I’m going to age myself here, but do y’all remember the song Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler? Yes, I am going back to the 80s folks!
This song reminds me of my grandma. It is about having the strength to persevere because of someone you love…someone who helped you; a hero. Part of the chorus is, “I could fly higher than an eagle, For you are the wind beneath my wings.”
Now that I am a mom, this song takes on a deeper meaning. When our babies are born, they are completely dependent on us. It’s that way for a few years. We feed them, bathe them, clothe them, etc…
As they get older, we encourage independence like feeding themselves and learning to use the potty. Then, the school years come, and it’s a whole new ball game.
I’m in the midst of the ball game now. My youngest will be going into first grade next year, my middle daughter into third, and my oldest begins middle school. I am not ready.
I’ve said it every school year, but wowsers this year has flown by!!! I no longer have littles. My heart and head are not sure they are ready for the middle school years. But, I’ve learned that being in denial isn’t going to make my oldest stay home from sixth grade no matter how hard I try to freeze time. So, I have to do my job and prepare her the best I can.
The problem is I’m not sure how to do that. I’m going for what is in my heart and hoping that is the right approach. For me, middle school was the most difficult transition. It was awkward and, man oh man, girls can be REALLY mean at that age! I don’t want my daughter to go through what I did; even though it may be inevitable.
I am trying to instill our family values and teach her to always be kind…even when others are not. This is not always easy, but it’s the key in her character development.
I want my daughter’s self-esteem to blossom during these paramount years. There are so many external factors happening at this age; influences coming from all angles. It’s imperative to give our daughters (and sons) tools, so that when they are feeling defeated they can pull from a full toolbox.
I believe it starts by having good communication…allowing my daughter to come to me with whatever is on her mind. What may seem insignificant or silly to me, may mean the world to her. Middle school is a time of hormones and pressures from peers. So, I will listen. I will be present and have eye contact when she is talking. I will try not to judge, and I will offer my advice if she wants it.
On the other hand, I’m not trying to be her best friend. She has one already. I will be her mom. A mom who listens, and a mom who encourages.
My husband and I will continue to teach her (and her sisters) what we expect of them. If children don’t know what is expected, they won’t know how to behave. Even though this is a time of greater independence, there is still a need for reasonable limits.
We’ve recently crossed over into the world of the first cell phone…I’m still a bit nervous. What I’ve noticed though is setting limits on the use of the phone has worked really well. Remember, even at this age they will test limits…I don’t know if that ever stops? It is our job to continue to set those limits based on our family values.
I think the trickiest thing to teach at this age is developing good judgment. It’s tricky because tweens/teens have so many influences other than parents. Let’s face it, it’s “normal” to think your parents are from outer space at this age. I know I went through a period when I wanted to listen to my friends more than my parents.
I think the main goal here is to provide opportunities for your children to make decisions and reflect on the outcome. Be a good role model and keep communication open. Kids are going to make a bad decision at some point. We all have and so will your kids.
I’m a big believer in prayer. I have prayed for my kids even before I was their mom. Pray for their faith, their friendships, their character, safety etc.
Our children aren’t the only ones who need friends during the school years. It really does take a village. Rely on your girlfriends, find a mentor, and surround yourself with folks who encourage you as a parent. Friends are life savers. Having someone who can come alongside you and say, “Me too!” is priceless.
Something I need to have more of…a sense of humor. Being able to keep a sense of humor in parenting tweens is so important. When we can laugh at ourselves and even our mistakes, our “problems” don’t seem as bad. I know I need to lighten up a little and not take things so seriously. This is a great lesson for me to instill in my daughters as well.
Spending one on one time with each of my daughters is a priority for me and my husband. Living in the Charleston area, we are so blessed with many fun, family-friendly activities. Depending on what your son or daughter enjoys, you can surely find a way to spend some quality time together.
Some of my favorite activities to do with my daughters are going for a walk or a bike ride, walking on the beach, strolling through Mount Pleasant Towne Center or the Tanger Outlets and window shopping, going to Barnes and Noble to read and share a treat, or getting a manicure and pedicure – there are various salons that have kid friendly chairs; if you are looking for something more active to do, rent a paddleboard or kayak around Shem Creek. Ask your child what he or she would like to do…I’m sure you can come up with something fun and exciting!!!
The good news is I have a summer break to put all of these steps into practice. I think from here on out, parenting is going to be a strange, yet fun-filled journey. I wish all of you that are tackling different milestones with your family the best of luck. Let’s learn from one another and be there for each other as we move forward.
Go ahead and plant those deep roots then give your child wings to fly. Watch them soar, and then pat yourself on the back for a job well done!!!