I am raising a sixth grader.
Now that I wrote that, I am looking at this computer screen much like I look at my child each day.
I don’t know what to expect or to do next. And so I pray… a lot.
Saturday morning, I stepped out of the shower to find the smell of something burning lingering through my bathroom door. I shouted from the room, “what are you doing?” My daughter, who had still been in the bed when I decided to slip away to wash my hair, yells back, “I just wanted to make something to eat.” She took a home economics class this past quarter and suddenly she thinks she knows how to cook. Now mind you, she has been allowed to make certain things in the kitchen. Yet, it is her choices lately (not just in what to cook but in everything) that have me near tears most days. I can’t figure out what is going on in that head of hers. All of a sudden, middle school has made her think she no longer needs permission to do anything and she knows best about everything concerning her. How did we get here and why so soon. She is only in sixth grade. How can she possibly think that she no longer needs guidance from me in sixth grade? She burned my countertop and a large pot. But she knows best…right?
Let’s bow for a word of prayer.
Father in Heaven, you chose me to shape the mind and heart of your child.
You gave me the commandment to nurture this child in your ways.
The influences around your sons and daughters seek to steal them away,
Help me to parent and teach them well how to find you in the mire.
Lord, never let them go astray and may you become their heart’s desire.
I need you, Lord, I need you to guide us in this time.
Because if I don’t hear from you each day, I feel like I will lose my mind.
In Jesus Name, Amen
I have to pray because this stage of human development is challenging me like no stage before. I thought weaning them from nursing was going to take the life out of me. But this is a different kind of weaning and it will be detrimental to her development if we don’t get it right. I have to carefully withdraw her desire for self-dependence and encourage the craving for God as ruler in her life. Easy? No. I am dealing with a dramatic, strong-willed, highly articulate, thinking and creative mind.
Do you see what I am up against?
My times of devotion each day now include times of sharing the Word with her prior to her departure for school. Thank God for First 5 and the testimony of Lysa Terkeurst’s daughter which was the inspiration for the morning devotions that my daughter and I read each morning. We don’t have a large amount of time to share before the bus arrives but these devotions lead to greater conversation, sometimes in frustration, and sometimes in tears. But it is necessary. We both are going through the throes of her transition into young womanhood. It is not easy.
Yet, this morning I found some encouragement as I read the words of 1 Timothy 2:15.
When I read the message to women in childbearing, my eyes immediately honed in on the word “continue” from the Kings James Version. Paul addresses the journey of a mother from her child’s birth to present day encapsulated in one verse. Several commentary authors focus on the childbearing event itself. Childbearing doesn’t stop at birth. In that child’s life, there are pains. Bearing with him or her means to endure with them during their development. I thought of fruit in my garden. As it is ripening, I am always working with the soil and the stem. I prune and I fertilize. When there is harsh weather, I relocate the growing plants if possible or I shield their development from adverse conditions. Through it all, I continue to water. Sometimes the fruit responds to my care and sometimes it does not. But each year, I still desire another garden.
That word “continue” encouraged me that my daughter’s blossomin’ may be difficult right now but my responsibility is to desire the garden and continue to water. I have been discouraged thinking she has forgotten all she has been taught because it seems as though her choices don’t reflect her teachings up until now. But the opposite is true. The fact that we are in such a struggle for her preservation means that we are in a battle for something both sides want. Heaven wants her but so does hell. And the scripture encouraged me not to despair but to be persistent in the godly instruction she has known and just love on her more. (This applies to young men too!)
We are going to be better after this season and here’s how:
ACTION ITEM: Setting aside time with your middle schooler gives her something to look forward to just the two of you together. Your spouse should also have “dates” with your child to encourage the making of special memories.
ACTION ITEM: Asking questions about his development and what he thinks about it means you are giving needed attention.
(This helps you see what he is thinking about himself to guard against self-destruction)
ACTION ITEM: Allow for times for his self-governing development such as outings with friends with understood rules, check-in times and outlined supervision. Talk about it afterward.
ACTION ITEM: Teach them how to pray and pray together often.
The last encouragement I want to give is to ask you to think of yourself as the best teacher of your growing becomer. I know we struggle to remain positive. I surely cannot say that every day is roses. Yet, for her sake, you have to stay positive.
“Beautiful Things Happen When You Distance Yourself From Negativity.”
Do you have any encouraging words for mothers of middle schoolers? Please share in the comments below. We can use all the encouragement we can get.
Offspring Grow. Nurture Success.