This is an excerpt from Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.
You will get to know your child so much more when you surround yourself or familiarize yourself with your child’s peers. First, it is lots of fun. The children of this age are so excited to be experiencing the new life offerings that come with this age that their excitement level is contagious. It reminds you, the parent, of how wonderful it felt to be this age. Have a bunch of your child’s friends over one night and you will quickly reminisce back to your middle school days, hopefully, with grand memories.
Their excitement becomes your excitement! Play games with them. Challenge your child’s friends to a competition of fooseball. Dare them to find you while playing flashlight tag. Show them you still have what it takes to play football. Impress them with your kickball abilities. Plan a scavenger hunt. Have the kids create snacks in your kitchen. Conduct a beauty event. Enjoy this time with them.
Surround your child with friends who have like-minded parents. This is when the other parents parent their children with the same boundaries as you parent. Are they raising their child in the same healthy manner as you are? You will quickly know these things after a few conversations with the friend and the parents. Get to know the parents of your child’s friends well.
Discuss with your child if you do have concerns about some friends. I have found that when I had that funny gut feeling about one of my child’s friends, my daughter was having the same feeling. When we talked about it, the feeling was brought to the forefront for her. I encouraged my daughter to listen to those feelings thus helping her to bring those gut reactions to hermain focus. This is exactly what we want for our child, right? We want them to be independent thinkers and focusers about their lives. We want them to recognize and listen to their individual Truths rather than parents dictating it all.
Be the parent who has the house where all your child’s friends hang out. This means purchasing cool toys such as video games, basketball hoop, baseball equipment, volleyball net, big screen TV, TV games, make up, spa items such as a water foot massager, and so forth. This means you create a really cool place for middle school kids to hang out. Perhaps, this means you build a tree house. Perhaps, this means you have a zip line in your backyard. Perhaps, this means you provide your child with a teen-decorated bedroom. This definitely means you are on first name basis with the pizza delivery person, too.
It is the best way to keep a loving and watchful eye on your child. You oversee who enters your home. You oversee the activities. Engage the friends in conversation. Don’t just have them over. Talk to them. Get to know them. Maintain the communication with your child’s friends throughout the years. The monetary, time, and social investment in your child’s friends is well worth the peace that comes from knowing where your child is and knowing his or her friends.