the pool a few years s back. Knows him well. Don’t sweat the small stuff & it’s all small stuff! , & love your kids like it’s the last day you’ll love! My son will be taken from California to Hawaii via his sister to spread his ashes in a place as beautiful & dangerous as my son was! Thank you, know your kind positiveness & understanding has made an impact .
Warmest Regards – Heather
My name is Brandon and I am 26. I serve at my church with the Middle School ministry – befriending, shepherding, and disciple-ing Middle School age boys when I’m not at school or work. Thank you for your article, it was refreshing and informative and very helpful for me.
Thank you Brandon! Great to hear from you. Thank you for what you do– people like you have made a huge difference in my own sons’ lives and I am so grateful for your service! Much aloha and keep in touch. 🙂
Loved this post. I am having some problems with my 13-year old and attitude. I thought your tips about what every boy needs was great!
Such great advice! I’m having trouble getting my 12 year old son to open up. He doesn’t want to talk about anything related to girls/puberty etc. He said he will never talk to me about that stuff. I was told by one of his friends privately that he “gets all the girls.” Funny and cute, but I don’t want him stressed out! I have and older son and daughter who share a whole lot more, so this has been difficult for me.
Perhaps utilize your older son and daughter as your proxy for those “talks “ that your younger son may feel less comfortable having with you. My guess is he may already be going to them for advise. You may want to get buy-in from the older kids first so that when topics are discussed with their younger sibling, what the older siblings convey to their younger sibling would be consistent with what you’d say directly to the younger sibling, if permitted.
I have. A 13yr old.Its challenging at times. Thank you for some insight . I will weave some of the suggestions were needed they were helpful as I AM a single mother.
I’m glad I read this. My soon to be 11 year old will be attending 6th grade and I’m so nervous!!!
Thanks for your post! My 11 year old son does a whole lot of pushups, jumping jacks, and “running to the stop sign” (about 10 houses down from us). Getting them active in the moment of meltdowns, disrespect, etc. helps both son and me calm down and work through the situation with self-control. Yeah, this middle school age has been…interesting. He’s my oldest. We just talked about “girls” tonight because of a situation that has arisen. He freaked out that we brought it up. Good times. It was encouraging that you did say we should talk! He didn’t naturally want to but I thought it was necessary. Thanks again for posting.
Again, so helpful. Thank you Monica!
Good article. My son is almost 10 in just under 6 months and has become so difficult that I want to slap him most days. He also wants an Iphone. 🙂
I hope I can be strong because the road ahead looks mighty choppy. Thanks
Hi Shannon…I can relate to your post so much! Not only do I have an 11 year old son, but one that’s about to be 14 in October. And most days I feel like I’m going to have a nervous breakdown or go on a rampage that I know I’ll regret. I’m in the middle of a knockdown dragout with the oldest because of the condition of his room, and the language he uses (constant cursing), as well as a horribly foul mouth to me anytime I even ask him to do the simplest of things, like taking his clothes downstairs & putting them away. Please let me know if you’ve found ANY ways to help, or diffuse a situation! Thanks, and hang in there!
Oh I’m so sorry!
Hi there, I am struggling with some issues so in my search I came across this article about picking battles, ie his room and it was helpful. It sounds like there is a lot more going on, but I hope this helps you some. I would also consider talking to a counselor as this is abusive and he has some anger issues. I had to do that with my daughter and it helped a lot. Obviously, I only know what was posted here and I am sure there is a lot more. I wish you the best, hang in there mama.
For those that are dealing with ‘angry’ kids (any age) please check out James Dobson. Once you can mend the ‘wounded spirit’ you can really start to foster your relationship with your child and apply all the wonderful God inspired advice that Monica shares. Thank you, Monica.
Fantastic with hope! This topic fills such a need in our world and church! LauiePOP Ideas
Passport to Purity was a vital part of each of our four sons’ teenage years. It is sold by Family Life. My husband had get away weekends with each of them. If we had girls, I would’ve done it with them. It’s a very special time.
Thank you, I have a boy (12), girl(10), boy (8) and have homeschooled my oldest for longest and have pulled each of the others out at different times.
I love kids…little kids. Preteen and teen have always made me uncomfortable. This has helped me so much. I know what to do in so many situations but the whole teen thing is worrisome for me.
I also want to note that both boys have ADHD, my girl shows ADD, and my husband has ADHD & PTSD. My oldest also has high functioning autism, mild tics (motor & vocal) and sensory processing issues. He needs a LOT of sensory input like lots of layers and tight hugs. He is getting so tall (grew 4″ in 8 months and another inch in the last month) and strong but doesn’t know his own strength so this is difficult with his mood swings and outbursts. He also has no friends. I thank you for your comment that no friends is better than “bad” friends.
We live on a farm so getting together is difficult enough. He does get church and a Club but not able to be in Youth yet. I’m usually leader of church groups so it’s like we never get a break from each other. Kids don’t generally like him because of social issues and he and I get into it a LOT AND I never want to and neither does he.
I know God has a purpose for this, even if it’s just to encourage and help others going through the same thing…it’s just hard to go through it. I feel like I often get trials and struggles to learn from and I’m suppose to share from them (my marriage is a whole story of it’s own) but not sure how.
I really appreciate those who know how and do share. Thank you.
Kat-thank you for sharing your struggles. So often I feel like I am the only one who is struggling with my kids (four of them and we homeschool). It is comforting to know I am not alone in this crazy struggle of motherhood. Don’t give up. This is a vapor. Eternity will prove all this labor was worth it.
What a great article. Thanks for this….I’m so relived to hear we’re doing all the good stuff you mention. I am going to keep keeping on with our 10 and 12 year old.
Thank you for this! I really needed to hear some of these things 🙂
My 13 year old son has always been very respectful and helpful at home. Has made good grades and never given me any problems. He’s in 8th grade this year and it seems he has lost his mind. He is lying to me about almost everything. His grades are lacking, he skipped 3 weeks of computer class and went to hang out in the band hall(he’s in band and it’s very important to him) and now this week I found out from text messages in his phone that he had his girlfriend( I wasn’t aware he had one) and he mother to pick him up at his bus stop before the buses ran and he went and ate breakfast with them before
School. His father and I were completely unaware of this. I’ve grounded him from everything we’ve talked to him repeatedly and yet he continues with this type of behavior. I’m at a loss
Jessica, contact me. I’m curious how your son is doing as we have a similar situation here….
None f my bussiness. But, sounds like he has been a good boy. Maybe give a chance of being more responsible. We gotta let them grow. Good luck to you💚
My 12 year old son just had his physical. Measuring in at 5’6″, 119 lbs.(99 percentile for height, 89 percentile weight). Dr tells him based on his puberty maturity and growth chart he will peak off at 5’10”. My son, who plays basketball and hopes to be 6’2″++ and play in college is devastated! Dr continues to tell him “these charts are very accurate” crushing his dreams even more!! Now my son wants to find a different sport!! Surely, the dr and his chart can be wrong! How do I encourage my son not to give up??
Hey Lisa, thank you for commenting. That is very frustrating, isn’t it? First of all, I am pretty sure that 5’6″ at 12 years old is very very tall. I’m no Dr., but it surprises me that the charts would show him peaking off at 5′ 10″ when he is already so tall…Hm. My husband (who is a Dr.) uses a calculation that has to do with the mom and dad’s height with a little adjustment. Regardless, your son must keep doing his best at what he loves to do and let God work out the details of his height. Yes, the charts can ALWAYS be wrong, but meanwhile this is a great time for your son to be open to many directions his future may go — including, but not only basketball. I would have some good chats with him about his identity, and his future. I cover both of these with my sons in Youtube chats. (click on the Youtube link on my side bar and you’ll find them.) All the best to you and I hope your son shocks the doctor and becomes a pro! (Silly Dr. needs better bedside manners also! he could have handled that much better in my opinion.) Keep in touch! Aloha-
Generally, the earlier kids mature, the sooner they stop growing. My son is 14 and 5’6″ and doctor said he will be about 5’8″. We are worried and upset too.
I find this very interesting, because my 13-year-old at his last pediatrician visit was 5’7.5. We were told that his growth trajectory is going to get him at 6 feet! I’m perplexed why they gave you such low height numbers.
I enjoyed the read. But I have a question. My 13 year old is the youngest in our family, but the oldest in his dad’s. Our two families couldn’t be further apart in every way. With that being said, I don’t know how to get my son to understand that it’s ok for our families to be different, that we all love him. When he is with us(he lives with myself, his step-dad, and older sister) he doesn’t want to do anything, but play on his ipod, or video games or read a book. The reading is great just not when we are all outside working in the yard. We have tried everything from punishments to rewards to helping him. He just doesn’t care about the job he does, how he does it even when we show him how to do it. We have tried given him hard jobs and that didn’t work. Any help would be great. Thanks. School isn’t much better. I don’t know if it is because the families don’t talk and he feels like he is being pulled or not. He say that isn’t it.
This is a complex situation of course, and I cannot give you an easy answer. Perhaps a counselor could help figure out the feelings involved and a healthy course of action. I would not allow unlimited game or video (or even book!) time when your son is with you. You are the parent–you can require him to come out of his room and spend time with you, doing chores, etc. Your son could use some inspiration through healthy role models or a solid group of friends. Perhaps a youth group or sports involvement would be beneficial. Hang in there — don’t give up. Pray and keep talking to, and loving your son. Keep me posted, ok? 🙂 ALoha-
After school, drive straight to a park without giving him a chance to go in the house. When everyone gets out of the car..lock the car doors, then start briskly walking for excercise. Don’t leave until at least 30 minutes. Do this everyday! 🙂 this is how I engaged my 11 year old (who is now 15). It worked. And I also got ice cream on the way home.
I would love to know your favorite bible verses that you use as well as your go to verses.
What do you do if your son is socially awkward and has a very hard time making friends? Cold chills went down my spine when I read show me your friends and I will show you your future. He is now a Sophomore in high school and has made two friends. One he is no longer friends with because he was told he was talking about him so we are down to one that constantly gets in trouble and is a bad influence . I’m at a loss here and a terrified mom for my sons future
Amberly–That is so so hard…We want so much for our kids to have great friendships and I know it is heartbreaking when we see them struggle or with less-than-good influences.
My honest answer is not a popular one, but I’ll tell you anyways: I’d say better for a kid to go a season with NO friends, than to hang around with a kid who is in trouble and a bad influence. My sons have each gone through seasons where they literally didn’t have ANY close friends…they spent their free time with our family, and though it broke my heart, I knew they were “OK.” There are many more years ahead to make friends and I just prayed that they would come in time (and they did!) During those years I kept my boys going to a local church youth group, so they had social interactions, they just didn’t happen to “click” with any particular kids there. Still, youth group was their one social outlet and in time they ended up actually getting to know a few kids there and becoming quite good friends. The leaders also reached out and gave my boys extra encouragement which was wonderful. If you can get your son connected to a healthy youth group, I encourage you to do that (whether he wants to or not.) The years that friendships are sparse are great years for kids to explore interests and passions on their own. One of my boys got into bird watching, another became really good at photo editing on the computer. My boys play musical instruments and write stories…these are all good things that can last a lifetime. Influence is huge–don’t risk it! 🙂 (hope something in there helped…Keep me posted, oK?) Many blessings!
Seems like a good time to encourage leadership skills. Teach him to influence the child who is in trouble. Jesus ate with sinners, and was a teacher. Perhaps this is a season to learn about being Christ-like. Joining a youth group is great advice, and help ground your child, giving the extra support needed to develop a leader.
+1 on Paula’s suggestion DEPENDING on the disposition of the boy – some kids are like sponges and soak up whatever is around them, and for such the need for a good environment is paramount. Go read Saint John Bosco who raised boys as a vocation, he summarized his style with “make it easy to be good” -emphasizing scrutiny and control of all they encountered/learned/read including who they hung out with. And that was way before the internet.
Thank you for caring so much about your sons. There wasn’t a hint of “Don’t rape girls” in this article and that’s wonderful in a time when so many women seem to be giving up on their sons as potential rapists.
This was good… thank you! Not sure how I’ll do some of these things – it is a challenging prospect! Right now I have 8 and 10 yr old girls… But a 3 yr old boy. He really keeps me on my toes! I’m nervous about his pre- and teen years.
I was wondering of you have any particular materials you use for teaching character (both for younger kids and older…)? Thanks!
Our favorite resource is the book of Proverbs. We have our teenage boys read a chapter a day. Great to go through with younger kids too. 🙂 Otherwise I shared a post about some of the things I have my older sons read here: https://monicaswanson.com/targeting-character-issues-in-teens/ Aloha!
What is really difficult is a son going through puberty while the mother is peri-menopausal. Any advice for that? I can use all the advice I can get at the moment.
Oh man…That’s double hard!! Just make sure to be taking care of yourself (get whatever help or support you need, supplements, medical care…) and keep a sense of humor. This too shall pass…(Sorry, I’m probably right behind you here, and one day I’ll probably be writing a lot about this! :)) XO
Angela, I’m not sure if I’m exactly peri-menopausal. But, I definitely have something going on with hormones these days…and I have a challenging almost 12 year old son. So, I feel your pain to some degree. I just published this post (https://livingtoencouragebygrace.wordpress.com/2018/07/15/drowning-emotionally/) to explain some of what I’m dealing with and some advice. Thought I’d share in hopes it helps you some. Don’t give up!
Monica.. always timely posts from your blog… reassuring (ok, deliriously reassuring!) to know we really are ALL in this together as parents of teens/young men and are doing our best to send them out in to the big wide world as loving, self-aware men. Thank you and enjoy your summer!
aw, thank you Michelle! I love it when the timing is good on something I share. Be assured, we are all going through it and you’re probably doing a lot better at it than you even think. 🙂 Appreciate you taking the time to comment. Aloha to you and your family!
Boy did I need to see this today Monica! Axel just had his 1st BIG BOY experience & although it was mostly wonderful, (All Stars Baseball Tournament to Kauai) it was somewhat torturous for Mom. All the JUNK FOOD, DEVISE USAGE, FOUL LANGUAGE, LACK OF SUPERVISION, some DIRTY PLAY ON THE FIELD, (Axel getting very possibly intentionally beamed at bat, IN THE HEAD, DEAR GOD & THANK GOD his helmet protected him,) I experienced an emotional roller coaster like nothing I have in a long time, and with my very demonstrative passionate personality, took my 12 yr old son along for much of my ride, ( I mean, I shared with him all of my concerns, frequently!) He had more freedom on this trip than he ever has, & he did great but I have noticed a slight attitude change since we’ve been home. I am working hard.
It is a challenge. Your article was music to my ears this morning. Mahalo & Keep Up the Good Work Grom Mom!
Love & ALoha,
Sarah from Bellingham in Kahalu’u.
ahhh, Sarah- love your comments! You are a great mom, doing a great job. So glad this post was good timing for you. I was looking forward to hearing how the tournament went…Now I know–sounds like quite an experience! 🙂 Keep up the great work and enjoy the rest of summer as well! Aloha-
Thank you SO much your invaluable, awesome, touching-base-at-all-times information, tlc, tips and advice. I am a widowed, single ‘older mom’ just turned 60 – with a life-full of events and stories of course, but the least to say I have a daughter aged 36, a daughter aged 33, a son of nearly 16!!!, two son-in-laws (that are as difference as cheese and chips) and 5 little adorable grandsons aged between 11 and 4 to keep me busy! Your site is just so uplifting and gives me the pat on the back or answers I need whenever I need it, thank you! I have just got a bit of work to do to start to face doing things on my own, ( which I find hugely difficult) so I can lose weight and get a healthier lifestyle and find my new normal entering this phase of my life!
OH bless your heart Bronwynn! What an encouraging message. Kudos to you–You are amazing, I am sure of that. Well done managing so much in life (and such a spread in ages of kids!) and still seeking some support for what you face. That takes character and I am truly impressed! I am so glad you’re here (and I’m pretty sure you could teach me a thing or two as well! 😉 ). I hope you stick around and stay in touch! Aloha-
So great! Thank you! I wonder if you have any readers or ideas and support for middle schoolers who are sharing 2 homes and where the power schould lie in deciding wherevsbd when to go to the other parent’s house. We have a custody arrangement but in trying to empower kids is this a place they should have power?
Such an incredible article right when I needed it! I’m a now divorced mom of 5 kids, working, building a business, in school, recovering from a stroke and illness last year and the sole parent. If it sounds like a lot it is! lol I have three daughters in college and two sons in high school! Right as the boys were going to middle school, I moved and worked long hours. Last year, I was able to stop my nine to five (through 5 years of post divorce planning) and start my own business. I had a small stroke and it took months to recover. Well in the meantime, I was at home recovering and my sons were in middle and high and I was overwhelmed and couldn’t’ quite figure out what to do to reconnect with them from years of being overworked. They are great kids, caused no trouble at all, had three older sisters who stepped in as mom while I recovered. This article has helped me recenter myself and given me a boost as to what I can do to reconnect with my sons. Burnout was my plight. As I was desperately trying to take care of a family and myself, time passed and the points you gave were thoughts and not actions. THANK YOU!! for this gift!
Elena! Wow bless your heart. I am so blown away by all you’ve gone through and how well you’ve done. How good your kids did through it all is just testament to how well you raised them (despite the divorce and all the circumstances). Well done momma! I’m so happy you landed here and I hope a few of my posts encourage you. Please keep in touch!
I need advice on what to do about my 14yr. Old boys anger issues with me.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and the things you have learned about these complicated but lovable boys! My son just finished his first year of middle school and I found your advice sound and comforting, and true!!!
I just happened upon this. It is well written, easy to read and written from the heart. It seems quite logical and a “duh” moment, BUT when it comes to Jr. high, let alone boys, logic seems like a fleeting fairytale. You have four boys…I only have two but might as well be twenty. I want to print this off and staple it to my heart and my forehead. Thank you for writing this and showing the compassion that parents like me need to hear in the midst of this cacophony of teenage boyhood. Thank you for the titles of books also at the end of your post. You have blessed me today.
Carrie–You have blessed ME with your sweet comment! Thank you! I’m so glad that my post hit home for you, and I agree, even common sense can seem so complicated when you’re in the midst of it all. I wish you all the best as you keep parenting with love, grace, and a sense of humor. Hang in there!! (and keep in touch, k? :)) Aloha!
Monica, my son received a text message from his friend today:
There is something I have to tell you………… I…….. just feel like I’m to young to date…… u are very nice but we can still be friends but maybe in our later years ok… we can still be friends though…. I’m not trying to hurt your feelings though… don’t tell anyone
Thanks for sharing. I probably don’t have quite enough info. Was this from a good friend (and male or female?) it sounds like a very nice text actually, and depending on your son’s age it sounds like a reasonable plan. It sounds to me like someone is expressing feelings but with the reality that they are too young to date. Is there a specific concern? Most of all I think it is great that your son shared with you! That says a lot. 😉
As I started my day in tears trying to figure out this whole teen life, I search the Internet for some help and I find this article. THANK YOU MONICA! For so long I felt bad because I kept the grip a little tighter on our now 13 year old because he just wasn’t mature. I wasn’t sad that he wasn’t, I just understood that he was still growing. But when I looked around at the freedoms of other kids I felt like I was treating him like a baby. He is preparing to enter high school in the fall and to say I’m a bag of nerves is an UNDERSTATEMENT! This article certainly helped me to feel OK with his current level of maturity and I’m also going to pick up some of the books you recommended. Thank you for the tips to connect with him and during his upcoming summer break I will do my part to connect on a deeper level to build they trust that high school can often shatter. God bless you!
Thank you Kisha!! I’m so happy you landed on my site, and I hope you find even more encouragement for this season here. 🙂 Hopefully you saw the side bar link to “all of the boy posts”…but I have indeed written on many topics relevant to your son’s age and stage. I’d love to be a (virtual) hand for you to hold as you walk through these times. And I have a feeling you’re gonna do just fine! Thanks for taking the time to comment. Please keep me posted. Aloha
I just subscribed to your post and I quickly went to your posts about What a Middle School Boy needs as my oldest just turned 13 and things are changing and I am nervous and want as much help as possible.
To date, I have prepared myself for a teen by reading lots of great books, asking lots of questions of parents who have gone before that I repsect, and finding your blog is now another resource which I am so grateful for.
Though our son attends public school, and we are not religous, our family has high values and teach our children to respect people of all races and beliefs. I appreciate that you share what works for you and your family, but don’t focus soley on religion or religious teachings in your blog. Thank you so much for this. There are so many families who are agnostic or even aethiest or are working hard to raise kind, gracious and responsible men.
Thank you so much Angela! 🙂 It sounds like you are doing all the right things to prepare and the fact that you are doing that shows you have an intentional mindset–which is KEY. You’re gonna do great through this next season!! Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I hope that my blog provides a bit more support to you in the days to come (my current series ought to be applicable for your son’s age as well!) Much aloha to you–keep in touch.
Is your Middle School boy Homeschooled? I’m thinking about that option but I am scared that I won’t be able to give him what he’ll need. Thank you for your story! Have a great day!!!
Very well stated. Totally agree,
Thank you for taking the time to comment! 😉 Much aloha to you-
I’m a 74 yr old grandmother raising a 11 yr old grandson along with my 79 yr old husband. We know he is embarrassed by us around his friends! Hiwcan we make him feel more comfortable with this situation? Thanks!
For many boys in upper elementary and middle school, the problem has begun from infancy with the belief boys should be strong. For many boys from infancy, they are given increasingly more aggressive treatment by parents, teachers, peers, and others to make them tough and also are not given sufficient kind, stable, *verbal interaction along with proper mental/emotional/communication support for fear of coddling. This is creating a host of academic problems for boys which may show up until middle school when students are then separated according present, ability levels.
The extra aggressive treatment creates more maintained anger, fear, anxiety, and preparation for defense. -To see this we must redefine our average stress as many maintained layers of past, present, future – experiences, fears, anxieties, circumstances, along with many weights and values developed (in this case boys) which tends to become more ingrained they grow in this treatment. These layers take up real mental energy leaving less mental energy for thinking, learning, and reflection time. This is a new thought that goes against our present genetics models or thought that stress only occurs during some situation. The combined more aggressive treatment and less communication creates more activity for stress relief; higher muscle tension that hurts handwriting; and a lower social vocabulary that hurts communication, reading, and writing. The higher average stress and admonitions to simply try harder also create for many boys and improper pace and intensity in approaching newer mental work. This then exacerbates their already higher average stress hurting more so their learning and motivation to learn or mental reward received for mental work expended. The lags in those areas will show up early but not seen readily by parents. Then when the child reaches middle school the lack of accumulation of academic skills begins to show its ugly head when those boys are then cast off into lower academic classes.
Another problem for boys is the granting of love and honor only on condition of some achievement. Boys not achieving are then given more discipline and ridicule to make them try harder “still very much along the false guidelines of ability and more effort”. Support is not given for fear of coddling boys. Boys then reach middle school with the false idea they are just not able or not trying hard enough, when the problem is really very long-term, differential treatment from infancy through adulthood which is given boys to make them tough. Those boys then feel they are not able and in those classrooms where they are being sectioned off in to lower classes, they learn early they are as respected by teachers by being given more busy work and more patronizing treatment by their teachers. They are also recognizing their peers in other classes who are doing better. Those boys then give up, for they feel like failures.
We must begin providing boys with the same kind, stable, verbal interaction, and care, we are providing our girls. We must remove the false genetic models which are leaving out the truth of how our individual environments and differential treatment do really affect thinking, learning, motivation, and mental health. We must begin providing tools to help students continually improve their lives by showing them how they can begin more permanently reducing many non-essential layers of maintained mental work and altering to a proper dynamics their pace and intensity in approach newer mental work. My theory will go to all
My very loving fun middle schooler is really having a hard time with chores. He will either have dishes or laundry as a daily chore and then as weekly chores, he cleans up after the dog, cleans his room, and cleans a half bathroom . He whines, complains and bikers almost daily about this ,he will be 13 in about 2 months. Please help, any advice would be appreciated
Hi Hollie–You are not alone…This is not unusual and honestly it is why a lot (most?) parents give up on chores about this age. It’s up to you–you can give up, or you can make it more painful NOT to do chores than to do them…;) Offer a consequence for not doing them (by a certain time, on his own without multiple reminders, etc.) and make it something he dislikes so much he’d rather just do the chores! (You know his currency, so this might be adding a dirty job to his chore-list which he is required to do before he plays with friends or on a device, or taking away an activity, or whatever you think would make him most uncomfortable.) This will be a process and not easy to follow through on, but trust me–when he’s 16 you’ll be really glad he is trained to do his chores!! 🙂 Aloha-
I think that middle school boys want to be encouraged from their parents and that is why I think encouraging them to read good books is a great start. I wrote three baseball stories that share three ways how to increase self=esteem playing baseball. If middle school kids read books that they like it may enhance them to read more. Yes!
I am really at a hard place in parenting. My son is in 7th grade, so smart, tall and good looking..his grades are mediocre at best. I’m all over him about it and I hate myself for it but don’t know how else to be. My husband and I both work full time so I feel like work keeps me away from seeing what it is exactly about school that isn’t working for him. I wish we could afford private school or for me to stay home to homeschool him but we can’t!! I feel like it’s so unfair. I pray and pray about this but nothing changes. I feel like a failure as a mother and I’m just so frustrated with my son. The kicker is he does his homework- he forgets to turn it in!! I am just at my wits end.
Thank you for commenting. You are not alone–this can be a very challenging stage, and sometimes (boys especially) seem to be forgetful and so spacey during the middle school years! Hang in there. Do NOT blame yourself, my goodness–that will not help anything. If you have genuine concerns, like if you see changes in his behavior or attitude, then you might consider seeing a counselor to help figure out if there are underlying issues. But if it is just grades I really wouldn’t sweat it. Maybe you can offer rewards if he can just raise his grades a little bit (you’ve likely tried that!) or find some creative way to motivate him. I think as he gets older and finds subjects that he really enjoys you might find he does better in school. I do understand your frustration but try to keep perspective. If he is a good kid, staying out of trouble and you have a good relationship, that is amazing. Don’t ruin the relationship over grades! 🙂 Please keep me posted. Much aloha-
Thank you! It’s literally only grades which makes me want to pull my hair out. One grade is an F – not his favorite teacher or subject – and trying to teach him mental focus so he doesn’t just zone out on subjects he doesn’t care for (reading! Of all things and he reads fluently and has an excellent vocabulary!) we had a knock down drag out argument over it tonight so I’ll remember your advice about not hurting the relationship over grades. I’m praying school just “clicks” for him. I feel like I’m to hard on him and other times too lenient. 🙁 anyways he’s never in trouble, well mannered respectful..thank you for helping me focus on the positive, now I’ll have to remind him of the same after so much drama over the F tonight.
oh I totally get it. An “F” is serious and I can see where it made you upset. (I’m sure he understands as well.) I think a required standard of grades (at least a “C”?) is pretty reasonable and it would make sense to give consequences if he does not keep grades up. Perhaps taking a favorite privilege away or making him do a very unpleasant job if he can’t perform at that level would be easier than the knock down drag outs! 🙂 Of course I would only say this if you are certain he is capable and there are no learning issues or underlying problems to explore…Hang int here and don’t give up!
Thank you for this. My oldest is 12 and In the last month have noticed changes. We have homeschooled and 2 days ago my husband and son decided public school was okay and he is enrolled starting Monday. I cannot stop crying. I have lost this boy I knew. My boy who loved to snuggle and talk. He loves to read and I feel like I want to go back and do it over. I miss him already.
My husband, who works with middle schoolers at a public school keeps telling me to “buck it up.” I can’t. I didn’t have time to process this and I’m grieving like it’s a death. The pain I feel is unreal. I may not survive this season in life.
Oh Jen, I wish I could hug you right now. I’m so sorry for your sadness. I want to encourage you though–This is NOT the end…Do not allow yourself to go there. First of all, you can always come back to homeschooling. You might need to step back and just pray and process all of this and see how it goes. You may be totally surprised at how well this goes (You never know!) I also think you and your husband need to be able to communicate with mutual respect–sounds like a good time to get a third party in on the conversation. I think as women we are more emotional and our guys can be more objective–which is good and bad, but you both need to hear the other one. Hang in there but do not panic. It’s gonna be ok! 🙂 Please keep in touch, ok? XO
Thank you! My husband and I have 3 boys (12, 10, and 9) and 1 girl (8). Your article was very helpful.
Thank you Chandra! So glad you enjoyed the article. What an incredible family lineup you have. (A little jealous you got the girl there at the end…;)) I’m so glad you found my blog and hope I might encourage you with other posts as well! Much aloha-
Hi..I’m a 50 yrs old single mother of a 13 yr old son..he’s a great kid. My problem is his grades he has a 3.4 GPA but.. he got and F and a couple D’s I’m really concerned/panic I don’t knw what to do..?
Hi Kathy–Best advice I have right off is to just find a good time to talk about what is going on underneath the grades…Is he distracted, lost interest…is there a bad influence? Give him lots of support and a safe place to share and then listen. You might be able to help him set goals (with rewards.) Role models can be super helpful here too…He might be at an age now where he needs more of a “WHY” for his studies (which are no-doubt getting more challenging.) It might be good to talk about jobs and college and help him get excited about being an excellent student. Keep me posted and I wish you all the best!! 😉 Aloha-
Hi this I need to show my parents because they don’t pay much attention to me. I just broke up today and now I’m all alone with no friends in middle school, and everyone thinks I’m crazy because I’m autistic. Could u do an article like this for autistic kids? That would really help
Mick, I am so sorry you feel that way. I do hope you can show the post to your parents and that they hear your feelings. I am not an expert on autism but perhaps I will have someone guest post on this one day. I know that there is a wide range of ways autism can affect you, so it is hard to make a general statement, but I’ll sure keep that in mind. Meanwhile you’re welcome around here and I hope you know you are never alone. God is there for you and you have a great future ahead of you so don’t give up!! 🙂 Much aloha to you–
Monica, I loved this blog about Middle School boys. I have an 11 year old who I am struggling with … freedoms, girls and friends, it felt like none of this was there last week and one week later it all came knocking at my door. I adore this boy and as his parents we want him to feel love, encouraged and supported but we are not convinced about his maturity and responsibility level. I love the tip about activities and he just moved schools so I need to get to know his new friends quickly. I look forward to reading more. Thanks
Thank you!!! I have two boys, with my eldest preparing for 6th grade in August. This article put my anxious motherly heart to ease, and reminded me that we are on the right track, and that I’m perfectly fine telling him “No” without needing to guilt myself. Bless your wise words and family!
Thank you for this article. Your advice is so in line with my parenting style. My 11 year old starts middle school in 2 months. Yikes, I am really worried.. But this has helped me prepare.
So glad to hear that Jennifer! Thank you for taking time to comment. Don’t be worried–you’ll do great (and so will your son! :)) aloha-
Thank you so much for this information. My family members are surprised when I say no my son does not have a cell phone and yes he must check in with me when he is outside. He needs to know I care about his wellbeing and he has limitations, but potential to prove he can accept additional responsibilities.
Thank you for some advise my son is 13 and is acting very ugly in classes being disrespectful and not doing his work but play the piano at church by ear and can play 4 more instruments I don’t know how to reach him I talk with pray with have taking things away and still no progress help!!!!!worry mom looking for answers
I’m sure you have spoken to him about how this affects his grades and the teacher. Talk to him about how it affect the relationship with you and him. He may be more receptive to that than how it affects the school and teachers. Perhaps have a strong male member from the church speak to him.
As a mother of four boys, two already teenage boys 13 and 12 which are only 10 1/2 months apart (yes you read that right) I find this very helpful. I also have an 8 year old and 3 year old. I do most of these things and feel I have a good bond with my boys. Thanks for sharing
That was awesome
Thank you! 🙂 XO
Have a grandson in Middle School and this helps to understand, a little, what he goes thru daily.
Loved this it’s basically common sense!!!I find it helpful to ease in to conversation about antrying..Not Joking..they become very timid sometimes…just saying
Thank you for this very helpful article!!! We as parents feel so much pressure when it come to iPhones and freedom. I am not ready to let him have it yet, no need and like you said needs to improve his attitude and help around the house more.
Thank you for this. I just recently got married to a man with a now 13 yr old son. I grew up with all sisters and raised a daughter on my own so being thrown into a tween/ teens boy life is challenging but super rewarding And fun. I look foword to having more posts on parenting a boy ! Although I am only 1/3 of the parenting ( a silent 1/3 at that) I can be 1/3 more love that this teen boy needs 🙂
I’m an aussie mum of five. 4 boys and 1 girl. My eldest is my middle school asd/adhd. I am what you describe. And i wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve written. I felt validated after reading this. Thank you.
awesome!! I love to hear that Kylie! Well done and keep it up! 🙂 Aloha-
My son is only 3 right now, but it’s never too early to prepare for those awkward years. Thanks for the valuable tips!
I agree 100%!! We have 3 kids and 1 of each, grade school, middle school, high school. Our middle school is by far the most mature of the 3! My grade schooler wants a phone and I said absolutely not you are not in a need of one you are never with out me other than at school and they have a phone. My high schooler had a phone and due to poor choices and poor grades we took it away for the last time and the next time he gets a phone is when he is 18 and signs the contract. He also wants his ears pierced which his dad and I disagree so when he’s 18 he can do that too. My middle schooler has a 3.5 GPA and when has too much sass or attitude to siblings or not doing chores his phone is taken away. I feel not only middle school but High school needs even more supervision as well. My husband and I agree our job as parents don’t slow down until they are products of society and making their own way then we can be there for help and advice. Until then our job is 24/7 365!! It saddens me to see parents not be there for kids and my kids get a reminder often that they need to remember even though it’s annoying there are kids that want what they have and they take for granted to have parents involved and love them.
We JUST tonight had a discussion with our 10 year old about wanting to read Hunger Games…as of course he lists friends that are enjoying reading it. I’m sure the time will come, when he’s ready (and we are ready) for him to read it or we read them together. My fear is always that by withholding and waiting, we are putting that much more value on the wanted item. On top of that, also today, a little peach fuzz was noticed on his upper lip and the idea of shaving came into conversation…with my TEN year old! My very fun loving, sweet, smart ten year old. It does go by quickly, but I am doing my very best to be cognizant of that and enjoying ever second along the way! Thank you for this article, for confirmation and encouragement…we ARE raising a wonderful young man!
Yes!! This is fabulous. 🙂 I have a boy in this category (and one ahead of him and two coming behind him – oy!). With our oldest I have learned that he still likes Mama’s affection, but he likes it differently now. As he has become conscious of girls (and hormones and the resulting struggle), he does NOT like when I give him a full frontal hug. It is NOT good for him. Instead I make a point of patting his head, throwing my arm around his shoulder, or pounding my hand on his back or chest (in a, “Wow, you are SOLID!” kind of way). I also make a point of not “demanding” any kind of affection from him in front of his friends (common sense, right?) since this season of his life is not about me – it’s about him. We “high five” or don’t touch at all and the result of this respect in public has been that I still get to smooch him on the cheek at home. 😉 It works!
As a middle school teacher for almost 20 years, I’d like to add my professional take also.
1- let your son know it’s ok show emotion. Emotion comes in many forms but allow them the choice to show their anger, disappointment, sadness etc
2- let your son know it’s ok when he makes mistakes. Childhood is about learning- and their frontal lobe isn’t developed (until 27!) so they will make mistakes. Teach them to own it and move on.
3- don’t make your past problems/hiccups theirs. If you weren’t great at math, don’t dismiss his dis/abilities due to your lack of them. encourage him to keep learning and trying.
I was the usual volunteer to take my daughter and her friends places when they were in middle school. I didn’t mind at all as long as they planned ahead. She is a mastermind at planning. I drove and listened. I learned a lot driving them around to activities. And I got to know her friends well.
Great way to get to know your kids’ friends! Love it. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! Aloha-
What would you do if your son said he was gay?
Thank you for commenting Comet…That’s a big question. 🙂 It would depend on a lot of different factors such as his age, how well I know him/feel connected to him, and all kinds of things about his social situation, family etc. Is this something you’re facing, or you’re just wondering how I would personally react? Feel free to email me privately at: [email protected]. Aloha-
I’m a middle school counselor and couldn’t agree more with your post. Whenever I visit the rising 7th grade students in their elementary school to the upcoming transition, I always make them say outloud, “with free comes responsibility.” I then always ask them to explain examples of how middle school offers more freedom, along with more responsibility. I think kids are very receptive to this concept as teens crave that independence. Great post!
So great Sharon! Thank you so much for sharing from your perspective! I love to hear that. And bless you for the work you do– I’m sure it is not easy! Much aloha and keep up the great work!
I am sorry but I must disagree with you. What middle school boy needs is a father. While having a mother is great, she just doesn’t know what is going on in his head. She knows all of the physical things that happen, but she knows nothing about how he feels. I would liken it to me as a father telling my middle school daughter how to use tampons, I can tell her how to, but I couldn’t tell her how she feels about it. I think that at that age a boy needs a father to teach him how to treat girls, that rejection from girls is natural, and like the commercial says what not to hit.
What do I do if my real dad buys my step brother him an iphone 6s silver and he don’t buy me on what do I do I keep telling him when an I getting an iphone 5s silver and he says:NEVER OK JUST STOP TELLIMG ME THAT OK AND I’M NEVER EVER BUY YOU AN IPHONE 6S SILVER
Love this, i have 4 boys.
I started researching how to help your middle school boy and came across this post. I’m glad that I did. It’s fantastic. You offer common sense and well-thought out tips, some of which I knew, but had forgotten to apply with him. Luckily, my son is doing great academically, however, he’s suffering in all the other common ways boys do in 6th grade. Yesterday, he actually said to me that he gets so mad and can’t control himself. Reading this post and a lot of the comments in this thread have brought me some great guidance, tips and the reassurance I was looking for to help my son through his middle school years. Thank you.
This helped me a lot. Thank you. I was having a tough time with my 11 year old. But now understand that hes growing and needs our support.
Thank you for taking time to comment, Susanna! So glad if this helps a little. Hope you have some successful connections with your growing boy! 😉 XO
Hello, My 13 year old son has recently been completely defiant in school. Out of nowhere. Some days better than others. It has been a week or so since the last incident. Today I received a call from the principal that my son said to a teacher in passing yesterday when ask what’s he’s up to ” plotting to assassinate you” I have NEVER hear my son say anything like that. Needless to say he is suspended for 5 days. when I spoke to him while in the principals he was in tears and very , very upset. I am in complete shock not to mention embarrassed. Help!!!
So sorry for what you are going through. It does sound like something is going on underneath all of this and the best thing you can do is connect with your son at a level where he might open up and talk to you. I don’t know how your one-on-one relationship is, or if his father is in the picture, but if you could spend some time just loving on your boy and connecting with him…give him a safe place to tell you what is going on inside of himself. He might need some counseling or help outside the family, but I always recommend starting with just plain love and communication. Keep me posted!
Thanks for this very helpful post! I have a VERY strong willed 6th grader boy who has been relentlessly asking me to get him an iPhone, after we got him an inexpensive smart phone for calling purposes after last summer. Only a day ago he asked to buy a new pair of soccer shoes just because it’s “cheap” ! (reduced to 60 from 300!) He doesn’t even play soccer! He’s a tennis player. I will definitely apply your list of advice accordingly!!
Please email this back to me in approx 4 years time 😉
Ok, I’ll try to remember. 😉
Thank you!! aloha-
I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I often say to my Son that as his Mother I can be present in his life, provide & look after him but importantly as his Mother I need to have presence to guide, love & support him. I thank the Lord that he entrusted me to raise one of his Sons.
Amen! Well said, Lisa! Thank you for taking time to comment. XO
Our family is not religious but i agree with everything you’ve said. Our values are as yours. Kids need that love, support, monitoring, input and a friendly ear all through their different stages but more again during this middle school stage. Good to see this explicitly set out. I will definitely refer to this article again.
Mum of 3 boys, sister to 4 men
Thank you Debbie! Sounds like you too, know the male species well. 🙂 Much Aloha and thank you for the kind words!
My step son is Chinese. He is about to turn 12. We are very unfortunate to soon face the loss of his 38yo mother to cancer. He only arrived here in Australia in July 2015. He still has very limited English. He wants and asks for all the things a typical boy his age would like. We are encouraging him to engage with an English/Chinese church which he is rejecting because right now he would easily otherwise be glued to the computer all day watching movies or playing games without any educational value and not making any friends. Right now he has none. A very tough few years ahead for this young fella.
my son turned thirteen last june and we had a coming of age party where only men were invited to come and share this special day with him. your article touched on so many things that we are going through with him right now. he is a very caring person and is a very good student, he has a younger brother that he loves but tends to argue with a bit to much for my taste,but then again they are home schooled and are in each others face all the time. what caught my attention in the article was the part of being thirteen and acting younger then that. we live in new york and are very protective of him,we just stared letting him go to his church youth group alone and to the library on his own and my wife and i get stressed out when he forgets to call us at certain times. but we feel if we give him the opportunity to prove him self that he will be able to have more freedoms. thank you for this article and the great reminders and advice. may the lord bless you and your family.
Thank you Rafael! I love the idea of the “coming of age” party. Very cool. Sounds like you are super in-tune with your son, and doing a great job. The feelings (ours, as parents :)) are all very real and ok. Your son has an excellent foundation it sounds like, and he’ll do great as he begins to spread his wings! Aloha-
Great article. Please may I share this with my school community?
Thank you Garth!! Yes! You are welcome to. As long as you give credit and link back to my site I would be honored for you to share it. Thank you for asking and Much Aloha to you!!
Great article! Agree with all of it!! Especially being careful with giving them too much freedom and liberties. I’m sharing this! Thank you!
Mom of 5
On the 3rd jr higher;-)
Thanks for not making it about teaching him how to treat a woman. It’s important to learn to interact with others, obviously, but almost all advice blogs/posts/etc regarding boys (that I have come across) imply that their worth is determined mostly by how they treat women, and the parents main role is to teach them this. True valuable advice specific to boys is hard to come by.
I am a 60 year old grandma. Three years ago I became legal guardian of my 8 year old grandson. He is now 11 and just started middle school. I don’t have a clue what I’m doing or if I’m doing it right. My youngest son just turned 31. Things sure have changed since the 80’s.
oh Barbara!! Good for you…I’m sure you have more wisdom than most of us younger moms. Just do your best and give lots of love. I’m sure the same general wisdom applies now as before. Bless your heart for doing that! Hope my posts help a bit! Much Aloha to you–
I love reading this post! I am a mom of two precious boys and they are at this age! 😀
Very helpful and very true. My 11 year old is going on 15! He is the first born of my boys. He has an older sis in first year of college. He has a younger bro. Who is 9. Yes they argue constantly. But mostly because my 11 year old wants his brother to know he is older and wiser. I think that is where my problem lies. As a Christian mom, I think he really needs the understanding that little bro. needs his support and not criticism. My Husband and I am trying to foster that in him.
Thanks for commenting, Eve. I am with you in that scenario also, where one of my boys wants so much to stand out as the older wiser brother…yet this can come across as criticism and tearing down the younger. It’s so hard for their brains to really grasp, but I try to tell him to be proud of his role and one day he’ll know he helped “raise” his younger brother to be secure and confident…That his role in his younger brother’s life is so important. This one takes a lot of reminder, but I’m still working on it! 😉 All the best to you and your family!
I needed this post. I am a step mom of a 12 year old that has moved schools 3x in 3 years.
I stopped reading when you talked about middle schoolers earning an iPhone. One thing you CAN do that will really help your son: don’t give him an iPhone!!! My son has been told how it will hinder him from forming the social skills he will need for the rest of his life. For examples, I point out people at restaurants who are using the phone instead of talking to their friends. He has a basic phone and can call in case of emergency. That’s ALL he needs.. I wish parents would stop giving their middle schoolers iPhones.. They need to focus on academic and social growth, not iPhones and social media..
Thanks for the input Denise, but you might want to finish a post if you feel prompted to comment. In the post I shared that I did not get my middle schooler an iPhone. 😉
I so needed this today!! My son is in 5th grade going j to middle school next year. I’m not sure how to handle the distance that seems to be growing between him and us (his parents). I know it’s a natural part of growing up and gaining independence, but I’m unsure of how to navigate these waters right now. Thank you so much!!
Great article! My 12-yo son has ADHD and he and I just moved from CA to IL 6 months ago. He’s a bit socially awkward and impulsive so making friends at school hasn’t been the easiest. The biggest challenge was moving from his old school in a bedroom community where he grew up with everyone from Kindergarten to 6th; and now in 7th grade being the new kid and not knowing anyone he doesn’t have that large group of friends anymore.
Weekly youth group and therapy with a male LCSW have been huge outlets for him. He also does dance classes (hip-hop and tap) and electric guitar lessons. He now says he wants to practice guitar even more so he can be in the youth band at church, and finally has a realistic career in mind – a History teacher 🙂 Not sure if it will stick, but it’s something other than an NFL quarterback, a YouTube sensation, or professional gamer. Also, the couple of friends that he does have live close by and they come hang at my house every Friday after school. I feed them dinner and they play video games or watch a movie. They like coming over because I’m fun but they know what my house rules/boundaries are – no cussing, no visitors when I’m not home, no leaving messes, and just general common courtesy. Otherwise, most topics are open. I want them to feel comfortable with me. It seems to have worked in my favor so far.
You always hit the nail on the head!! I needed this blog!!
Thank you verry much,ik have to do this .I have a verry hard time now .This Will help me.
May God bless you.
Oh I am so glad….Thank you for letting me know. I hope you find encouragement and strength to do your best! 😉 Aloha-
My favorite book lately on this topic, is “How to really Love your teen”, by Ross Campbell. Talks about how to really love your kids, quality time, focused attention & eye contact & how to help them express anger in a healthy way.(critical to helping them avoid the subconscious passive-aggressive behavior that results if they don’t learn (over years 10-16 to handle anger in healthy ways) critical to helping them or that passive aggressive behavior can subconsciously become their permanent way of dealing w anger in life. Awesome book, great practical parenting handbook as you enter the teen years!!! Quick read!!😍
Oh thank you for that tip, Jenny. Sounds like a very helpful book. I’ll look into it! 😉 aloha-
Was wondering, do you have a site you published the categories of scripture for particular areas for the What a Middle School Boy Needs? That would make it much easier for me and for me to share with my grandsons. We are raising two grandsons, ages 12 and 7 yrs old and hopefully, my granddaughter 5 yrs old.
Can you recommend a good “puberty/changing body” book for my son to use a resource?
Great question Jennifer. our family has used a series put out by Family Life, but I am actually in the process of looking into a bunch of other books as well..>Because I am about to kick off a series on that very topic! 🙂 (Great timing on your question.) If you can stay tuned I should have some good resources on the blog very soon! Aloha-
Thanks. Having a 15 year old son, I think you nailed it. Keep up the good work.
Excellent article. I would add one thing to your list, though – be sure that they get a good night’s sleep each and every night. Far too many of my eighth grade students walk into class like zombies, having gone to bed late the night before. It’s nearly impossible to learn in that frame of mind. I would also add that computers and phones are most often the cause of the lost sleep hours. Please, parents, store all electronics during the night hours.
such a good comment, thank you Sue! I totally agree with you! (Thus our renewed commitment in our home to early o bed early o rise this school year :)) Day four: so far so good! Aloha–
I used to teach middle school and junior high, as well as, senior high. Stopped teaching when I has children to be a parent. Now I have 2 teen boys. This is a great article. We need to remember we are the parent, not our child’s friend. They need to know there will be consequences for actions, both positive and negative. Don’t forget the positive and keep your word. Children learn by example and integrity is a valuable characteristic.
Great post. Just got a little problem which I am facing right now. I don’t want to give all the details but just briefly. 14 year old son of my “friends” for about two months now starts some how looking up too me. His dead works from early in the morning to late at night, drinks and doesn’t have much interest in spending time with his son. His mom has three more younger kids to take care of do she is completely happy that I will take him out. I don’t really know what should I do. I don’t want to push him away but I don’t want to take his parents place as well. Any thoughts?
Jack, thank you so much for reading this post and commenting. Bless your heart. Sounds like you are playing an important role in this 14 yr. old’s life. I think the best advice I can give is to figure out what you think your role should be in the boy’s life (literally write it out if you can,) and then set firm boundaries. It sounds like, if you have the time, you might be a real father-figure in this boy’s life for this season at least, and perhaps you can continue to be a secure person for him to turn to. However you might want to communicate some boundaries to him…remind him who his parents are, and even talk to him about his relationship with them (“It may not be super closer right now, but maybe in time you’ll be able to spend more time with your dad…”) Just keep things as open as possible. Also, are you able to communicate with the parents? If so I would suggest running your thoughts by them. Let them know you want to respect them as parents, but that you are willing to spend some time with their son if they support that. I always lean towards more than less communication. I pray that you play a great role in this boy’s life. Way to go!
Awesome article! It’s definitely time to teach kids how to self-advocate and take responsibility for themselves, while still providing a guiding hand. It’s a tough balancing act, but you provide some excellent pointers.
Thank you Rebecca! You’re right–a tough balance indeed. Thanks for commenting! ALoha-
There is a good book for African American middle school boys called As a Young Man Thinketh. Its published by Hawfbooks.com
The book inspiring and motivational
I just read your article about teens and middleschoolers and they were very interesting.
You mentioned scriptures to go along with these points. Do you have that list somewhere? I would love to see it if you do!
Great article, great things for kids and parents. A good book to add to the list, Boys Guide To Girls. Helpful for both boys and for parents.
Thank you Gary! I’ll definitely look into that one, I have never heard of it! Much aloha! 🙂
Please enroll me with the email address: [email protected], for some reason it won’t let me. It only accepted my auto-fill option.
Anyways, I have a 12 yr old boy, who will be turning 13 in less than a month. I read your other article on What Every Teenage Boy Needs… before I read THIS article. I have decided that THIS is the more appropriate one for my son at this stage. Thank you for putting your thoughts into words for others like me to glean from! My oldest boy is 26, and it feels like FOREVER ago that he was just turning 13. This time around is my LAST time around (God willing!!), and I want to get it as close to perfect as possible. He’s my “baby” out of the five between my husband & me. I’ve had children of my own (under teen years) since I was 16 yrs old. Now, I have my 12 yr old and a 15 yr old. Soon I will be finished with this task of raising my OWN children and possibly move on to grandchildren.
God bless you for blessing and helping so many of us!!
Monica, I just found your blog through MOB society and feel very encouraged by reading it. Thank you for taking time to share your insights and experiences, very helpful for a mom of two boys, middle schoolers 12 and 14. God bless, and keep up the good work! Thank you!
Thank you Debi!! So glad you stopped in, and thank you for commenting! Enjoy those middle schoolers, 😉 Aloha!
How do I help my eighth grade boy deal with friends he has had for years picking on him? Together they make a group of three sometimes number four is around. Him and number one have been best friends since first grade. Number two is from a large family that tend to pick on each other. This number two has been around a few years. When they all get together now everyone follows number two and makes my son the target of ridicule to the point he comes home very upset. My son has a good sense of humor and can take a joke, but seems to know when enough is enough. How does a Mom help my son without interfering or embarrassing him? And I what point do I call it quits and recommend he find another circle of friends?
Tonya–Oh ouch…I’m so sorry, I can just feel your pain! This may be a good one for my Ask Monica feature coming very soon, as i believe a lot of us moms relate to what you’re going through. My best advice is almost always to communicate. To teach your son to say a few words to the one friend he thinks he can count on (in private if possible,) and let him know it’s just too much. He can put it out there and if there is no respect, then indeed, it could be time to find some better friends. Sometimes it seems there are no good friends, and that can be so lonely, but being mistreated is never ever ok, and you don’t want your son to think he has to take that in order to have friends. Hang in there, keep talking, showing support, and teaching your boy what is right.
I have just recently discovered your blog and love it!! I have 3 boys, I love Hawaii, & we will start home schooling with our middle schooler in Sept, so I think I’ll find myself reading your blog on a regular basis : )
This is a great article and I really enjoy your writing style : ) I agree with everything you mentioned and now have some new ‘tools’ under my belt for when my son starts asking for his own phone ; )
The only thing I didn’t really agree with is telling our boys ‘Wow, look at your muscles!’ Personally, I think it’s better to applaud them for making healthy food choices or for going for that run or for having a healthy body. On the flip side, I feel it’s kinda like applauding our daughters for having a flat stomach or a small waist. Real power comes from within, both for our boys & for girls : )
Thanks for your post, my partner and I don’t have kids yet but we have lots of nieces and nephews and are very active in their lives especially during holidays with sleepovers, fishing, camping trips etc. All the boys are about to hit middle school so this is so wonderful to hear your views as I didn’t have any brothers growing up and went to a girls school for high school! Still a bit clueless but less as the years go along.
Warm Thoughts Gigi, Aldinga South Australia
Great article. I especially agree with your thoughts on engaging in activity. I’ve found with my boys that even from the time they were grade schoolers, they always opened up to me when we were playing catch or kicking the soccer ball or any number of physical activities. Something about being physical made them loosen up mentally.
Great info & advice!
I role play with my children. Their teenagers now, but as they were growing up, I would take a book, 2 laundry baskets, and a chair into their room(when it needed cleaned). I said any dirt Clothes go in this basket, anything that you don’t want or doesn’t fit goes in this one. I would read to them as they cleaned their room. I was involved, and in their room as they cleaned. They didn’t want it to end and they would clean under their bed as well and clean out their closet. Not one complaint about it. Now as teenagers, they keep their rooms neat as pins. My daughter’s room you can’t even find a dust bunny under her bed. When I finished the book, I would sit there and the conversations were great, we interacted and we both had a great time. When it was time to clean my room, they would read to me, this helped with their reading skills without them even knowing. We still have great one on one time together, it’s Priceless.
Ok that is just brilliant!! Love love it! Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to try that!! Aloha
Goodness Gracious! Its like this article was written for me! Thank you so much! Raising boys is tricky!
As a retired high school teacher of 40 years, I would like to acknowledge how applicable your comments and insights are for high school students also. As you emphasized, it not your age that determines your freedoms, it’s your actions.
I love this post SO much! I have a fairly mature and responsible middle schooler, and it’s sometimes hard to remember that he’s not a little boy anymore….nor is he an adult. It’s a complicated time, and I think you’re so right that it’s not the time to pull back on parental involvement.
Thanks! Needed a refresher with life being so busy!
Hi Monica.. Thank you for this post.. It really helped me a lot. Got two boys aged 14 and 12. My eldest son is very serious, excels in guitar and academic and hate sports. My other son, on the other hand, is into sports (a high red belt in Taekwondo), not into studying but maintains good grades, very moody and a picky eater. Dealing with their different interests and attitudes sometimes make me tired.. It’s like, every day is a learning process.. Adjusting to their needs and attitudes is like a game for me.
Monica, your post really inspires me. It is timely and helpful. I hope you continue doing this.
This is great! I hope everyone can get something out of this… I love your quote about half time, perfect analogy… I have my first middle school boy, uhhhggg it takes patience.
Thanks for the article!
Cool but I wish u had on for girls
Most people tell me that these lists apply just as well to girls. Of course in the Middle school years there may be a few unique “girl” things, but overall, I think you can follow the list pretty well!! Thanks and aloha!
i always try to give my son examples of what can happen at a dance for example. I tell him never take anything from anyone. Don’t ever leave the dance to go outside . Don’t kiss any girls. If you are in awkward position text me I will there asap
Excellent article with specific examples to follow – very clearly written – perfect guidelines to follow for the next few years!!!thank you!!
I love this!! I have three boys with the oldest being 8. It’s nice to have some insight from moms who have been there done that! Thank you!!
Love your words…I too am a mom of 3 boys and a homeschooler…we have had our ups and downs but over the hump with our oldest (15)and yes these years are precious and unfamiliar territory and oh so fun when you can cross that bridge to connect and respect each other. We have other issues at hand such as ADD and anxiety and ACTIVITY is just the best medicine…we run together or he skateboards and I run just enjoying the outdoors and connecting all while getting some great vitamin D and endorphins. Thank you so much for your blog….great advice!
Thank you for this informative article-it is so true and I wish that I saw more parents wanting to spend this quality time with their kids, it all goes by so quickly as it is and they are truly precious times. Just FYI (although I completely see your point), homeschoolers can possibly need a cell phone to communicate more than one would think-those of us who homeschool end up bringing our kids to many outside activities and classes so just for logistics’ sake, you’d be surprised…Much gratitude for sharing your wise words of advice. Wishing you well always… xo, A Happy Momma 🙂
As a middle school teacher, I agree. Thanks for posting.
Is 15 to late to start
He seems ok ish now
Never too late Leslie! 🙂 If he is 15 and seeming ok, you’re obviously doing something right. And we can all just keep doing better and better. Aloha!
hi, i just ran across your articles and LOVE them. I have an 11 year old and I just want him to be safe and always know he is the love of my life and i am there. i really like what i am reading from you. having had 4 boys i wondered if you have a reference in talking to boys about puberty? A book, an article that directed you? i want to share things with my son but just at a slow pace (not tooo much tooo soon!).
I am a mother of 4 boys also the first three are now 28,29 and 32 my youngest is 12 and he has a completely different personality than my other 3 did and he is a straight A student, I am hoping this helps me with him I am a single mother and we Mix like oil and water I love my son with all my heart and would love to stop fighting all of the time, I read your articles and they have been very helpful. I want to thank you for sharing your life experiences with all of us. I will take any advise I can get.
This was a great reminder–easy to fall into passive parenting. Thank you!!
I needed this! Totally agree with everything! My boys are going through this transition right now and this is exactly what they’ve been feeling. Thank you!
This is perfect timing for me! My oldest son is a fourth grader and knowing this advice will help me once he enters that stage, which I am extremely terrified of!
So, I’m casually scrolling through my Facebook feed when I see a pic of a boy that looks so familiar. In a MOB article/blog, no less. I click and I find YOU!!! I had no idea you blog! Well done 🙂
Oh my! This is timely. I’ve homeschooled my 6th grader since 3rd grade. Now he wants to go back to regular school. I personally don’t think it’s the best choice. We are meeting with the middle school counselor next week to tour the school. There’s so much to think and pray about. Thanks for your post!
My son is homeschooled (age 12)and we struggle with him doing chores on his own, but he does do chores everyday. He loves video games and I was hesitant to let him play with his friends with headphones. I like to know what his friends are saying. He plays in the living room, so we always know what he’s exposed to. One day I was doing the dishes, and a kid came on that was a friend of his friend(an older boy), when he started cursing loudly, I overheard my son give him a verbal warning about the language and when the boy continued my son put him on mute. I know it must have been hard for him to do that in front of his friends. I was proud though, that he had the courage to stand up for his values, so this showed he me was old enough to use headphones. It’s a small freedom, but he was very appreciative.
I couldnt agree more!! But do have an issue I need help dealing with. I have 3 boys, twins that are 14 and a 10 year old. Their father and I divorced 6 years ago. I am a single mom who works full time and am goin back to school. My problem is one of the twins moved in with thrir father two years ago, the other twin had had nothing to do with his dad for awhile now? Because everytime he would go there his dad would put me down. So I didn’t make him go, I dont feel he should have to hear that stuff. And his dad hasn’t argued or tried to see him. He doesnt give bday gifts or christmas gifts to him, but does his twin. Now my 10 year old started crying everytime he has to go there, says his dad is mean to him, saying things like he could careless if he comes there anymore, and he gets in trouble if he tells me anything that goes on there or things his dad says to him. I tried to tell his father and his gf that we need to sit down and talk about this and they refuse to. So therefore im not making my child go back there if he doesnt want to. Am I doin the right thing and how do you explain to a 10 year old when he cries saying his dad doesnt want him??? Feeling heartbroken for my son:(
This is a very sad situation. It frustrates me about the dad. He has the opportunity of the lifetime to speak something worth while into the next generation and he is missing it. I was a single dad for a boy and girl from the ages of 10 and 9 all the way to when they left home. My house was the teenage hang out house as well.
For you, I would contact a counselor on it all, and I think I would contact an attorney for some possible changes in the parenting plan. Think it through though, a good counselor and a good attorney could help with some great ideas. That should be your next move, since the father and his gf seemingly won’t listen.
Super good advice, Thank you John!! I was just about to reply but I think you said it best of all. 🙂 Aloha
I don’t have the answers for you. But I do suggest prayer. It is sad what you say. They are learning some hard life lessons about people. Your boys need to know that you care about them regardless of what others do or say. And that is what I would tell them if they were my boys. That no matter what others do or say I will always be your mom and always love you. That as your mother I am your best friend. You never have to keep any secrets from me and I will always support you in being who you are meant to be. I am sorry your dad says those things to you. It is not right to be unkind to others. I won’t make you go there unless you are required by law. Enjoy spending time with your brothers while you are there. as a parent- See if anything bad is happening that needs legal action. Keep them safe first.
I am SO sorry Jaime! My heart just breaks for your situation. I think John’s advice was super solid. (Beawesome’s was also very thoughtful–and well said.) Keep praying and seeking solutions. This should not be left alone. I think things could get better. Hang in there and keep me posted. Aloha
Great post. I don’t have any regrets about getting my son a phone at 9 but it was for our purpose so we could get a hold of him or keep him accountable, and we started with a ‘dumb’, just a phone to make calls on, no texting or anything…. I think this has helped him become more mature. Thank you for all those reminders they do need so much regardless of how they act, cause sometimes it’s easier to pull away than to draw nearer. And TONS of prayer!!! The Lord has all the anwers we need and is the strong foundation we and our MS boys can fall back on… Thanks again!
I do believe that the articles are great and Perfect Timing! However, why is it that adults keep calling my son unethical and that he has no values all because after extensive teaching of many religions he has chosen not to worship a god and feels that so far throughout history, all wars have been based in some way on religion! Perhaps he is ahead of his 11 years but he has made the conclusion on his own and should not be meant to feel inferior and chastised for his current very clear and pertinent ideas! We have chosen not to brainwash him into believing but rather teach him about the history of all religion and allow him to learn and explore the good, bad, and ugly of them all so he can grow up making an educated decision as he gets older as to join a religion or remain athiest. Please stop the comments that without our all mighty God and praising Jesus is the only way to get through this! Stop and have in depth conversations with your children and maybe, just maybe, you might learn something from them and they will then be comfortable opening up to you and letting you know exactly what they need during this very wild and changing time of their lives.
Why are you reading this blog???? This woman obviously believes that God can help her in raising her sons! What right do you have to tell her that she can’t write or speak of how ALMIGHTY GOD HAS HELPED HER!!!! She truly believes this and if you have problem with that then stop reading her blog!!! She has not told you are tried to persuade you that God is the only way. She is writing what she believes!! Nothing aggravates me more than people who are only tolerant when someone believes what they believe!!! There are enough blogs and videos and speeches and websites on the internet that surely you can find one that agrees with your way of thinking instead of bashing someone elses way of thinking!!!
In my experience of raising 4 boys and one girl, It helped our children knowing that there is a higher power to answer too. That all of us, even us parents, are accountable for all that we do. Good day friend!
Brilliantly worded and so right. I have had moms complain to me that their “baby boys” are suddenly disrespectful and lazy. When I ask how old they are I’m never surprised when they say 10. It is hard for us to imagine that our boys are growing into Men. Boys can so loving and cuddly and try so hard to please us. Then hormones happen and we are taken aback. We have to learn how to let go while at the same time guiding them to adulthood. It’s the most difficult task I’ve ever taken on but so worth it.
I’m just entering this phase and I’ve been battling. I have three older daughters, but somehow their growing up didn’t look as hard as my son’s. He has just turned ten.
You’re in good company here, Caro! I hope you’ll stick around as there’s a whole lot of boy moms in the same stage and we can do this together! 🙂 I hope you find many light and fun moments in the mix, but yes, this can be a challenging season of transition. Thank you for commenting. aloha-
Fantastically stated! Thank you for sharing these insightful and important reminders. Your sage advice (and writing style) have created another follower. Thanks!
This is so thoughtful and spot on . I have 2 boys and want to parent them well. I can’t wait to share this with the group of moms I’m in the celebrates the challenges of middle and high school. Love you site!
Great post! My son is almost 14 and I think, he would be a good example of a mature, looking more like 16/17 type of middle schooler. I think, there are definitely areas he can improve on but then who doesn’t have those. He’s also our first born and only boy… Lots of stuff to carry on his shoulders! But all in all I’d say he’s a good boy and many of his teachers tell me what a delight he is to have in class – something every mom loves to hear!
wonderful post Monica!! Thank you so much. Good motivation to read your post early in the morning (swiss time) to get ready for the day with my two sons !! Its hard work day by day but it comes back, its rewarding and wonderful to see what they do, who they are and what they achieve.
Your posts are the best!! Again and again.. I have to say, so glad that I found your Site :-). Greetings from Switzerland !
Oh yes! I’m sure this post was written for me as I try to navigate the ever-changing landscape of raising a 13 year old, 8th grade boy! Thank you for your thoughtful insight and the reminder I see in so many of your posts — that 13 year old boys (and moms, dads, sons, daughters, etc.) need love, support and encouragement. Amen, sister!
I enjoyed reading the ‘maturity-level checklist’. It makes so much sense and I think if we put it across our middle schooler in points, they will understand it better.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and knowledge.
I wish I would’ve put more thought into letting my children get cell phones and I think your formula, Monica, for testing to see if they’re mature enough is so valuable. Parents really need to consider what their kids will be exposed to if they get them a Smart phone with internet or Wi-fi. There is so much negative pressure with social media like Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat. I’m wishing I waited until high school.
Thanks for this post, Monica. This is so timely for us. We are homeschooling our 11 year old and dealing with this now. He also is begging for a smartphone and tells us how “everyone else has one!” I like that your standard is the boy’s developmental level, not age or grade. A very helpful post!
I commend all you moms that home school….you are amazing! My boys go public school and sometimes I cringe at the things kids are exposed to in schools, at all levels. I really agree with all you say in your post. Keeping communication open with my sullen/sulky/sensitive 12 year old can be so difficult, but I know good communication is the base for any healthy relationship, so I keep trying. I am also am amazed every day how different my 2 boys are and I think it is really important to keep that in mind as a parent. What work for one child might not work for the other…. Thank you for another great post Monica.
Thanks for this post! We have been struggling with our 13 year old eighth grader that looks more like a 16 year old. He wants to hang out with older kids, but doesn’t always make safe, mature decisions. I will definitely be sharing the 11 points above with my husband.
I work at a middle school and agree wholeheartedly with this post. Very well said!!
Great post! I have an 11 year old; he will be 12 next month. We home school too. He is really struggling with lack of self control and mood swings. Mainly lack of self control with respecting me and picking on his little sisters. It’s such a daily struggle. He is a great kid and I know he is just growing up and wanting more independence. I have been thinking a lot about your manta: With freedom comes responsibility. He also asks everyday about getting a cell phone. You know, because all his friends have one. 🙂 I like your idea of relating it to maturity level. Lots to think about. Thanks so much for sharing.
Praying with your middle school son will have such an impact on him! Please pray with your children! They are your gift…remember to thank them for that ! Chef Cathy Z
Yes Cathy! Thank you. We do pray often with all of our boys, and I know that their relationship with God is their very secure foundation! 😉 aloha
Try A Cell Phone Contract to Help Build Sticky Faith with Your Child https://theyouthculturereport.com/a-cell-phone-contract-to-help-build-sticky-faith/
Thanks for sharing that!
As a middle school youth group leader…I whole heartedly agree with all of this.
It is a medical fact that the frontal lobe of the brain that controls seeing results is not mature in a middle school child. A middle school child can not think ahead to see what may happen if he does whatever. I’m sure many parents have said the phrase “what were you thinking?”. They weren’t and couldn’t. The parents must instill and point out the results.
Everything that I have read me and my husband is doing. We love our son so much. We are dealing with him not wanting to tell the truth because he thinks its easy that way then to tell us the truth. His thing he does not want to be yelled at. We tell him over and over to stop putting things in the bathroom tub when he’s in there and he breaks things and we find out later he did it. He has I don’t fare at this and his think process for answering is slow. Yessss I got him tested and he passed all of the testing. I.Q is high and it was stated he’s lazy. Help. Now we ask him why and the thought process is not there so we tell him over and over the results we do the visual.
My son is acting just like yours is. He is eleven. The only thing I think that will work is constant repeating your wishes until he complies with you. I take away priveledges and I also constantly talk to him telling him why he must or must not do things. I explain to him why certain behaviors are wrong. The lying He continues with for the same reason as your son; he does not want to get yelled at. Maybe we need to stop yelling when things happen and try to be cooler.