Middle school drama, a labyrinth of adolescent emotions, friendships, and occasional heartaches. Recently, my daughter, Ziana Eliz, confronted a challenging situation with two newfound friends, a reminder that navigating the complexities of middle school social dynamics requires a delicate touch as a parent.
One of her new besties has been jokingly pushing her around, and then saying things like “She’s my friend, not yours!” Why is that funny or cute, I have no idea, but middle schoolers find the dumbest things amusing. Last week, the playful antics turned harsh, resulting in Ziana’s phone crashing to the ground. All three friends left her scrambling to look for her friend.
Z comes to the car and I already knew by the look on her face something was wrong. She closes the door and tears come falling down. I was told the whole story. Then she tells me she sent them a text to never reply to her on the group chat and that they were… “dead to her.” One of my famous lines. I had to explain to her that she shouldn’t have done that and to never react on emotion. Take some time out to think about what it is you’re feeling, figure out what to say and speak to me first because mommy has plenty of wisdom to share!
As a mom, it’s heartbreaking to witness your child face the harsh realities of friendships. From the early years, I’ve instilled in Ziana the harsh truth – people will be nasty. They’ll find any reason to make you feel bad about yourself because, deep down, they’re struggling with their own insecurities. They will make fun of your hair, eyes, teeth, clothes, notebook, laugh, they’ll say you smell, and so on. All that so they can bring you to their pile of sh!t level.
Despite the negativity surrounding her, she remains unfazed. It’s not that she doesn’t stand up for herself – she does, with admirable courage. There was another girl in middle school who was consistently making fun of her, pushing things out of her way. Ziana didn’t back down; she stood her ground, responding with clever remarks. Guess what happened? The girl saw she wasn’t bringing Z down and, the taunting stopped, now they even talk. Middle school drama, right?
The journey of parenting through these challenges involves encouraging open communication. Something I never had at home. Ziana, like her brother, talk to me about everything. Well, he’s a different story because what he likes to hide from me is candy and sneaking onto the school laptop during school (different story for a different post).
I’ve emphasized from the beginning that our home is a safe space, free from judgment but filled with wisdom. Yes, we love to make fun of one another, tell “Yo Mama” jokes and tease one another, but all in good fun. If it starts hurting someone’s feelings that’s when we stop and COMMUNICATE what made them upset.
As parents, we can’t always shield our children from the turbulence of growing up, but we can empower them with the tools to navigate it. Resilience, communication, and the unwavering support of a non-judgmental space at home are key ingredients to helping our kids thrive amidst the storms of adolescence. So far, I’m not too fond of it…
In the end, it’s not about avoiding the challenges but learning to dance in the rain. Because, as Ziana’s journey shows, sometimes standing your ground can turn the storm into a conversation, and a potential friend out of a foe.
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