Hey mom of a middle school boy, can we talk, mom-to-mom?

I need you to check in with your son to see how he’s treating his classmates.

You see, I’m the mom of the kid getting picked on. He comes home from school and regularly tells me about the kids shouting names at him in the hallway and teasing him at lunch.

Honestly, I don’t mean to vilify your son. I’m sure he’s a good kid. I’m guessing he’s just trying to look cool, trying to impress his friends, or just trying out being mean. Middle school is a new environment with more autonomy and less adult supervision. Fitting in feels like it matters more than it ever has-I totally get it.

I explained this to my son-that your son isn’t simply “bad”. We are complex beings and we’re all more than a label. I explained that your son might be acting in a certain way to impress other kids. He might even be wearing clothes he doesn’t really like, because that’s what other kids are wearing. I explained to him that your son might be hanging out with kids he doesn’t particularly like just because he think those kids are “cool”. I explained to him that your son might be silent while others make fun of him because he doesn’t want to seem uncool—or, even worse, he might take part in the bullying in an effort to be liked and accepted.

You know what? My son was shocked. It wouldn’t occur to him for one second to wear clothes he didn’t like or hang out with people he didn’t like just to “fit in”. He doesn’t care how people perceive him and would never change who he is for other people. He honestly couldn’t believe it and he’s even developed a little empathy for your son. Yes, you read that right—he’s developing empathy for your son, the one who calls him names in the hallway.

But still, my son does not deserve to be treated this way. My heart breaks for his a little bit every time he comes home and reveals another incident. I know you can relate to this. I know your mama heart has been broken, too, when other kids have been unkind to your child.

So please, middle school mom, check in with your son. Ask him these questions:

Do you see other kids getting teased at school?
Do you stand silent or, even worse, join in?
Do your friends pick on other kids?
Is it worth being popular if you have to be mean?
Do you act in ways that make you uncomfortable in order to fit in with the crowd?
What might happen if you stood up for a child getting teased?
How would you feel if you were the one being teased?

Moms, I know we want the same thing: for our kids to be happy at school, to be kind to others, and to be treated kindly. These kids are in middle school—11, 12, and 13 years old. We all know how fast it all goes. Eighteen will be here before we know it. The lessons they are learning now will shape the men they will become. We don’t have much time left, moms. Lets encourage our sons to be kind, respectful, strong, and confident so they can grow into the men we want them to be.

Honestly, my son will be fine. He’s a smart, funny, handsome kid with tons of confidence and a great group a friends. This will be a blip for him. But this can be an opportunity for all of us moms to really start thinking about what kind of men we want our sons to be.

My son will learn forgiveness from this period of his life. What will your son learn?

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When He’s 13

When He’s 15

When Your Little Boys Aren’t Little Anymore, This is What You Can Look Forward To

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Anne Metz

Anne Metz works part time as a freelance writer and spends the other part getting kids off the bus, breaking up fights, doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning up after her son and triplet daughters. For fun she enjoys whistling loudly and just slightly off key and eating meals that other people prepare for her. She is passionate about sharing her struggles with mothering to let other moms know they aren't alone in this journey. You can find more of her work on her blog: www.onceuponamom.net