To my new mom friend with a sweet sixth-grade boy,
It was so wonderful to meet you and your adorable boy the other day at the sporting event we both attended. Your son was so sweet and I loved that he let me hug him! He has the cutest freckled face and his big toothy grin creates the most darling dimples. I can tell he is kind and talkative, full of that youthful energy and unblemished happiness.
I know this is a big year with him starting middle school and it broke my heart when he said he didn’t know people could be so mean. I can only imagine what he’s seeing and hearing in the crowded halls full of so many older kids. I’m sure it’s a rude awakening, as it always is for sixth-graders just entering middle school. This is a big year for your son, I remember it well with mine. It comes with a lot of growing pains, that’s for sure.
I know your boy is on the cusp of some serious changes and I want to share with you what lies ahead on this new road of parenting you’re about to begin. It won’t be easy, but just know you are not alone. Every mom has been through the same strain and stress of those middle school years and high school to follow. Your sweet son will be forced to learn things about this world that are hard and confusing, and he will have to navigate his way through the murky and often messy tween and teen landscape. It can be an agonizing experience when our kids discover the ugly underbelly of growing up and middle school is the gateway to it all. It can be scary and overwhelming for him and for you, with all the ups and downs he’ll be going through. It won’t be all doom and gloom though, so I don’t want to alarm you. This season of your son’s growth will be filled with lots of amazing accomplishments and exciting experiences too!
During these years, your boy will explore different activities and make new friends, and through it all, he will find new interests and learn more and more about his strengths and weaknesses. Middle school is full of opportunities that will teach him how to discern what is and isn’t good for him. He might struggle with the expanding social culture that is constantly wavering and oftentimes cruel. He’ll have days where he’ll feel small and unseen and others where he might feel valued and heard as he slowly figures out where he fits in. At some point during these years, he might make some colossal mistakes and suffer the consequences requiring some tough lessons about responsibility and accountability.
With this new season also comes the process of puberty which in itself is its own strenuous journey. There will be a lot happening as your son enters his teen years that will be heart-wrenching and frustrating, but also breathtaking and fascinating. Your boy will go through drastic changes physically, emotionally, mentally, and socially. You might feel lost in this evolving world of parenting as you struggle to love your son the way he wants you to love him. Some days, you’ll feel so stressed with all the worrying you do, and other days you’ll feel so relieved that your ever-changing boy is handling that particularly hard thing well.
He’ll slowly start to mature in ways that surprise you and then do something so foolish you’ll wonder how on earth he’ll ever grow up. It sometimes seems like you’re not getting anywhere and then all of a sudden, a big positive change appears. It’s a fluctuating season of massive growth your boy will undergo where he’ll develop so many new skills, but feel the stress of it all. These important learning opportunities and lessons in his life will demand much of him. It’s a lot for your son to manage during his adolescent season. You’re in for a tumultuous ride, so hold on tight and don’t let go through all the uphill climbs and the downhill slides.
Your son will pull away from you as he gets older and this will be hard. He will offer less hugs and give you more sighs with a disgruntled roll of his eyes. Your sweet-natured boy will slowly shift into a distant teen, looking tired and indifferent in his pimpled oily skin. There will be days he will fight you on every single thing and he might even act rude and mean. Try not to take it personally, as I’m sure you will. It hurts when our kids take out their frustrations on us, but they need somewhere safe to spill it all out and you mama, are his safe person. And that’s a good thing.
You’ll wonder if that sweet boy of yours is still in there, buried under the monstrous mood swings and the isolated behavior, his dismissive grunts, and sullen nature. His hormones will be exploding at some point during this time, so the boy you know now is going to hide for a while. But mama, I promise you, that’s all perfectly normal so try not to take it too hard although I know you will. Our sons go through a long and arduous season of puberty and with it, comes a lot of painful things that honestly have nothing to do with us. Our boys just need to trek themselves through it with all the help and support we can give them.
It’s an unpredictable path you and your son have set out to travel together. But it’s an incredible season to witness your boy slowly transform and discover so many layers of who he is and what he wants to be. These are the pivotal years his foundation will be formed; his identity will develop along with his opinions about how he sees the world and his view of himself in it.
It might feel like this difficult phase is lasting forever, but there will be so many incredible moments when you’ll be proud of your son. You will watch him overcome adversity and find his inner strength and sheer tenacity through each test and trial and success and failure he faces. You’ll witness newfound wisdom emerge as he learns some hard lessons. You will have the privilege of being front and center for every detail of development he gradually goes through. And because you are with him every day of his life, you get the very best view of watching your baby mature. With every bit of your strength and every ounce of your love, your pimple-faced cranky teen will transform into a kind and decent, responsible and respectful young man. I promise you; it will happen. In time. In precious time.
But for now, hold onto these moments with your sweet boy and allow them to linger as long as they can. You’ll miss these precious young years of loving him. But as hard as it is to raise a teen, I swear they are the best years of parenting. You’ll see, mama. Just try your best to keep your sanity and your peace of mind and love your kid through it all. You both will come out on the other side of this pubescent roller-coaster ride together. You might have some dents in the car and some scrapes on your heart, but it will all be worth it. And that sweet boy you know now will be seen again, he’ll just bigger and wiser and stronger. He might tower over you and think he knows more than you do, but his hugs will be harder and your bond will be deeper, and for that, you will be so grateful to have survived these crazy hard years together.