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My Middle School Son Was Driving Me Crazy. But This Research Changed The Way I Raise Him — And How I Take Care Of Myself.

Remember the stress of middle school — figuring out which clique you fit into, not knowing which class comes next or even where the classroom is, getting home and trying to finish homework from six or seven classes, awkwardly watching your body change, and trying to avoid your embarrassing parents? No wonder I blocked it from my memory. But now that my son is in seventh grade, it’s all coming back. And I’m surprised how stressful parenting my seventh grader is. Watching him suffer through the same things I did, I’ve tried to be the best mom I can be. It hasn’t been easy to watch him rebel against me as I try my best to comfort him. I have to say raising a middle schooler has been a biggest challenge. That’s why I was relieved to read this helpful new study from the Arizona State University.

In it, ASU professor Suniya Luthar says that when your child enters middle school, “the old ways — hugs, loving words and bedtime stories — no longer work.”

ASU researchers studied 2,200 educated mothers and their children— who ranged in age from infants to adults. They looked at the mother’s well-being, parenting, and feelings toward their children and found that mothers with kids in middle school were the most stressed and depressed.

Why? They say that since mothers are often primary caregivers, they intimately experience the transitions that middle schoolers go through. The moms in the study lost saw decreased physical and cognitive function and were less satisfied with their marriages. That sounds about right. Sorry, hubby!

But ever since I read this study, I’ve been trying to follow its advice. The first thing you should remember to do is take care of yourself. Sure, comforting your child is important, but self-care is essential for moms.

I found that just taking care of myself and staying open to what my son actually needs instead of robotically comforting him like he was still in kindergarten has helped a lot.

Researchers also say that you should prepare yourself for your child’s middle school years. Read up on what other parents and children go through and listen to the best advice out there. Don’t be afraid to get ongoing support from the time your child enters middle school until graduation. You’re not alone.

Raising a middle schooler is hard, but now I feel supported and I hope you do, too!

Share this with anyone who’s a parent of a middle schooler. It doesn’t have to be so bad. Both you and your kids will get through this!

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