Okay, so I’ll admit it. When my daughter started junior high, I barely knew WTF I was doing. But now that Zoey’s in the 8th grade and she’s 2/3 of the way through, after making thousands of mistakes, I can officially say I’ve learned a few things. So here goes. Here are a bunch of things I wish I knew when Zoey started this journey through hell, uhhh, I mean junior high.
- If you are up worrying about your daughter in the middle of the night, just know that 9 out of 10 other moms are doing exactly the same thing. You might not be worrying about the same issue, but you are literally NEVER the only one worrying.
- If you’ve raised a NICE kid, that is awesome. The world thanks you!!!! But now you might need to teach her to advocate for herself a little more. Giving up her seat to someone else in the cafeteria is SUPER nice. And she’ll end up sitting alone.
- You can’t keep her off social media forever, so you need to teach her how to handle it. No matter how popular she is, she WILL see other kids hanging out without her. No matter how self-confident she is, she WILL see plenty of videos that tell her she needs to change something about herself. And no matter how long you keep her off social media, eventually she WILL join. Are there good things about it? A few. Are there bad things? A few thousand.
- Keep telling your daughter she is gorgeous. Over and over and over again. At an age where lots of things are changing on her body (or not changing fast enough), she might need to hear it A LOT to believe it. And don’t point out her “flaws.” There are plenty of other people who will do that, so your job is to do the complete opposite.
- If you can find a very honest friend who has a daughter who is older than yours, they will be your best source of advice and information. Even the ways they’ve F’ed up will be helpful for you to know.
- Teach your girl to look out for other girls, but teach her the FIRST girl she needs to look out for is herself. Junior High=The Hunger Games. Your daughter=Katniss. A slight exaggeration, but things do get a little more cutthroat.
- If you over-engineer your kid’s social life, she will probably have a lot of plans. She will also have something else. A bunch of friends she didn’t pick herself and an inability to handle her own social life as she gets older. “Hi Nancy, I was just wondering whether Michael would like to go to the prom with my daughter Annabelle?” See what I mean?
- There will be shitty kids in almost every group. Your kid doesn’t have to be best friends with the shitty kids, but she can’t avoid them completely. Teach her to navigate the shitty kids, not avoid them.
- Your daughter will probably start spending a lot of time in her room. This is normal. Don’t expect her to come out as much. Which is why you need to go in. No matter how much she protests, no matter how messy it is, go in, sit down, hang out for a few minutes once in a while. And make her come down for dinner. Forcing her to spend 15 minutes with you is not mean. It’s love.
- Junior high is like social media. Even if it looks like everyone else is coasting though having a great time, they are not. Almost everyone is struggling with some problem you can’t see. This won’t help your problems get better, but sometimes it’s nice to know you’re not alone.
- There will be bumps along the way. Some will be tiny speed bumps, and some will be massive mountains. And even though all you want is for your daughter to tell you she’s good and everything is hunky dory, really what you want is for her to confide in you. If your daughter says she’s struggling, as much as it sucks, this means she’s coming to you about her problems. And that’s a good thing.
- If you are up worrying about your daughter in the middle of the night, just know that 9 out of 10 other moms are doing exactly the same thing. You might not be worrying about the same issue, but you are literally NEVER the only one worrying. And yes, I meant to put this one twice.
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