COMMENTARY: Advice for Parents of Middle Schoolers

First, remember, with emerging demands for independence, worries about peer acceptance, pressures of school and extracurricular activities, and a continuous search for self-identity, adolescents are on a physical and emotional roller coaster. Like every generation before them (including yours), young teens are often arrogant and over-confident about their knowledge and your ignorance, and deeply insecure about most other things. They will make mistakes, behave badly and be thoroughly self-absorbed. Though they want you to be less involved in their lives, they actually need you more. And despite continual battles, if you’re open, you will experience glorious moments both of you will cherish all your lives.

Second, be firm but choose your battles carefully. Don’t back down when you are dealing with an important principle, but don’t make every issue a hill you’re willing to die on. Be willing to lose occasionally, and even give in graciously.

Third, don’t belittle or underestimate the importance of their feelings. It may seem like they are overreacting, but teens feel emotions like embarrassment, loneliness, insecurity, frustration and love truly and intensely. It’s horribly disrespectful to minimize or discount these feelings with useless advice like “You’ll get over it” or “Everyone feels that way.” Nor is it helpful to dismiss or invalidate an emotion by saying, “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

Teens can be hard to love, but be patient. Soon they will be the parents of your grandchildren.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 4

  1. I shared this with a parent of high schoolers since I feel it certainly applies to them as well. Great advice Michael!

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  3. Dear Mr Josephson,

    As always, another great article full of emapthy and feelings. I am very grateful to you for enriching my life with your profound thoughts and experiences…

    Your humble servant,


  4. The principal of our son’s middle school told a group of parents about butterflies emerging from a crysalis. The butterfly’s struggle is part of the necessary preparations for their wings to work correctly. Too much intervention to make it easy, and they will never fly.

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