As much as I hate to admit it as I type these words, my daughter recently started middle school. While she is definitely ready to be challenged academically, I am a bit nervous for the road that she has ahead. I wanted to take some time to reflect and provide advice to my middle school daughter. Just like many of you, there are so many things that I would like to tell my younger self. I wish that someone had taken the time to share these words of wisdom with me prior to starting my journey to adulthood.
Being a middle school teacher and obviously a middle schooler myself, I know firsthand how challenging these next couple of years are going to be. Today, there is more pressure on kids academically and then you throw social media and bullying into the mix. Needless to say, I am a bit panicked just thinking about it. However, my daughter has a strong head on her shoulders. With the right support and the advice below, I am confident that she will rock the middle school years.
Never Stop Being You
So many kids succumb to peer pressure during the middle school years. They change who they are for the sake of fitting in. I want my daughter to know that no one can dull her sparkle. We still keep in contact with her kindergarten teacher. To this day, she refers to my daughter as the “girl who is full of spunk and passion”. I don’t want middle school to change that. That “spunk” can be a challenge sometimes, but I don’t want anyone or anything to take that away from her.
It is so tough being female in general. One of the reasons why I started this blog was to help other women, especially working moms, feel good about the decisions they have made and become the best version of themselves. I want the same for my daughter and any other middle school girl out there. Do not change who you are for the sake of impressing someone else, especially a boy. It is so not worth it!
Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Your Passion
My daughter is passionate about topics that are not seen as “cool”. She really enjoys technology and coding and has a love for history. When she was in second grade, she had to dress up as a character in history. She chose Betsy Ross. Rather than just dressing up, like the other kids did, my daughter decided to write a five-page report. She spent recess one day educating the other kids on all that she had learned! Even then, my daughter could not understand why the other kids were not as excited to learn about Betsy Ross as much as she was.
As my daughter is getting older, I am noticing that she is starting to shy away from her curious mind. She is starting to focus more on pop culture and the YouTube generation. While I am okay with this to some degree, I want to make sure she stays true to who she is. If she is curious about something, I want her to embrace that curiosity and know that there is no limit to what she can become. Afterall, she was the only girl on the robotic team and she definitely showed those boy what she’s got!
Be Proud of Your Intelligence
Intelligence is a gift that many do not have and I want my daughter to be proud of the fact that she is smart. While I think it is important to stay humble, I also want her to be proud of the special gift that she has. You do know that children get their intelligence from their mother, right? I know she is going to come across kids that are going to try to convince her that it is not cool to be the smart one. You and I both know being smart will always pay off. It just may take some time for her to see that. Think back to the smartest kids in your class and what they are doing today. Smart should be cool at every age!
Girls Are Mean – Don’t Be One of Them
Girls are going to be mean and no matter how mama bear I get, there is nothing that I can do about that. My daughter has been dealing with “mean girls” since she has been in first grade. While I did my best to handle the situation, there is only so much I have control over. I want my daughter to know that know matter how much she wants to be part of the “in crowd” there is no room for mean girls in your life. Move on and find a friend who values you for you. At the end of the day, it does not matter how many friends you have. Friendships are important, but it is almost better to just have a few really good friends.
I also want my daughter to know that she does not have to be a mean girl in order to fit in. There is no room for gossip and disrespect. Stay humble and kind and true friendships will develop naturally.
Know That You Are Always Loved
There are going to be days that middle school is going to flat-out suck! I was an average kid with a large circle of friends and I remember how challenging it was for me. We did not have cell phones and social media and we were not faced with all the pressures that kids are faced with today. Regardless, middle school was definitely the most challenging years for me. I did not have a support system at home, which made those years even more difficult.
Regardless of what takes place at school, I want my daughter to know that she is loved at home. She is beautiful and precious. I want her to know that her father and I will do everything within our power to ensure that she knows how amazing she is, regardless of the pressure she faces at school
Kids, especially girls, are forced to grow up way too fast these days. I want my daughter to know that even though her body is changing, she is still a kid. Enjoy being a kid and have fun. There will be a time in which you will need to buckle down and be serious, but now is not that time. Laugh with your girlfriends. Join a new club. Play a new sport. Take on a new hobby. All too quickly, you will have a career, a mortgage and a family to support. Enjoy being a kid because after all you still are one for another 7 years!