We moved to a new town this summer, so the first day of school for my 4 sons this year was a different kind of one. They went from knowing everyone in school to just a handful. To say that I was nervous about this transition is an understatement! I was as nervous as can be! It’s not easy being the new kids, especially when you’re tweens (actually – almost teens!). I will say, the first week of school went well. Really, really well. Better than I could’ve expected. My 2 oldest guys are now officially in middle school (7th and 6th grades) and my youngest 2 (5th and 4th grades) will be there soon enough! As kids get older, so do the different kinds of worries and concerns. Gone are the days of worrying about them sleeping through the night! Oh, no… now it’s hoping they will make smart choices on their own and make some really good friends.
I’ve learned a few lessons this year from the first week of middle school that have impacted me well. Funny enough, I attended the same exact middle school my kids go to, so for me… it’s very personal and very familiar. I’ve become very in-tuned over the last 3 weeks to my tweens and soaking in all the conversation because I want to and truthfully, I feel like I need to – just so I know what’s going on.
1. I’ve learned that when you’re in middle school you really start to crave independence. You want to go off and do things with your friends and feel be a “big kid.” Tough part is that you’re not exactly “big” in middle school, but you’re older and letting more and more is something that parents seem to do.
2. I’ve learned that the friends you start to really make and create connections with in middle school are (most likely) the same kinds of friends you’ll have throughout high school, too. I’ve seen many groups of kids throughout my life go on from middle school to high school together. I really love that my kids have seemed to pick a great group of kids right now that I hope they continue to be really good friends with throughout.
3. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter where you live, kids will go through the tough phases of teenage hood and pressures that they do anywhere.
4. I’ve learned NOW more than ever that OPEN communication with my kids is critical and essential. It’s something that needs to be fostered and maintained.
One thing that I plan to do is keep talking about underage drinking. I remember when I was in middle school there were rumblings of parties where there was alcohol. I never went to them, but I remember hearing about them. It’s something that I know happens, but something that I am adamant about talking to my kids about and explaining the dangers of it. I want to have this conversation now about preventing underage drinking not later — when the conversation at that point may very well be one of intervention.
To make it even easier for parents like me, Responsibility.org created the Ask, Listen, Learn program for tweens (ages 10-13) as a way to start a conversation about why a healthy lifestyle is important, and why that healthy lifestyle doesn’t include drinking underage. I really want my kids to be prepared for this topic to come up with their friends and I don’t want them to feel pressured about it. Starting that conversation with them is something that I’ve been doing on my own for over a year now. What I’ve learned is that conversations about alcohol can happen any time with kids, tweens in particular, and it’s best to be prepared because these types of hard questions don’t often come with a warning or a schedule.
As parents, I love knowing that I can depend and rely on the Ask, Listen, Learn site as a resource to help empower with advice and tips on how to handle hard questions. Ask, Listen, Learn has resources for parents to talk with their kids about why drinking underage can have long-term and short-term consequences on a developing brain and body. I feel like with my kids in particular this is something that they will tangible understand. Ask Listen Learn also has fun videos and games that may make breaking the ice a little easier.
Middle school is truly the time to start and keep these conversations going. This is the age when kids start to understand and ask the hard questions. I’m ready for them and will continue to be, my hope is that YOU will be, too! As parents we need to make sure we are having these ongoing conversations with our kids about being confident decision makers, about keeping good friends that really encourage positive decisions about saying NO to alcohol.
Please join me in these conversations with our tweens and teens!
For more information about Responsibility.org’s program, head here ——> Ask, Listen, Learn
Disclosure: This is a sponsored partnership. All opinions are 100% my own.