I’ve dreaded the middle school days forever. Probably since the moment my first son was born.
Because I hated middle school. Hated every single second of it.
It didn’t help that I moved twice and went to three different middle schools on opposite sides of the country during those three years from 6-8th grades, but even if I’d stayed put in one school, it probably wouldn’t have been any different.
Middle school is rough.
It’s been that way since the invention of junior high.
So, I’ve dreaded it for my son.
But he hasn’t. He’s looked forward to it for some time—excited about the prospect of a new school where he’s a “big kid,” (albeit on the bottom of the totem pole again), where he’s proving that he’s growing up and can handle a little more responsibility.
But can he?
Hormones, attitudes, smart mouth, dropping the ball on things he knows he’s supposed to do—it’s happened, just as I suspected it would. My boy is becoming a man, and it’s awkward. It’s hard.
And we’ve reacted to each event in turn, doling out the appropriate punishments or reminders or rewards.
I walked into his bedroom the other day to find his bed unmade, clothes covering his floor…lack of responsibility glaring at me everywhere.
I felt the burn of anger and frustration starting to build in that middle spot in my chest.
“How many times have I told him?” I asked aloud to his room. I answered myself. About a zillion. A zillion times I’ve said, “make your bed,” or “put your dirty clothes in the hamper,” or “please pick up your karate gear.”
A zillion times.
I glanced up to his window which overlooks our street, and also, by blessing, his middle school. It’s close enough for him to walk each day, close enough that I can look outside and see the windows to his classrooms.
And as I beheld at those windows, grumbling to myself, the Holy Spirit whispered softly.
I sighed and moved to pick up his clothes and make his bed.
Not because he deserved my help for ignoring what I’d asked him to do. Not because he’d been an angel lately or because I’m a slave to what needs to be done.
No. Because grace. Because sometimes our sons and daughters need a little less nagging and a little more grace.
Because as hard as it is on us for them to go through these awkward middle school years, it’s hard on them, too.
Because when I think back on my experience in those years, I don’t remember all the lectures and groundings and punishments for the bad choices I made. I’m sure they helped to change and mold me, but I don’t recall them vividly.
What I do recall are the moments of grace my parents showed me. Times when I’d come home to a perfectly made bed. Or folded laundry. Or a surprise small gift. Or the time when I was having a particularly rough go of it with some “friends” and my mom let me stay home from school for a day just because.
Grace is a gift from God. We praise him for it. And so we should look for ways to gift it to our middle school children who so desperately need both grace and guidance to get through these difficult years and discover just exactly who God wants them to be.
Discipline. Guidance. Grace.
They need it and so do we.
Share with me: What’s the best way you show grace to your middle schooler or can you remember a time your parents showed you grace during those years?