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Struggling with Middle-School Children

Posted By Center for Mediated Divorce || 14-Jun-2016

On May 18th, the Wall Street Journal released an article titled “Middle-School Years Are the Toughest Time for Moms”. According to recent research studies, mothers tend to feel the most anxious and unsure of their parenting abilities when their children are at the middle-school age. The study was conducted with feedback from over 2,200 different mothers and showed that moms with children between the ages of 11 and 14 were more likely to be fraught with depression, anxiety, stress, and self-doubt. Researchers, who believed they would find the same levels of anxiety in mothers of infants due to physical exhaustion that occurs during this stage, were surprised to find that mothers with babies or grown children are actually the happiest on the spectrum.

Why Are Middle-School Moms Suffering?

There are many believed factors that impact these results. One being that middle-school is a time of change, and not just for the child. Yes, during this time our children are experiencing a lot of physical and emotional changes, namely puberty, mood swings, and the desire for more independence. Mothers report feeling isolated and disconnected from their children during this stage of development, and part of the reason is because their children are expressing more independence or withdrawing from the family. Mothers of infants are undergoing similar levels of stress, but, unlike mothers of middle-school children, these mothers can still receive the fulfillment obtained by holding their baby in their arms. It appears as if middle-school moms are experiencing stress, but with no rewards or benefits. It is this lack of positive reinforcement that applies isolation and insecurity to their stress levels.

Another contributing factor is that middle-school mothers are emotionally more isolated. As children grow and leave their elementary schools behind for larger middle schools, so goes the time that parents could gather together and talk. Many of the friendships that mothers established with other parents begin to dwindle. Mothers no longer are able to talk about parenting with other mothers or share insecurities that they may have about their own parenting. Not only do they see their children withdrawing from them, but they have no one to confide in about their insecurities. Because of this, many mothers feel as if they are not “effectively or appropriately” reaching out to their children.

How You Can Help Yourself

The article states that the best way for a mother to help herself if she is feeling down or alone is to be proactive. Being proactive doesn’t mean pushing for more responses from your children, in fact it could mean the opposite. Being proactive, in this case, simply means engaging and searching for solutions to the problems you face.

Here are some tips on how you can be a proactive parent:

  • Find a support group: You aren’t the only parent that feels alone or that they are struggling. Find a forum or group for parents of kids the same age as your children. It may be surprising (if not a relief) to hear that many of them will share the same uncertainties and insecurities you are facing.
  • Can’t find a group? Create one: You may not have the accessibility of an already-created elementary school PTA, but you can be the one that creates a new network of parents, either at your child’s new school, at your church, or another kind of organization you participate in.
  • Adapt your parenting methods: Does it feel like your current methods are only driving your pre-teen away? Find new parenting tools and implement them. Try stepping back, giving your child the independence they are thirsting for, and let them make a couple of decisions for themselves. You may just see positive results!

For tips on parenting or help assisting your children through a divorce and more, contact the Center for Mediated Divorce. Our experienced Irvine divorce attorney has helped many parents through the difficult process of divorce.

Categories: Parenting, Stepparenting

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