As a new school year begins, parents may find themselves a bit more stressed than usual while balancing their own demanding schedules, their kids’ schoolwork and extra-curricular activities, and their children’s emotional needs.
A 2016 study that has recently resurfaced shows that the middle school years can be particularly challenging. The survey spoke with 2,200 moms and found that moms of middle-schoolers were doing the worst, while moms of adult children and infants were doing the best.
The research further shows that moms to middle-schoolers reported “extreme levels of stress and loneliness in their lives,” according to CNN when it first reported on the study in 2016.
Suniya Luthar, Ph.D., an ASU psychology professor, mother of two, and one of the study’s co-authors said at the time, “If ever there were truth to the saying, ‘It takes a village,’ it’s now. It’s not it takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to raise a preteen.”
Author Cynthia Tobias, who co-wrote Middle School: The Inside Story, told CNN that some of the findings can be attributed to the fact that pre-teens often change their experience attitude changes seemingly “overnight.”
“You hear a lot of times, [parents will] say, ‘It’s like I woke up with an alien this morning. Yesterday I had a child who loved to snuggle. Today I have a kid who can’t even stand to be around me,’” Tobias said.
Tobias went on to say that it’s important to continue to communicate with your child, letting them know that you’ll be there for them no matter what, even when they mess up. It’s also important to not be hyper-critical of their shortcomings during this time.
“The parents have this tendency to just [say], ‘Fine. You don’t want to talk. Just don’t talk,’ and walk away,” Tobias added. “But the kids themselves, they told us over and over, ‘We do want to keep a relationship with our parents. There’s so much going on we just can’t do it. We hope that they don’t walk away.’”
Moms of middle-schoolers: We feel for you! We hope you find that strength to make it through these difficult preteen years and to not walk away.
When I’m not hanging out with my three-year-old and husband in Brooklyn, I’m busy writing stories for Mamas Uncut and managing PR + Marketing for Magnolia Bakery, based in New York City. On weekends, you can usually find me at a local park or playground pushing my daughter on the swings, “researching” the best almond croissants in Park Slope or launching into impromptu family dance parties at home, the sidewalk or, every once in awhile, a restaurant bathroom. I’m still trying to master the whole parenting thing, but I have learned that copious amounts of coffee, humor and humility are involved on a daily basis.