Thursday, August 30, 2007

Book Report – not much just chillin’ the hidden lives of middle schoolers

I’m setting in my office while my daughter (Lindsey 11 yrs old) is playing with 3 of her school friends out in the youth area. She loves having friends over and the talk is always interesting to me. Reading through Linda Perlstein’s book, “not much just chillin'” has given me an insight of how my daughter’s relationships (and my boys in years to come) will morph into something different than they are right now.
At the very end of the book there is a Q&A time with the author that I found very interesting. One of the questions asked was, “Is there one main thing you want people to take away from Not Much Just Chillin’? and Linda says, middle schoolers do, “get it!” and I totally believe that.
As I look through my notes in the book I realized I have highlighted more in it than any other book I’ve read. I have so much I would like to share but I will put in down to two key thoughts.
Middle school kids get it but not totally when it comes to sexuality. In Linda Perlstein’s chapter “it’s not you it’s me” there was a big WOW moment for me as she shared what she heard and seen concerning the kids and their understanding of sexuality. The sex talk is all over the place though most if not all of them are not involved with a sexual relationship, yet. Here is one interaction she shares, “Jackie approaches the table with her lunch tray. Kevin has stolen her chair, so she wallops him on the head with a carton of milk. ‘You got three boobs,’ he responds, and reaches toward one of them.” “O my!” and there were other interaction like that that stunned me. This reinforces to me that we must share a clear Biblical perspective of sex to our kids now.

The other key thought was about parents. “Parents influence … more than any other source” in a middle school kids life. Parents need to hear over and over again that they are the number one influencer. Here is a great thought from the book, “He (dad) can accept that she isn’t totally grown up yet, which affects not just her sometimes babyish television choices but her ability to stay sane in the face of the small annoyances that seem so huge. All the while, he can’t be insulted about what she doesn’t share; he needs to realize that his attempts to help just increase her anxiety, and what may seem like absence of action is doing something after all.” A parent needs to be a parent and that will be the most effective and loving thing that can do for their young teen. Parents need to “decided when to hold her close and when to let her solve her own problems” and parents know how to do that for their kids the best.

Middle school kids are the most challenging but greatest group of people on the earth to work with (for me). Anyone who says this needs to read this book and let it impact their lives and the way they work with middle school kids. The principle at Linda’s school she was at said, “You never know who you’re getting through to, That’s middle schoolers for you.” I love it.

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