Listening key to helping child through middle school

  • Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear Liz,
My 13-year-old daughter is getting excluded from special things (parties and outings) with her “friends” in middle school. She is in seventh grade, a good student and a blossoming athlete. It breaks my heart, though, when what seems to matter most is what the other kids think about her. What’s a mother to do?
Dear (good) mama,
Middle school can be a crazy place because of all the hormones and social issues - let alone more demanding academics. There’s a saying I use to describe middle-schoolers: “The first day they love school, the second day they hate school and the third day they can’t find school.” It is why I became a counselor (and was a middle school guidance counselor for four years). The main reason kids asked for appointments: Problems with friends. I am so sorry she is being excluded. We can use reason and say she is better off without those girls - but that won’t fly with her. Don’t try to talk her out of her feelings - validate them. Listen to her. Invite friends to your house, and on outings. Tell her to look out for other girls being excluded and befriend them. Talk to her guidance counselor and teachers she is close with. They can provide support, and make sure bullying is not also an issue.
Dear Liz,
I am dating through Match.com, and EHarmony.com and it has been fun and quite interesting. I am 35, and two years beyond my first marriage with one child, aged 5. I have a pretty good job with future prospects - I’m fairly good looking and in good shape, can cook, even with good credit - a pretty good catch, right? My ex and I even get along pretty well parenting our daughter. Here’s the catch: I seem to scare guys away, because I become attached pretty quickly - or attract the clingy needy ones which eventually gets very old. Help.
-Dating “duh,”
Dear “dating,”
Yes, you sound like a good catch. But, there may be some missing pieces - such as you feeling secure in your “authentic self.” This can come from early trauma, issues with parenting (not blaming them, but something may have been missing in your development of healthy esteem.)
The relationship you have with your father is a key to future relationship issues with men.
I always recommend counseling after a divorce, so you can grieve, express anger and disappointment - and learn about what went wrong, from who you picked, and where you may not have been fully growth up and developed in that first relationship.
(Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com).

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