Parenting Sucks: Middle School Transition

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I want to take a break from my normal question/answer format to focus on something much more important: me and my struggles. Me, plus countless other parents who are still dealing with the hell of transitioning to middle school.


School transitions of any kind suck, but of all the transitions I’ve been through, both pre-school and elementary, nothing matches the fighting power of middle school. Never before and never again will a transition be as difficult (except move-away college and as we know first hand, the birth of their first kid). That’s because middle school takes these tender young souls who still enjoy running through sprinklers and going trick or treating, and drop kicks them into a world full of acne, cursing, and underarm hair. It’s been six weeks so far and my daughter is still having a hard time.

True, by now she knows where her classes are and has figured out how to unstick her jammed locker, but the emotional battles are stronger than ever. At lunch it’s a stress-fest as the cliques start to form. Small group become larger and then split like stocks into smaller ones once again. It’s like a constant game of “musical cliques” deciding where to sit while there’s still a seat. Also, hormones must have raged this summer because the conversations of homework and playdates have evolved into those of texting and (gulp!) dating. And the worst part is I can’t help her anymore. I try to suggest ways she can deal with these new issues but all of a sudden, my ideas are “totally lame, mom”.

If you’re dealing with a school transition that hasn’t quite transitioned yet, you’re not alone. And neither are your kids, although they’re thoroughly convinced otherwise. They truly believe they’re the only ones who don’t fit in, don’t have any friends, and don’t relate to the new topics of conversation. Because of this, I suggested to my daughter that we invite her friends over, put out a platter of cookies (their version of strawberry margaritas) and get it all out in the open. Tell each other how hard middle school is and admit to struggling with these new issues. Then, as each kid confesses how lost they feel, a strong bond will form that will make them closer than ever. This newfound bond will continue at the school lunch area where the kids will sit around holding hands and singing an uplifting round of Kumbaya. Then, they’ll put flowers in eath other’s hair and hug farewell as they head to class. As usual, my idea was “totally lame, mom”. And perhaps it is. Like any parent, I want nothing more than to smooth the bumps in the road for my child.

But what I have to remember is that these bumps are all part and parcel to the lessons of middle school. They’re there to teach our kids how to overcome insecurities and fit into a world where they feel left out. And of course, how to unjam a stuck locker. So I guess there’s not much I can do except listen to her when she complains, let her figure out her own way, and always have a platter of cookies around when thing get especially tough.

Joanne Kimes is the author of the bestselling “Sucks” series as well as “The Stay-at-Home Martyr.”  Visit her at

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.