Braving Middle School Like a Boss
All right let's get to class. Okay thank you. Hey charlie. What's that book. You've got there. This is my bible. I don't think you're allowed to have that here actually mr kylie he can. It's totally legal. Bring your bible to school. Day is coming up thursday october third learn more by visiting. Bring your bible dot org. That's bring your bible dot o._r._g. Bring it sherry lift. Finding trusted faith-building entertainment for your kids is easy with the adventures in odyssey club. It's an online community with almost every episode ever and focus the family clubhouse magazine subscription a._o. Club dot org slash radio. I'm getting ready to start middle school and i'm worried that i won't have have any friends. When i first started school. I was nervous but excited at the same time. I'm also worried about getting around because a much bigger your school was worried about being bullied or walker not opening in gym class and a little worried about the classes and how they'll be hard on me. This has helped the incoming sixth graders. I'm excited about being an incoming sixth grader because i feel more grown up well. Middle school is a time of transition. I think i heard the word worry in there at least seven or eight times. There's a lot to worry about <hes> when you move from elementary school to middle school to junior high in we're going to ease some of those fears today on focus on the family. Your host is focused president and author through jim daly and i'm john fuller john. I can remember when trenton troy started middle school. I think it's all that apprehension you know. They don't really have enough confidence yet. They're trying to figure you're out what they're good at what they're strong at doing and there's a lot of doubt and that's certainly true on the boy side. I remember i mean some older kid. Kinda kinda hit me in the chest and a p._e. Class because he was defining for a friend of his how well built he was kinney. I tracked my my sternum and then he said oh. I'm sorry i didn't know you couldn't take a light punch which made all the words yeah but that is that's kinda middle school. That's what happens. I mean guys boys always trying to figure out the pecking order who's who and who's good athlete and all that stuff and it's rare for a young man not to go through some kind of torture there but it's it's great to hear what many schools are doing like in that clip. We heard where older kids are mentoring the younger kids yeah. We didn't have a lot of that no no it. It didn't happen that way right and today. We want to give you some tools to help you. Guide your child and you as a parent through these transition shen phases like from elementary school to junior high school and you may be going through that right now and we have some wonderful guests. The catherine's jonathan kathrein who has two sons read and coal reading coal are both middle school survivors so that's a good thing and they have lots of great insights to share with us they do and they've they've written. A book called the manual to middle school the do this not that survival guide for guys and we're so glad to have them here. It really is an insightful book. Jonathan's been here before and it must be fun to have his boys with him. Welcome to focus walking back. Thank you thank you. It's great to be back yeah. That's fun. This is kind of unique. You know having a dad with us to <hes> almost adult sons right. You guys are on that pathway now. How old are you. I'm fifteen eighteen eighteen okay. We'll talk about that later but welcome in it is a good thing. How did you decide to bundle all this this advice into one book for young people young men particularly who are about to enter middle school or who are in the throes of middle school. Whose idea was it so you remember when i was here last time we're talking about the manual demanded and i had written that book for my sons right shortly after returning back home and contemplating. What's our next project. These two guys were sitting at the dining table over dinner. Talking about middle school because coal was just leaving. Elementary school headed into middle school and reed was just leading middle school headed into high school so over. A couple of dinners was likely what should i do. What should i do advice was flying. I looked at each at the guys and i go adding. We've got another book here. Guys yeah right no kidding so read. Let me ask you in that transition especially into medical school if you can reach back that many years now what were those sir those feelings those emotions that you had read. It's all good on so going into middle school so i think it was kind of stressful stressful. It was like what am i going to do. I'd been in elementary school. How many since kindergarten fifth grade so that's about six years that that was where my homeless that's what i was comfortable with going into a sixth grade and into middle school. It was like it's a much bigger school. There's way more kids there. I don't know what i'm going to do. I'm worried that i'm gonna mess up or them. Not gonna make any friends. Friends will sure and so fear is one thing you don't the unknown. How 'bout you call. I luckily had to read to help me watching at that session blake okay. What do i do like it there so you were observing your older brother. Yeah parents don't always get that. We don't know if you're watching to watch. I was freaking out and what was causing you. Strain or anxiety lockers were scary. You get to put yourself in a box that was like behind metal door. They can't always open. That's just freaky yeah and then you had to remember a combination which you thought you'd never remember exact. I can remember that also just the canada for the guys particularly that pecking order would i alluded to in the opening is true isn't it. I mean it's maybe unspoken but you're trying to figure out who who's who. What group do you fit in <hes>. Did you have some of that anxiety exile as well yeah i think so because i had a friend <hes> i think he was in some great at the time but he was talking to me about how like like guys are gonna find out who they are and like kind of like mess around with you. If if you know what happened to yeah exactly yeah they think that you're weaker your smaller or you're a little bit different than the kind of like you know exactly. I mean that's not it. Sometimes it's very serious so i don't wanna make too much light of that but there there is something about the male orientation that you know you. Just you testing each other. You're trying to figure out who's the guy he was nice to me and he kind of like helped me through that. He was like oh yeah. I'll make sure not messes with you yeah. Well you know johnson being the parent. Let's go to that part. Wise an important for parents even pay attention. This is kind of the stuff that normally happens. Do we really have to be that engaged because kids are kids and they're going to learn the ropes well. These are some really critical formative years both four how are thinking and how other acting and going through middle school. I think a lot of it is a whole bunch of experimenting on. Does this work and should i repeat it does not work and how do i never do this again so as a apparent to give our kids the kind of advice that we believe is going to work but we can't force him. It's kind of like you can direct you can't steer for them and so what kind of direction action can we give our children as they make that big transition between elementary school middle school to set them up for the best potential success now. They're going to have to give it to go but if they don't know no often today they'll pull back and just not even engage right so i'm going to give them the best advice i can and share with them in any way i know how without forcing rushing down their throats so that it's their experience not my told them to experience yeah i think they every parent needs to go through the sharing gene versus forcing their kids and i think the you've got to build that relationship so it's not just happening at the middle school transition i mean in other words the happening sitting in the conversation you've got to build as a parent you got to build that trust and that open dialogue and how did that work for you three. Let's really unveil it here. Did you guys have a good did kind of communication line with an open with our family. It doesn't really matter. There's no huge walls between us. Don't you think that's the ground floor. You gotta able to communicate what happens. In a family where there is a lack of that communication. There's a distrust between the parent and the kid and there's not the ability to like talk about all your feelings to apparent which is always knock good for the cup and like that can build up and that can crumble relationships in a matter of time so oh. I'm sure you've had friends that fit that description. You guys talk about it at that level. When you're sixth seventh grade eighth grade you guys. Did you remember any conversation behind closed doors doors but then once we're once like i i realized that once i went into high school that's where we started to become comfortable talking about family life and like what's actually going interesting the truth ruth not just like brushing it over like oh yeah everything's fine. This happened but it's okay but you're right. This is what's going on now. That's good <hes> <hes> let me go to the faith component because that plays an important role obviously the role in christian homes and i guess the right questions what role does does faith play in preparing for middle school. How does a parent make sure that their kid is grounded. How many moms let me speak to the moms listening. We're are fearful fearful of that moment especially when their son and we're addressing sons today but you can apply these things to daughters obviously but when their sons are making that transition transition. I'm sure a lot of moms allow right so let's go back and look at faith. Context faith means. You've got to believe in something that isn't necessarily always seen seen in and it can't always be proven think about this. If you are consistent in your faith in your family through elementary school and then you get into middle school with your kids and they hit hit that thirteen year old age. Let's just call it what it is. It's cray cray. Thirteen is the craziest age ever thinking. What did i do wrong because now everything i've shown them seems to be thrown out the window or in my face or or i can't do anything right as a parent and don't take a personal but to be faithful through the time the message you shared a growing up to this time the message you're gonna share as they move through those on those chaotic ages of life though the middle school and high school time so the context of faith love the lord your god love your family be consistent. I think that's the biggest thing don't try to then do a mass of course change because you now have a toll thirteen fourteen fourteen year old. You've got just simply be faithful through your processes work to his point continue to raise a child up on the way they should go when they're old all they will not depart from it. Noticing that scripture doesn't say in the middle it says when they're old if you were to add to that which we're not going to raise a child up when they're middle school go crazy and then they'll come back around but the reality is this is a tough time so the faith component in the family is consistency. Yeah i like that and <hes> that's probably the best way approach faith. Is that consistency so your kids see it right and they may not always follow it. I guess is my point. I mean your boys. These are doing well. It seems and there are families where there's going to be struggle and john <hes> you know you home. Schooled your kids so that's a whole different environment but when and you're young people are in public school you're being exposed to a lot of things that maybe your faith contradicts what about that component with friends and what were some of the the drama aspects of your junior high years one thing we saw as a parent observe our boys and their friends as they begin to find their voice and guys guys you can now speak to this has one thing that we expect in our family is that you can say anything. You need to do it respectfully and agree or not agree with you. We'll still hear you out. There's nothing you can do to make me love you any less right and i think that plays into the component of faith to parents because that's the way lord has relationship with us think about how many times we've disappointed disappointed god yet. He loves us. No less fact i'd have to believe every day there's more they're considering grace and forgiveness and as a parent we're supposed to be modelling and now these guys take that message and go to school in their friends are all finding their voice but there's not always that respect factor there. I think we've had a few coversations about that. I think like it's not like one particular drum. It can just be like spread throughout middle school pretty much theme of like if you don't do something that somebody wants or if you were. We're doing something different but used to be friends. They're going to kind of poke and prod at you if you aren't exactly the way that they thought you were. They want you to be sure i mean that's got to be some pressure. The social media is big pressure as well so i mean. How do you manage that <hes> with your friend groups. Luckily middle school instagram was already. Are you start out but it wasn't like yeah. I wasn't allowed to have a little bit later on to <hes> middle school yeah. How about you on the other hand what was going on a little more <hes> impact with social committee i mean i didn't really care about social media that much until i got older i mean what about your friend group and junior high did they were they already diving diving in all my friends had social media like snapchat was a big thing. Everybody can get that for much after everybody else did so. I was kind of behind on the crew to right yeah. One of the things that i remember seeing the book is that you had a group that you called the squad yeah. Oh yeah that was pretty important to you. Yeah i liked the front in group and then after a while everybody just split off and form though i mean what's the genesis of that so it was just a bunch of people with similar mueller likings and then i met one person from the squad and then i kinda got like grouped in and then it just grew from there started out with like five people grew to like almost sixteen and yeah just went from there and then in the end of like eighth grade through eighth grade to kind of split off because everybody had different classes and that's a tribe that you get to be a part of particularly important as you enter middle school jonathan. How much intention -ality did you and your wife apply. I to the friend development side. These are the pillow talks parents have about you. Do you know do you know the friend read has. Aren't you worried about him. I mean have you noticed what he says doc over at our house okay so here's something eric and i did when the boys were still in elementary school. We started telling them things is that we knew would stick and one day would would they'd have to contemplate one of the phrases we say as be more influential than you are easily influenced and i would believe the best compliment apparent here would say will you have your child spend more time with my son my daughter because your child be a good influence on them. I've never quite understood. I don't want you hanging out with little tommy over here because he's a bad influence. Sorry buddies names. Tommy want you hanging out with that kid because he's a bad influence. Basically i've just told my sons that other child that other middle schooler is more influential on you then. You're on yourself and more influence on you than we can be so i gave them. The power be more influential than you are easily influenced that means you can be friends with anybody right. I like possibly influence them for the positive. You did that work out for you guys. Did you apply that. When did that light come on that okay. I get what dads they raise us. Those sayings at just helped us find people who were like who were kind of close to what we liked like. I like theater and middle school so i found people like that but but i also wasn't afraid of like oh are they into something different or something. That's a little bit sketchy. Now i can influence them more than they will. Influence me. I won't do anything that i would not want my parents to not see that. I wouldn't want my parents to not hear me. Do i would want to do what i'm trying to say. Is i would do anything with my friends that i would do with my family. You know i wouldn't want to do with your family watching a good axiom and that's a good rule of thumb to follow. Did you always follow lewitt daddy. You know it's just sometimes those difficult spots in junior junior high what typically young people lack confidence to be that influencers so jonathan as a father. How how could you even even in addition to what you said. Which is one thing half the time and i don't know about you boys but half the time you're not even sure your sixth grade or seventh graders actually listening you know they're doing something else and you think they're hearing you but i'm on behalf of many parents that are having these discussions with them. Sometimes it sounds like like a lecture and they can turn off rather than a dialogue zeph fair. Call that's fair. You're reacting to that okay. Sometimes it's like i'm in a bad mood or something. I don't don't wanna listen to what he has to say but it's usually important but it's just kind of going in one year and out the other and that's why he kinda after a pita. Sometimes it gets annoying. It's still in there somehow and then you you remember that and it's let me ask you this question. How is young people and you know fresh off of the junior high experience fifteen. Let's not long ago now. What would you say in coaching parents. How can we do a better job communicating. I think that you got to communicate to your your child into your middle schooler through love and understanding and like understand where they are talk to them. Ask them instead of saying go. Do your homework or go. Read your book you. How can i help you. You know what's what's giving some troubles. Do you need help with that. You know that's good advice and this is focus on the family with jim daly. I'm i'm john fuller and our guest. Today are the katherine men we have read coal and jonathan catherine. They wrote the book the manual middle school the do this not that survival. I will guide for guys. There's a lot of great stuff in here and we're going to encourage you to get this. We're going to bundle it with the c._d. For you to review and maybe listen listen to with your kid and the website is focused on the family dot com slash broadcast and our number is eight hundred the letter in the word family. You know in the book. I i think it's you call. There's an incident where you did some damage to the garage door or was there any damage to the garage. The damage to the house garage door explained the garage door problem and what that taught you so for context. I was yes i ended bowen arrows shooting the narrow <hes> don't know what got into me thought that it would be interesting to see what it would be like to like pull back with the opposite hand and does it work well with doesn't work well and you shouldn't try it with an arrow in the i don't even know living shot off went into the garage and i is like i'm going to die like my friends are gonna luckily they didn't but what happened was they. Were doing a renovation on their bathroom. So my smart self i went to the bathroom got some of the wall putting drywall putty spackling put it onto holders and textured it but some dirt on to make london with the garage door or you know and then you know it was good for a couple of weeks and then we were driving into the driveway. My dad was like is that a boat on the front or front door <hes> it's like. I don't know what that is. No there's something on the garage door and we went up and checked and of course it was bumped from the exit yeah exactly so then what happened so okay so instead of yelling or instead of getting mad at me i mean i guess he was like why didn't you tell me weeks ago uh-huh but after that he taught me how to fix the problem and we together yeah so it worked out so dad's ah driving up and seeing the garage door with this dimple on the outside. I knew immediately what had happened and we asked. Does anybody know what happened to the garage door. And of course nobody could remember so. This is what i appreciate about. The boys is i could see in their faces. They both knew but they weren't ready to tell me. I didn't know i read shows up shortly thereafter. I have to confess. I shot an arrow. Uh store and i could see the fear in his eyes and this is where you go. Okay yes discipline right and so it's time to be disciplined. Now we believe if you are either self disciplined or somebody else has to discipline you either way. You need to be disciplined and so i said well you need to be disciplined and the discipline and this is you need need to fix a garage door the way the garage door needs to be fixed and i will show you how and we'll discuss from there. What follows and i was thinking okay. It's going to depend on his attitude now does he. He you know go off the deep end and tell me something. I'm so bad for making a fix garage door. He dove right in that garage door. Got the full treatment. It looks great. I mean he had multiple layers of paint on the whole thing it was. He did a great job so we learned a really good lesson. Now jim a moment ago you asked about confidence in his middle school school a boys' in middle school competence important it absolutely is important but how do we get confidence right. I believe competence follows capabilities so if we can teach these these young men capabilities. They know they're able that means. Their confidence level increases so using i i don't care karaj doors. I mean i do my house but he is more important than a garage door and i know he's already learned a lesson about firing a narrow through the house into the garage but it's the so what can we do with this. Now i teach him something to make him more confident through a capability which would be in this case repairing the garage door and also maintain our relationship lasting. I wanna do is fixed. <unk> break our relationship. Let me on that serious subject that we you know handle the little light-heartedly the bullying issue because boys can be really hard on each other especially at the junior high age which is what we're talking about. Did you ever encounter that. How did you deal with it. Maybe jonathan from your perspective is dad. How did you even inquire about whether or not it was occurring so let's start with the guys here. Did you ever experience it. I had a couple of people who are mean to me. Me bows like more of trying to pick at me to see how far they could go. Tigana like really mad and i'd like patience enough to not care but there were some kids kids that just really got on my nerves and i would yell back at them like not anything bad. I would just get mad and be like shut up. Shut up be quiet and nothing really past that but some were just picking you to get on your nerves so that they could be better than us. Somehow right that's true. I mean it's a tough time alive for me. It was more name name-calling and just like you know just dumb names and so i think my experience with that and my memory of that is just that love and trying to see what's going on in their lives is more powerful than heat and trying to break down somebody else's life and so i've it actually made a few friends yeah not naming names but you know somebody was picking on me. I talked to them so i was going on and and found out that like you know they weren't having a great time in their life at that point and we became friends and we were this day off on and then also just the people people we may not be friends but you know some other people i've just talked to them and it stopped because just communication and simple acts of kind of that really jumped out at me is that you suggest even being kind to the bully engage that person disarm them and that seems counterintuitive of to most of us especially at that age but it sounds like it really worked out yeah jonathan. How did you use a dad. Stay in touch with reading coal and i tried to do that. The reason i'm asking the question is that i'm intentional about with troy. I'll ask them especially during the junior high years is everything okay. Is anybody picking on you. Anybody bowling you and and their response was typically. You know that doesn't happen at our school right. It's happening. You may not be seeing it but they never really came back with any experiences of being bullied except one one where my older son was in junior high and you know there was a bully on the playground and he came after trent and trump basically pinned him down on you just said stop bugging people and transfer big kids so i mean anything. That was the end of that. I think that there's all kinds of ways to handle it. The one thing thing that that we approached our blazes there they are givers they give to people who are in need and when they would have a need to talk to a friend or message with the friend or see a friend because that friend is being bullied that both the boys have experiences where they're giving care and comfort to somebody else to me. That was then the opportunity okay. Yes go help your friend or talk to your message with your friend that opened the door. How about you is everything going okay with you and then they would share if something was wrong or if everything was okay and i think that because they are confident young men they are they are less likely to be bullied than others and this is the hard part for many parents to hear because they're sitting in their own channel my house. Maybe not as confident as that. That's a stage help them work through the stage of building their confidence so they become less less of a target and become the giver of comfort others yeah well. This has been great and it's a good start and i really wanna encourage parents particularly dads with their sons to engage and jonathan and the boys have written a wonderful book manual to middle school the do this not that survival guide for guys and and <hes> like you said a hundred aspects of how to help your young and get more confidence is just an example of that so if you're in that spot maybe your grandparents and you have that fifth sixth grader grandson who needs a boost. This might be a nice little gift to give to your adult son to say hey. This is a good tool to use in your fathering. That's the kind of thing we want to be able to provide for you. So get a copy. We can provide that for you right here. Focus on the family in fact factors make a gift of any amount and we'll send a copy of the book as our way of saying thank you and you can get in touch donate and get the book and cd that we're bundling it with when when you call eight hundred the letter a. and the word family or look in the episode notes for further details at john. Let me also mention <hes> one of the things to help your young a young person in building. Their faith is something we do every year here focus on the family. It's called. Bring your bible to school day and this year. It's going to be october third and it's real simple people you can go to our website to get more information but we're hoping almost seven hundred fifty thousand a million young people will participate by bringing their bible to school cool to kind of exercise their freedom of religion and <hes> we've gotten some powerful testimonies back of house opened up dialogue in public schools. We have have now hit thirty five percent of public schools. I'm excited as superb participation rate and we do hope that you will step up and help your child be an influence as as we heard from jonathan help your child influence others with the simple act of taking their bible to school. It's legal. It's not confrontational. It's very positive love and a really can't open so great doors. You can find out more about bring your bible to school day. That's october third at the website as we said get the book and cd as well well and you can find those details in the episodes be sure to join us again tomorrow. John or per will challenge you to think differently about your salvation in christ christ to understand that jesus corn message is not primarily about something that will just happen when you die. It's about something right here right now on behalf of gym daily and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today four focus on the family. I'm john fuller inviting you back as we once again help. You and your family thrive in christ nice.