6 Things to Watch for in the Middle School Home Stretch
Congratulations! You’re officially in the “home stretch” of middle school!
After surviving seventh grade, you might be thinking, “Praise the Lord! The end of the tunnel is in sight and middle school is almost over.” But don’t rush past this year too quickly. Eighth grade may be the very best year yet.
Something incredible happens as your kid rounds the corner from seventh to eighth grade. Uncertainty becomes confidence. “I need you” becomes, “I’ve got this.” And with a much stronger sense of self, your kid begins moving from “what is” to “what could be.”
Sure, eye rolls, huffing sounds, and slamming doors might still be some of their chosen communication tools, but don’t mistake that for how they also feel. Eighth graders are complex. They feel a lot of things. Yeah, they rolled their eyes at you—they had to show you some expression of what they think. But they also did what you asked. And they actually care pretty deeply what you think about them. That’s the tension. They still want your approval, but they also know they have to be who they were created to be. They have to become their own person. And that means a little more independence, a little more self-expression, and a little more personal choice.
Eighth graders don’t always want to talk to you, but they do desire real conversation.They may still be highly brand-conscious and spend way too long on their hair in the morning, but they also want authenticity in their relationships. They may delete a social media post if it doesn’t get the appropriate number of likes, but they’re also craving deeper connection. They’re in this incredible “middle space,” which includes self-discovery, deeper thinking, and genuine transformation. And it’s in this space that we get a glimpse of who they could be.
As your eighth grader becomes a little more comfortable in their own skin, you’ll have a front row seat to watch them hit new levels of independence and turn the corner toward adulthood. But, they still need you. They’re not ready to be totally independent just yet. So, watch as they go . . . and wait in the wings for the moments when they look to you for direction or support.
Watch as they run squealing to hug their friends they just saw yesterday.
And be the hug that’s waiting for them when they feel left out.
Watch their sense of humor grow and witness their discovery of sarcasm.
And be the first to talk it through with them when someone else’s cutting humor stings.
Watch as they take risks, try something new, or step out in faith.
And be there to motivate them to try again if they crash and burn.
Watch them expand their thinking and make their faith personal.
And be the safe place they can process their fears or doubts.
Watch them discover that they’re wired for a purpose.
And be the one to remind them what you see in them when they forget.
Watch as they’re becoming a young adult—almost overnight.
And wait for the moment when they need to crawl back into your arms for comfort.
Eighth grade has so many possibilities. So much opportunity. Yes, the end of middle school may be in sight, but avoid the temptation to fast forward this phase. It just might end up being your favorite.
– Katie Edwards
Author, Communicator, & Junior High Pastor at Saddleback Church
(also, a mom who has been through this middle school phase)