The Wonderfully Horrible Adventure of Mothering Middle Schoolers

For years I’ve complained that my son never tells me anything. “How was school?” I’d ask every day and he’d give one of his two standard answers: “Good” or “Fine.” My daughter is answering all of my need-to-know questions before I even think to ask. Since the beginning of middle school, I’ve heard, “Mommy, what’s a whore?” and “This girl in my class was crying because someone wrote that she was, excuse my language, a ***king **tch on the bathroom door.” I guess I should have been thankful that after her story about the bathroom door she had to ask what ***king was, but that kind of led back to her first question which I answered by saying, “It’s not a nice thing to call someone and I don’t ever want to hear you use that word.”

Holy mother of God, where is the middle ground? I guess the middle ground is middle school—the boggy, find-yourself years between elementary school and high school. My son, God love him, shielded me from this kind of horror, which has only made it more horrifying to have to face it daily from my daughter. Was he protecting me or protecting himself by not asking?  Or maybe he just didn’t notice. Whatever the case, I’m left wondering who answered these questions for him and how I’m supposed to answer these questions for her.

Our society is so focused on sex I have a hard time watching television—and I grew up in front of the TV. When I was a kid, the eight o’clock television hour was reserved for family shows like Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley. Remember the family friendly lineup on Friday night: TGIF? Now, here’s just a random sampling of a few of the family hour shows this fall: How I Met Your Mother (all about sex), Dancing with the Stars (have you seen those costumes?) Glee (don’t even get me started) Charlie’s Angles (need I say more?) and something called The Vampire Diaries (please). Is it any wonder I’m freaking out?

I should be thankful that my kids are very active in sports so they don’t have much time to watch television anyway, but thanks to cable and On Demand, they don’t have to worry about missing their favorite shows because with the click of a button, they can watch the entire series when they do have time. If I ban television completely, they will crave it like a crack addict and I’ll have shot myself in the foot.

If it sounds like I’m blaming television for the normal questions that arise during middle school, I’m not—not really. What television is doing is undermining the message I’m trying to send my kids: that sex is a personal choice between two adults in a loving and committed relationship.

Is it just me getting older and thinking that things were so much easier in the good old days? Have I really turned into my mother? What do you think? Do I need a sympathy hug or a good old slap in the face? Go ahead and tell me, I can take it.

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About Christy Hayes

A wife, a mother and a writer of romantic women's fiction. I love dogs, exercise and cable news.

Posted on October 17, 2011, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Christy, as the grandmother of twins (boy/girl) who entered high school last month, I raised two (boy/girl) GenX kids through Madonna and the beginnings of MTV videos. You need a hug and a reminder … outside influences are not the foundation they will need to build a good life. Their rock solid foundation is you. It might get harder or you might feel more frightened as the HS and college years begin to turn your hair to silver. Through it all if you remain consistent, they will always revert back to your values … xoxo 🙂

  2. Christy, we are turning into our mothers! My eighth grader son is also not a talker about school stuff (can’t make him quit talking about Mac computers,though) and honestly alot of it I think he doesn’t even notice. 2nd grade daughter, however, whole ‘nother story!!!

    When I start freaking out and thinking that the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I take comfort in the fact that adults have been thinking it’s the end of civilization for centuries. Granted, they didn’t have tv or youtube to grease the sides of the handbasket, but you know what I mean.

  3. I’d like to say it gets better, but… I think the key is just to be available for your kids to provide a buffer or sounding board for everything they hear or see and to provide a sense of “reality”. Unfortunately, you can’t be there shielding them every moment, but if you’re consistent in you’re own behavior with them–and toward others–they’ll come out the other side with their values in tact. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for in my house. 🙂 And don’t get me started on song lyrics!

  4. Oh, Christy, I feel your pain. Our kids perhaps are the same age range? My son’s 17 and daughter is 12. Her favorite show is Sixteen and Pregnant (AACK) and his is Southpark – don’t get ME started on that crappy show! Anyway, there’s kind of no way to turn it off, so to speak, but as Florence said above, we are the ones who give our kids the foundation they work with and I’m a good parent and can tell you are as well. All of our generations had to deal with issues. I was a 60’s/70’s hippie with the drugs and free love and stuff, right? Well, I didn’t do hard drugs and I didn’t sleep with anyone. I came from a family with solid Catholic values and examples. The things I took away with me out of my generation were: everyone is equal, women can do whatever a man can do, etc. I’m glad I was born in that era. These days kids are bombarded with the techno stuff, but I’m benefitting from that as well. I text, I have an iPhone, an iPod, etc. So, I guess I’m just saying that it’s different, but not…
    Patti

  5. Every generation has its challenges which usually shock and enlighten the previous generation. Yet as parents, we want to shield our precious children from the ugliness and bad things in life. But there’s really no way to do this because we can’t keep them under our protective wing 24/7.

    So to stay sane, while we guide our children without seeming to, we must keep faith that they are absorbing our values and wisdom. Only when they become young adults do we see the true people they will become and for the most part, I believe children grow into a more modernized version of their parents.

    Of course, they will deny this with every breath in their body but in the end, we all succumb to our upbringing and/or genes. 🙂

  6. Your experience is the reason my children (one middle school daughter and younger son) attend a small Montessori school. It’s kinda like homeschooling–only someone else is doing the instructing!

    While every generation busts through their own set of limits and restrictions, I do think at some point we can go too far. While our society is changing as a whole (only takes a gander through the television guide to clue one in to the general themes of today’s culture), at what point do we say enough is enough?

    I’m sensing it’s when society breaks down into mobs and chaos, when it becomes impossible to co-exist in peace.

    Yes, we can only guide our children toward the healthiest choices, encourage them to be respectful of others and the like, but what do you do when your neighbor isn’t doing the same?

    • Diane, you are SO right. In my son’s case, none of his friends have curfews, they can spend the night over here and their parents have never met me, they don’t EVER go home for dinner because they’re either here or with my son out and about playing basketball. So the “neighbors”, if you will, do not have the same rules as I do. My son gets very mad about this but I’ve been telling him for about three years now that I don’t give a hoot WHAT his friends’ parents do, these are the rules for him because I love him and care too much about him to do otherwise. He wants to live the life of a 25-year-old and he’s 17 and still so naive and immature, I am amazed. But as my sister keeps telling me – stick to your guns Patti – and I am.
      Patti

      • Stick to your rules Patti! I can you tell kids actually appreciate them. I always say to my kids to use me as a the scapegoat; make me the meanie. I don’t care. I advise them to tell their friends we drug test at our house if it gives my kids a good excuse to just say no. Sadly, my husband isn’t above drug testing or putting a camera in the car. 🙂 A little fear is good, right?

      • Your sister is right, Patti! How nice that you have a sister to lean on for advice and guidance!

    • I agree with you, Diane. It is hard when we feel like the only sane ones on the block, but our kids need to learn early that the rules for them are the ones they need to follow no matter what anybody else’s rules are.

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