I recently contributed an article for my good friend and fellow blogger at crystalandcomp.com. This article can be found here. I thought the subject deserved a little more time and what follows is a few added thoughts.
All good parents of middle school children are constantly looking for new ways to connect with their child. When a child is three you can connect with them on a trip to the zoo. Who doesn’t remember that first time their child saw a lion, giraffe or elephant? The awe and majesty was overwhelming and they thought you were the best mom or dad in the world just for introducing them to this world of wonder. So how do we recapture such moments, make new memories and connect with our kids on a deeper level as adolescents?
To reconnect we must think bigger and outside of the box! What you have done the first 12 years of their life has probably been great but your child’s mind is growing and new interests are developing all the time. Your kids need new and exciting adventures. What better place to find such adventure than through their relationship with mom and dad??? And one of the best ways to do this is by tapping into interests they have already expressed. They are beginning to dream about their future and what they might do for a career when they grown into adulthood. Take this information and use it to connect!
The following are a few ideas for how you might kick things up a notch and embark upon new adventures with your middle school child:
- For the Budding Meteorologist — Set up interviews with your local television personalities. Tour the meteorology departments of a local university. Set up a time to have lunch with a meteorologist from one of your local radio stations or air traffic control towers.
- For the Budding Actress — Take in shows at your local theater. Encourage your child to audition for parts in local theater groups. Go see major musicals when they tour cities near you. Help her memorize parts, go to his plays and encourage their work.
- For the Budding Lawyer — Go to your local courthouse and watch a trial. Make an appointment to meet with a local judge for a question/answer session. Ask the judge for the names of a few lawyers you and your child might “take to lunch” and talk about life in the legal profession.
- For the Budding Doctor — Contact your general practitioner about a time to meet with him or her for a question/answer time. Travel to a nearby medical school for a tour of the campus (even at 13 your child is a prospective student!).
- For the Budding Minister — Take your child on a mission trip! Schedule a lunch with the two of you and your pastor. Find a seminary and sit in on a class (yes they will let you do this).
- For the Budding Pilot — Drive to your local municipal airport and take a flying lesson.
- For the Budding Fireman — Take a trip to your nearest firehouse. You will be amazed at how willing the firemen are to both talk about their profession as well as some “hands on” time with the equipment they use.
The list could go on and on but the key to any plan is encouragement and opportunity. As you might guess from the above list one great way to encourage your child is to seek out those already in the profession of their interest. Talk to such folks and find out new and creative ideas to further your child’s interests.
The opportunity to connect with your middle schooler is there but is often more challenging than when they were toddlers! The effort is worth the reward as your kids continue to look to you as parent, friend and help for present and future pursuits. And the process can be a lot of fun for both you and your child! I pray this post has helped you get the creative juices flowing!