Children always need unconditional love. They especially need to feel this from adults when they are judging themselves so fiercely during the middle school years.
The middle school years were a pivotal time for my daughter and me. What my daughter needed from me was unconditional love. She was experiencing the developmentally appropriate inner turmoil of confusion, fears, and relationship struggles. What she needed was a mom who would listen, remain calm and respectfully set limits and expectations.
I developed a mantra to say before acting to keep me on track. “Will what I am about to say or do build or break my relationship with my daughter?” I put the relationship at the center. Our relationship needed to feel mutually respectful. No doormat mom trying to please and no dictator mom trying to control. If I was about to damage our relationship, our connection, I would stop myself before the damage was done. I considered both of our feelings and perspectives and work on having open dialogue.
Showing children unconditional love builds an unbreakable bond between adults and children. Last Mother’s Day she wrote to me, “I love you and appreciate you more and more each day. I am honored and proud to call you mom. When I am not strong enough to stand up, I do it for you. I do it because I know you love me, too. …You are my heart, you are my soul. I love you.”
The Middle School years are very hard. It is important to know that your children’s brains are growing and maturing. They will not always be stuck in this confused state. Perspective is key. In Parenting 911, Charlene Giannetti and Margaret Sagarese quote Paul Stoltz, president of PEAK Learning Inc. “People who respond to adversity as enduring, far-reaching, internal, and out of their control suffer, while those who respond to it as fleeting, limited, external, and within their control thrive.´ There is a wealth of knowledge for parents today. Use resources and learn how to take control of yourself and build a lifelong connection with your middler.
©2012 Cynthia Klein has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with dads, moms and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, webinars, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the magazine Parenting on the Peninsula. Contact Cynthia at bridges 2 understanding, bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com or call 650. 341.0779.