(This post was written by Matt Grimes, Middle School Ministry Pastor)
Okay, so I have been writing for a while, and since I am the Middle School Pastor, I figured it was time to talk about some specifically middle school. So here we go…a blog post that is focused on parenting middle school aged students, it’s called “Getting in their Shoes”.
One of the most important things you will do as you parent your teenager is to put yourself in their shoes. I don’t literally mean their shoes, those things really stink!!! What I do mean, is that we have to take the time to try and put ourselves into the context that they live and think in. When we do that, we will gain a better perspective on what they are going through and why they make the decisions and choices that they make. Over the next two weeks I want to help us uncover two specific steps that can help us to put ourselves into their shoes.
Step 2: Understand that some things have not changed. If you have worked with or raised a middle schooler for any time period I am sure that you have found yourself, like me many times perplexed by the things that they say and do. I bet you have even stated that there is no way that you did those same things when you were their age. I found myself in one of those situations a couple of weeks ago. I had observed a student, and thought “he is crazy I never would have done that when I was his age.” Later that week I called my mom and told her about it only to hear her reply, “I remember when you did the exact same thing.” After much arguing I had to admit I did do the same thing when I was in middle school. It was a different place in time, but I acted the same way. The truth is that no matter the age difference we all have walked though the turbulent years of being a middle schooler, and when it comes to that journey some things do not change. Let’s take a look at a list of some of the things that middle schoolers go through. Maybe it will jog your memory of when you went through that time period and give you some common ground to connect with the middle schooler in your life.
- The beginning of puberty.
- Rapid growth spurts.
- You became more conscientious about how you look.
- You became keenly aware that despite what you had believed before, the opposite sex does not have cooties, and you find yourself very fond of them.
- Increase in desire for independence.
- Insane desire to be popular.
- Increase in the number of friends in your life.
- Friend became the primary influencer in your life.
- Developed the ability to think abstractly.
- Ability to question what you have been taught develops.
- Ability to solve problems is growing.
- Began to struggle with self esteem.
- Experience the extremes of emotions, all in one day.
- Became more able to express your emotions.
- Began to question what you have always believed to be true.
- Developed the ability to apply spiritual principles to everyday life.
- Wanted to experience what you have been taught.
Just like the middle school student you parent or are working with, you too went through these experiences that they are going through right now. Allow some of these to take you back down memory lane and jar loose some memories that will allow you to talk with your student about what your experience was like when you walked through the same challenges they are walking through right now. Communication makes every relationship better. The better our memories of what it was like for us to be in middle school the better we become at putting ourselves in their shoes and understanding what they are going through and see how we can come along side them and help guide them through these waters.