Once again, the summer has flown by and it’s already time for #Back2School.
Is your daughter ready?
That’s the question you may be asking yourself especially if she’s entering one of the, what I consider, critical transition years of 6th grade, 9th grade or college freshman.
Critical because there are so many potential pitfalls that your daughter will have to navigate (i.e. dating, friendships, peer pressure, etc.)
Will she choose wisely?
The answer to that has a lot to do with how prepared she is.
That’s where you can make the difference Mom. And I’m here to help with my 2018 #Back2School blog post series–The Transitional Years.
In this first post, I’ll share three conversations you must have if your daughter is a 6th grader to help her successfully navigate middle school.
The Price of Puberty
Remember what it was like to go through puberty?
Imagine going through it during the Age of Smartphones, Social Media, and Selfies when image is EVERYTHING.
I can’t tell you how many 8th grade girls have told me that their struggles with low self-esteem began in middle school.
Think about it.
If your daughter is attending a traditional middle school, this will be her first time surrounded by older, make-up wearing, more fully-developed and experienced girls.
And the price of puberty becomes costly if she compares herself to them and ultimately feels like she doesn’t measure up.
So be sure to help your daughter identify ALL of the qualities/characteristics that make her stand out.
And encourage her to put more time and attention into her interests rather than her image.
Whoa Mama, the Drama!
The middle school years for girls can be ripe with drama.
And truth be told, that drama often comes from inside their inner circle.
So, while you’re worried about your daughter getting caught up in unhealthy romantic relationships, pay equal attention to the quality of her non-romantic friendships.
Because in middle school these so-called “friendships” can become very toxic.
In fact, in doing research for this post, one of my readers just shared the following with me about her daughter’s “friends” at her middle school:
“When I tell you I could not stand her friends… I COULD NOT STAND HER FRIENDS…always angry about something,
always bullying someone, always being inappropriate. We pulled her from that school so she can have a
do-over at another one in the fall. And this time, we’re confident that she’ll be able to take the tools she learned from last year,
find her voice, be clear about her boundaries and develop true, healthy friendships.”
Hopefully, this Mom’s transparent account of her daughter’s toxic “friendships” in middle school will serve as a rallying cry to talk to your daughter about choosing her friends wisely.
Some things you can do?
- Point out the differences between a friend and an associate,
- Talk about the qualities and characteristics of a TRUE friend,
- Share your experiences with “mean girl” behavior from girls and/or women you thought were friends, and how you handled it,
- Practice role-playing different scenarios that might come up while your daughter’s in middle school so she’ll be able to recognize the red flags.
The Time to “Talk” is NOW
If you haven’t started talking to your daughter about sex, now’s the perfect time!
The last thing you want is for your daughter to receive misinformation about sex from misguided middle schoolers.
Not sure where to begin? I have two great resources for you:
- A FREE ebook, 7 Things Every Parent of a Teen Needs to Know Before Having “The Talk.”
- The DVD, The Sex Talk Every Parent of a Teen Needs to Have.
Both are designed to help parents like you start having ongoing, open and honest communication about sex with your kids, minus a lot of the awkwardness.
And I strongly suggest that as you have “The Talk” with your daughter, that you include pornography and sexting into the conversation.
Why? Because the average age of exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
Because I’ve had two distraught moms reach out to me when they discovered their daughters accidentally happened upon porn online and continued to watch it. One was 11 the other was 8.
And because of letters I receive from girls like this,
“With the aspect of people getting addicted to porn, I am one of them. It started when I was 10. I was just curious on what it was so I looked it up. When I did, I saw what the women were doing on the video and copied it. And now I watch it so much that it’s getting harder and harder to hide what I’m doing from my parents.”
We can’t continue to keep our heads buried in the sand about pornography OR sexting.
Sixth and 7th-grade teachers often tell me how they’ve caught students sexting.
Once again, low self-esteem is the culprit.
Many girls are desperately seeking attention and sadly believe sexting is the way to get it.
And mom, it’s not a matter of IF, but WHEN your daughter will be exposed to both pornography and sexting.
So, what can you say or do to prepare and protect your daughter?
- Tell her that it will likely “pop up” accidentally at some point, but don’t linger on the site when it does.
- Let her know she should tell you when it happens and know that she won’t be in trouble.
- Install filters to protect her as much as possible.
- Inform her that it’s illegal and she needs to report it if she receives inappropriate pictures from anyone.
- Remind her that if she sends a picture, she cannot get it back and the picture may never go away.
- Encourage her not to succumb to pressure to fit in and do what the other kids are doing.
*I also believe it’s wise to shield your daughter from having older friends or hanging with the older kids.
The Bottom Line?
You and I both want the same thing—your daughter to have a happy, healthy, successful school year free of regrets.
If she’s a 6th grader, start NOW having these conversations with her to help her navigate the middle school years.
And hopefully, this will lead to many more open and honest dialogues between the two of you this year.
Even if your daughter is not entering middle school, the above advice can still apply.
See you next week!
P.S. My book, 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You is another great resource that will help your daughter successfully navigate “The Transitional Years” through young adulthood. Go here to grab her a copy today!