My daughter is starting middle school and is having a great time. I, on the other hand, am feeling a loss of control. Her world is bigger and I am in need of a couple of coping skills on how to let go. It’s a big change for me. Help! Asked by Patricia – Salisbury, MD
Just like the toddler years, thinking in baby steps is helpful at this time as well. Moving to Junior High is a huge jump, but if you can focus on things one at a time, it will be helpful. Junior High is the age we get our kids cellular phones, for instance, but we still keep a tab on how many text messages they can send to make sure they don’t overdo it. I’ll let my 7th grader go to the mall with his friends, but I stay there, reading a book at the book store so I can stay in contact and check in every once in a while. These are not just steps for your daughter, but for you! This way, you can let her explore the world a bit more while you see how much she can handle. No doubt, you’ve raised a wonderful young woman whom deserves your trust. Amy C – 40 something
Middle school is a big step. It sounds like you have done a fantastic job of preparing her so that she is able to take the leap with confidence. Now it’s time to focus on you.
Can you identify what you miss about the previous years? Were you involved in elementary school in a different way? Was your time with her different? What has changed that you miss?
Once you identify what you miss, see if you can see a way to replace it with something that is just as nurturing for you. If you used to drive her to school and now she takes the bus, do you miss those talks in the car? Can you find another way to make those times happen?
If you were involved with volunteering at the school, and you enjoyed that camaraderie, can you find another way to participate either at her middle school or in another venue?
You’ve done the hard work of preparing your child – now you it is time to support yourself. Your daughter is lucky to call you “mom.” Jamee – 40 something
Each time your child grows more independent it is not only a time of growth and change for them, but for us as parents also. Remember that their job as a child is to move beyond us.
Remind yourself that you wouldn’t want it to have it be the other way-that they never grow up. But the time of letting go is very hard for us as moms. I suggest you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Remember that you have been teaching her for 12 years right from wrong and now it is time for her to test the waters by herself a bit. She still needs you-but just not as often.
Then-do something special for yourself. Sign up for a class or fire back up a hobby you haven’t had a chance to focus on. Get a part-time job. Or if you are already doing all of these things-just sit down and write yourself a long letter.
You’ll want to read it again when she goes to high school and then to college! Ann – 50 something
Be rest assured your feelings are entirely normal, and have been felt by mothers since time began. The sense of loss is the same whether a daughter is simply advancing to another grade, a son is going off to war, or a marriage is in the offing. These are all a part of life’s natural transitions and if our children are experiencing them in a healthy way, then we have done our job as a parent. In spite of our longing for them to regard us as their main focal point, their world will continually expand and they will outgrow their emotional and physical needs of both us and the protection we give them. Now it is your turn to expand your world, for to fail to do so will cause you to micromanage your daughter’s life, and leave you stuck in the ruts of predictability and lack of challenge and direction. If you do not learn to gradually let her go, she will do it for you as she matures. Your coping skills are simply to act as the adult you are, explore your own interests and talents, and actually take constructive action to use them in your daily life. Intentions and “thinking about” won’t wash here. Do it, for your daughter as much as for yourself! Marge – 70 something