Dear middle school parent

Your baby isn’t really a baby anymore. He’s a little stinkier, moodier, and you’re not as middle schoolcool as you once were. How did we lose our coolness? Now your son or daughter “all of a sudden” cares if you are within 20 feet of them in public. You give them their first phone, and you wrestle with having to have “the talk.” Please let this message encourage and inspire you. You and your child will both survive the three years of middle school that include changing academics and changing physiology. Below are a few morsels of wisdom that may or may not help you through.

Much like the early years of walking, your middle schooler wants their freedom. They don’t want to hold your hand. They “can do it themselves.” Okay, this is when parents begin to let go. Let them try and do it themselves. But don’t go too far, they will wobble or even fall and will look for you. There is an art to staying close, but not too close. We have to let them go in order for them to begin to understand independence and being responsible for themselves, and their schoolwork.

middle school socialSchool gets a little harder and social becomes a little more important. Changing classes, keeping up with multiple teachers and assignments teaches time management, organization, and an understanding of being accountable. Independence is wonderful but with freedom comes responsibility.

On the social front their friends “understand more than parents.” They are convinced parents never experienced peer pressure, girl/boy trouble or fitting in. That’s ok. Let them have their friends, but know who their friends are. Meet the parents of their friends. If someone is having a party, call the parent and ask if you can send snacks. That question will open the way to finding out other important things like making sure the parents are going to be home, or even know about the party.

Keep communicating. No, your middle schooler may not confide in you like they once did, but keep talking. Ask open-ended questions, ask their opinion. Listen to them more than offer advice.  Don’t be afraid to just let them be. Over time, you’ll learn enough about what they are thinking and going through. And whether or not they show it, they will know that you are there for them when they need you. These exchanges will lead you toward what will one day be an adult relationship.

One other thought, as we begin to give them freedom, remember you as the parent are middle school girlstill in charge. You are giving them some freedom, which means if it’s abused or there are signs they can’t handle it, you can take it away. This will cause all kinds of attitude and drama to show up, but be strong. It’s as important to be consistent with discipline with adolescents as it is with toddlers. But give your child the opportunity to re-earn your trust so that you can start to let go again. The dance of giving and revoking freedoms will continue through high school to the point of both you and your child being ready to launch into college and adulthood. A whole other level of parent/child relationship change.

KK

#parenting

#middleschool

 

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A Glimpse of the Other Side

empty nestI have a teen-ager in my house. Raising him to be a level-headed, productive, faithful adult has been the priority. In a few years, he will graduate and head off to college. My husband and I will begin the journey toward the empty-nest. This summer, our son was chosen to participate in a three-week music program. He would be away without our being able to visit. His departure meant we would have an empty nest.

I’ve heard of couples who really struggle when all the kids leave. No longer do they have a buffer or something other than themselves on which to focus their attention. They have spent years sometimes decades raising kids and functioning as parents. They don’t know how to be individuals and a couple.

I had no expectation about what our three weeks would be like. Would we fight? We don’t usually. Would we talk and spend time together or each find our own space in the house to spend our evenings? What would our weekends be like? No work, no activity with our son’s sports team. Would our conversations center around wondering what he was doing or anecdotes about when he’s with us?

We came home from dropping him off. The energy in the house was different. Admittedly, I felt a little antsy. I had no one to be responsible for. So, I took the dog for a walk. This gave me time to think. I decided to take on a couple of overdue projects while he was gone.

My husband was supportive of the painting and home projects and even suggested one of his own. And so our time began. Our weekdays were pretty normal, we worked. Our evenings were a little different. I tried to plan our dinners. We ate at home, but in front of the television. Several evenings I worked on my projects and finished them in the first week or so. We connected in conversation like we always do. We had a few more date nights then we would have. We laughed and enjoyed just hanging out together. In other words, I was very encouraged by our test run at empty nesting.

I think when the time comes, we will be ready. We will graduate into the next phase of our relationship smoothly. Our son is a blessing and a very special part of our family. But my husband and I like and enjoy each other as well. We are in love and are best friends.

In and of itself, our relationship is strong. We are as intentional about taking care of our marriage as we are about parenting. As parents, we are to raise our kids to release them to live full and productive lives. This is certainly easier said than done. But it’s necessary. Parents, when our job of raising kids is complete, our lives are not over. We will enjoy our son as an adult in whatever work he takes on. Together, my husband and I will have a new adventure in post child-rearing years.

KK

 

The children are our future

This morning in our Sunday school class (or Sunday morning Bible study, whatever you call it) we discussed a passage from Mark 10 when Jesus rebukes his disciples as they attempted to keep the children from Him. There are certainly many layers to this passage to explore, but the one that we camped out on was the fact that children have a point of view on faith and Jesus that we should value and pay attention to. Our children do represent future believers in our churches, future parents passing their faith to another generation, future employees and supervisors who will have a broader spherechildren-7 of influence outside their home and churches. As parents we have an awesome responsibility to our children, to raise them to know the Lord personally and to carry their personal faith into adulthood. Allow me to take this responsibility a step further.

Not every believer is a parent. An individual who is a Christ follower may be an aunt or uncle, a teacher, a coach, or a friend of the family. These adults can have a HUGE impact in the life of a child. As I listened to the lesson this morning and I considered that many of the adults in the class were parents, I was grossly aware of the individuals who are not. But I know them to be investing in the lives of young people who God has brought into their lives.

I don’t often talk about my single parenting days, but during those eight years, the first eight years of my son’s life, I prayed for God to bring Godly men into his life. The prayer was answered in several ways – my brother who came to ball games and concerts; a friend from college who “happened” to be his Bible bowl coach and fifth grade teacher; a good friend who coached basketball and baseball; and the best of all, my husband and his step father who shows Christ to him every day.

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me,” and He drew them into His arms. The children we encounter every day or every week need us to invest in them, take an interest and pray for them. To the parents reading this, be encouraged to stay the course and finish the race of parenting strong. When you are tired ask for prayer. As your children grow and become more independent, this is when the real-life choices come. They need you just as much to guide them through the worldly issues they will encounter, as when they were young and you made all the choices for them.

To the non-parents reading this, find a young person and even if you don’t have a close relationship with them, pray for them. Seek ways to cheer them on to a Godly adulthood.

All the best,

KK

 

On December 24th

candleOn December 24, 1999, I sat in a candle-lit church sanctuary. My stomach was rounded by the second trimester of pregnancy with my first child, a son. The vocalist came out and began to sing, “Mary did you know?” The song goes through all of the wonderfully miraculous things Jesus, the child she would carry and deliver, would do. The song crescendos with how her son would deliver her and the world from their sins.

Believe me, I have no delusions about my own son. He is a normal boy who has been loved and disciplined along the way. Nowhere close to the perfection of Christ. But years ago, sitting there listening to all of the things the Christ-child would do only reminded me of all the things my child might do for Christ. How would my baby’s life play into the kingdom?

If you are pregnant at Christmas this year, or have young children, look at them just as Mary looked at her son who had a divine appointment from inception. Our children have a purpose for the glory of God. Pour into them the scriptures. Pray for God to reveal to them their role in His plan.

My son is 14 now and we are going through some of the stuff teen-agers experience. When he hits a bump in the road I don’t pretend to have all the wisdom and answers. Sometimes I sleep on a big question or difficult request. He knows it too. He knows that if I don’t have the answer, I’m going to pray about it and get back to him. I hope this is a lesson that is more caught than taught. May he continue to grow-up knowing that while we don’t have all the answers, God does.

The seeds are planted and each day I cling to Proverbs 22:6, Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.

I wonder, how did Mary pray for her child? God incarnate. She was young and innocent. So much of what Christ experienced had never been seen before. She had no earthly reference point. But she had the scriptures and the prophecies. God gives what we need.

Unlike the Christ-child, our children will make mistakes and make bad choices. Haven’t we all. May they all land in the loving arms of Christ who was once a baby and then a man who grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Mother did you know?

Merry Christmas,

KK

P.S. — Enjoy this video while you pray for your child or children, Mary Did You Know? (Pentatonix free download)

 

 

 

Five years and counting

khr 0614 BOk friends, I’ve been posting and you’ve been kind enough to read my writings for five years. As I read back through all the different posts some are more my favorites than others. Below is a list of some that stand out to me (in no particular order). Let me know what you think. Or go through the archives and pick your own favorite. I’d love to hear which one you liked.

And if you haven’t clicked on the follow button yet, please do. You won’t want to miss what’s coming. Besides, in this vast world of the internet, it’s encouraging to know my words aren’t just flying around aimlessly. They have friends to visit. Thanks.

5/31/2009 Things not to miss — be in the moment

11/30/2009 Black Friday Gateway to the Dark Side

3/6/2012 ‘Tis the Season

4/18/2014 It’ Friday, Sunday’s Coming

4/8/2013 Say Please and Thank You

KK

The Thrill of Delivery

Today is October 30, 2014.

My first email this morning was amazing. It was from the Franklin Covey Company informing me that my 2015 planner had been shipped!! [Please note, I will not be running down the street in Steve Martin new-telephone-book-style when it arrives, but I might just do the Snoopy dance in my foyer.] This along with the fact that I have to go to Staples today for some paper clips, ink and envelopes makes me smile. It’s like back to school day for a forty-something year old!! Of course, knowing my new planner is on its way and that it’s the end of the month moved me to examine the current state of the 2014 planner.

snoopy dance

The fourth quarter pages were inserted with the previous months being removed. Then I ventured to review my 2014 goals pages. Not too shabby. Several items checked off while others will move forward into 2015.

This all may sound juvenile to some, but come on, we are all grown up and completely responsible for our commitments to raising a family and bringing home the funds to care for them. We must have those moments in day, week or month that just let us experience child-like excitement.

What stirs your child-like thrill? Don’t have one? Go find one, they can be located on the playgrounds or neighborhoods when the ice cream truck music wafts through the air. Or when the first snowflakes fall and the snow day announcement comes. This high level thrill can also be found when that ONE gift is opened at Christmas or birthday; the thing they never thought would arrive. Or find yourself outside a school on the last day at the last bell. You’ll see the excitement that drifts from our scheduled behavior somewhere in our mid-twenties.

Give it a listen and let me know if you don’t find yourself a little happier in your heart.

 Linus and Lucy piano Peanuts theme song Vince Guaraldi

All the best,

KK

1461 days

There are approximately 1461 days from the time our students walk in to high school at age 14 or 15 and when they graduate at age 18 or 19. Over teen 2half of those days are spent in school being educated academically and socially. Being able to navigate academics and the social setting are critical to their success in college and beyond. The teachers and educators need to do their job in the classroom, but we need to do ours in the home.

As I see it (note that I’ve only raised a child to age 14 so far), over the next four years parenting is a process of letting go; giving our children rules or guard rails and then letting them navigate. We need to lifeguard them through these waters. There will be times when it feels like a tug-of-war – they want more freedom than you are willing to give and you don’t know how much to give. If we do this correctly, our kids will have just enough freedom so that when they mess up we can help make the correction. And when they do well, we can recognize their good judgment.

Academics

teen 3There are over 700 days of high school learning. This level of academics should not only teach facts and figures, but also how to think critically. The classes our students take should help them as they begin to figure out are they more science and math oriented or arts and literature minded. These small decisions will begin to lead them toward their next level of education – college or trade school. Guiding a student toward their natural aptitude isn’t just the teacher’s task; this is part of parenting. A young person can change a lot in four years. Parents need to allow them to grow up and grow out of childish things. Parents need to allow them to change. Take time and an interest in guiding your child to learn more about what they like to do. Volunteering is a great way to give a young person experience in an area they may love. Volunteering is also a great precursor to a first job.

Social

A young person’s social life and experiences become very important during high school. It is important that they find friends who are encouraging and fun. This is a great time for parents to help foster good friend choices. Help the high school student understand that who they hang out with archiesays something about themselves. Being affiliated with the wrong people can lead to trouble. This can include who they choose to date. Boyfriends and girlfriends can have too much power over the thoughts and actions of the other. This is an area that parents need to stay engaged. Know who your child’s friends are. Do you call to confirm parties will be chaperoned? Do you read your student’s texts?

This may frustrate your high schooler, but who cares? Oh, you do and that is why you read their texts and call to make sure all is right with the party or event they have been invited to. Reading text messages provides parents with the opportunity to not only learn about their own children, but also about the friend group. The key to this is for the parent to not over-react. I speak from experience on this one. Remember no matter what you read, that the only person in the text conversation you are responsible for is your own child. My rule is that I won’t say anything about what the friends’ text unless it’s something dangerous or illegal. This opens the door to talk about social media and remembering that anything texted, emailed or posted can come back to haunt.

On the party front, one way to not sound like all you are doing is checking up is to call the parent of the student having the party and confirm the time and location and then ask if you can send something – cookies, soda etc. This will open a conversation about the evening and makes it easier to ask about chaperones.

Spiritual

When a young person graduates from high school and goes off to college, work, military or trade school, it is absolutely critical they have a firm spiritual foundation. It’s in those first few years out of high school that if a young person doesn’t stand for something, they will fall for anything. The world can be a scary place for a young person who isn’t grounded in their faith. The mistakes they make at this level can have consequences that are steeper and harder to correct. Academics and social are important, but the choices that will make can be made with much more maturity and wisdom if they have a confidence in their faith.

 

While high school is a time to begin cutting the apron strings, the strings should still be attached. Parents need to remember that a high school teenstudent should be given the freedom to make some of their own decisions; knowing as parents, we are their safety net. We are available to lovingly guide the teenager through the successes and consequences of their choices. Parents, we are still in charge of these young people. Don’t let go too early. What appears to be a mature young man or lady, is really a child who just taller than we are. Inside they are screaming for us to be in charge and help them.

Let me challenge you to do 3 things each day for 1461 days: pray for your children, hug them and tell them they are loved. If you are reading this and have no children of your own, go ahead and do this for a niece or nephew or some other close young person in your life. Pray for their parents as well.-

A teenager who knows they are loved and has someone in their corner will make better choices in friends and activities.

Just a thought,

KK