Seeking Moms of Middle Schoolers

Updated on January 31, 2015
B.R. asks from Plaistow, NH
16 answers

My question may be similar to many on this site, maybe its not a question,but rather a concern. I am a parent of a 13 year old and soon to be 8 year old. I am an overly concerned mom. I Love my kids dearly and only want the best for them. I guess in the recent years I probably over parented my 13 year old. she is very shy and has "friends" and at one point getting invited to things., but slowly diminshed, over the past couple of years, being left out of things, birthdays, sleep overs etc and it being plastered over facebook with pictures of the girls having a great time. at first I tried really hard to let it go. but then last year I just could not keep it in anymore. these "friends" that my daughter would say she hung around with or talked to in school, giving her hugs etc. I emailed her mom, which in the end I, it made things more worse off I think, she was plastering like 100 pictures of her epic daughters sleepovers etc, friends say they were going to invite my daughter and then she never get an invite, making it ten times worse. we always included everyone pool parties etc, birthdays, we don't like to leave everyone out. they would always come but never invite us/ they invite us to town parties etc.
this year was extremely hard, a friend that invited her to her birthday every year didnt invite her this year I had even spoke to the parent and she said she wasnt going to have one and then found out she did from another parents, my daughters closest friend was invited but not my daughter, this mom almost didnt invite my daughters good friend because they didnt want to get my daughter mad. I really thought this mom was different we have car pooled etc. when the hits keep coming its hard to keep things in. I know me getting involved was the wrong thing to do. I just feel for my girl. she is 13 she stays home a lot, when she is asked she will go out, but she texts and askes people but they are always busy too. she's always happy when she gets home.

she is developing that 13 year old attitude but otherwise a great, sweet kid that cares and very loyal. she plays basketball and soccer. but its really hard to watch the other girls chatting sitting together and she is sitting alone of people get up and sit with other people. I am trying to let go and let her figure it out, I sometimes let my insecurities let on too her. I want her to have a good circle to be herself around and just have fun. she loves hanging with mom and dad. this has gotten between my friend and I because as of right now her best friend is the daughter of one of my best friend and her daughter gets invited everyone. its so tough. I haven't gotten to involved now emailing the parents or anything but it is hard when i see them I am working to not expect too much from people and are very pleasant to all the parents now say hi and such but i am afraid to get overly friendly.

My daughter was so happy the other day, someone said " do you want to hang out sometime" it was because the two were alone. I really trying to stay out of things now and just let her be I ask her about her day and who she hung out with. she does have a "boyfriend" if thats what you want to call 7th grade friendship they talk all the time and she only likes to invite him over never asks for anyone else. I am really trying to back off, but its sad to see sometimes. How do you guys get through these middle school years. she's a great kid and deserves great friendships. so much more to say, but i keep rambling. i just love her so much and want the best for her. I know what you might say what about your eight year old, while she is a fire cracker and is very confident and doesn't care! lol plays with anyone. my 13 year old seems happy, but not sure if its just an outside job so mommy doesn't worry. I see her always on the outside of a group, trying to peek in. i really dont remember the cliques and such beginning before high school when I was young. any thoughts? please help me stay sane and just let these things roll off my chest!! i am trying my best to do it now, I have not confronted any parents since that one. its so hard!!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the advise. I took a step back and have handled things better since the events above, those happened earlier this year and did a refocus, I still check in with here about her day to find out if any bullying happens etc, she is just my baby and worry so much about her. I am letting her navigate her own way and sometimes say a "wow" but never let her on to it. she is happy and loves being with us. she says the same thing, like she spends all week with her peers and just wants to be home.I don't want her relationships and friendships to suffer because of me and overparenting. she is growing and I have to let go, I know just the other day she made a decision on her own with out me guiding her and I have to say I was impressed, not going with the crowd. I thought to my self "wow" nice job and I told her too, so I am pretty sure she she is going to be ok. lots of love to all of you. I love when people speak honestly and I know myself needs to step back. it sometimes takes a complete stranger to help you.

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answers from Chicago on

Try reading the book "Quiet" by Susan Cain.

Some of us are introverts. We like one on one contact, don't care at all for big groups, bypass the drama, enjoy the simple things, and find great comfort in being alone (not to be confused with loneliness).

We are VERY selective about who we want to be friends with and activities we want to join in on (please don't confuse this with being disconnected or picky).

It may not look like happiness to others on the outside, but to us introverts, it truely is.

I think if you read the book you may understand her better.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

At this age, she needs to navigate this herself. I know it's hard to watch, but let her manage things on her own. Obviously step in if things like bullying are going on, but you can't shield her from life's disappointments.

Our son is in middle school and has a small group of close friends. I was out walking our dog a couple weekends ago and spotted three of the four friends out playing soccer. Our son hadn't been invited. I was stung a bit at first, but then realized our son was happy and that's all that matters in the end. Thankfully, these boys do invite him for other activities.

There are certain kids (not his close friends) he invited to his birthday parties for years who would show up, but never invite him to theirs in return. In fact, one year our son hadn't planned on inviting them and one asked when he was getting an invite, because our son's birthday was coming up! I thought it was pretty nervy, but I let our son handle it. In the end, he decided to invite the kid, but it was his call.

Middle school is a tricky age with friendships, but it's also a good learning experience. Friendships can be tricky, even into adulthood, so it's time to step back and let her figure things out. Your job is to give her a safe place to share if/when she wants to.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I get it. We all want our kids to be happy and to have friends. I think the first step though is to stop comparing her to her friends.

My sister's eldest daughter was very popular in middle school. She eventually had almost a breakdown because she found the pressure to be too much in trying to stay in the group. No one would have guessed. She was attractive, liked by all, athletic, smart, and dating the popular guy. My sister had to take her to counselling. It's a lot of pressure sticking in groups.

I know it was when I was in middle school. I worked at it. And finally I had enough. I would rather have hung out with the kids I related to and really liked - which were not the same ones I went through elementary school with. We'd changed too much and by middle school, our personalities really emerged. I chose the quiet more thoughtful girls over the brash loud ones that I'd been best pals with for years.

I think it's an adjustment period. My son just started and he's no longer hanging out with his elementary school group. They are still friendly, but no - he wasn't invited to their parties, and he didn't invite them to his. He's not in the least bit concerned either. Quite frankly, he didn't have a lot in common with them so I wasn't disappointed. It's easier. So he hangs out with a smaller subset of that group. They just gravitated to each other and they get along really well. No upsets. Before there was almost some drama.

So this could be a good thing. It's just a phase, and support her. She will (if you support her) find girls who are suited to her. And it might change again to a new group before middle school is out.

But yes, don't be quite so involved. I gave one of my sons (the quiet one) a complex because he wasn't like his more outgoing siblings. So I inadvertently pushed him into social situations he wasn't really comfortable with. I thought it was helpful (I'm not normally a helicopter mother so this was new for me) but he quickly told me that he had developed anxiety and to back off!!

I don't like when kids' parents call me about stuff the kids should sort out. And yes, it backfires. Kids really don't respond well to the one who's parents are calling others. I've seen that time and again. So I would stop.

It will be ok. Sometimes when I get stressed over all this, I say "Ok one week without thinking about it" and it always seems more manageable after a week. Then often a solution is a bit more clear, or you realize it really was ok just as it was.

Good luck! She's lucky to have a mother who loves her so much as you do!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest that you talk with the school counselor. if she doesn't already know your daughter and her group she will observe and be able to answer your concerns.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbia on

I only made it 1/3 of the way through. Could you please hit enter and separate this into paragraphs? It's very difficult to read.

I'll come back later. My first impression is that you are WAY too involved in your daughter's girl-drama.

ETA: Thank you. That was much easier. :-)

My opinion stands. You're entirely too concerned with her friendships. I suggest that you encourage her to make friends outside of this group of mean-girls who have decided she's not cool enough to hang with. But other than that? Stay out of it. At 13 friendships will come and go. If she's lucky, she'll find a good friend that sticks around through high school. Having a ton of friends isn't important. Who wants to have so many "friends" anyhow? You end up spread too thin, and none of those friendships have any depth. Cultivating one or two great friends is far more important. But that is for her to do, not you, dear.

I would suggest that you read the book "How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk." Realize that your role is as an encourager and mentor and occasional disciplinarian. It's not to be a helecopter mom who is stalking the other moms' Facebook pages to catch them when they haven't invited your daughter over. Please, save yourself from that negativity and unfriend/unfollow them right now. And if your daughter is following/friends with these mean girls who lie to her about an invite, encourage her to do the same. "Ain't nobody got time fo dat."

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I'm a middle school counselor, so I ditto what Marda says about talking to her school counselor! She may have insight, advice, or reassurances for you.

What your daughter is experiencing in middle school sounds very, very typical to me. The early teen years are just weird! All the friendships that some kids are clinging to, are "good enough for now" friendships. They will continue to evolve. The real friendships start to develop in high school, as kids realize that common interests, relatability, and reliability are the goal. Your daughter sounds like a girl who will really start to connect with her true social group in High School through whatever niche she finds there. Will she be an art kid, a choir kid, a humanitarian kid, an honors kid? She'll find her people.

It sounds like you are getting caught up in what you think she should be doing (epic sleepovers) or what you think "everyone else" her age is doing (epic sleepovers) but I promise you not all middle school kids are living that dream. Many of them prefer not to socialize on the side because they are overdone after a week shuffling among 300 peers. Some have sports and extra-curriculars that leave very little time for idle socialization. Some prefer to stay at home and play videogames remotely with their couple friends. Some kids have one or two friends, and only want to hang with them if they are guaranteed no other extras will be there. It is not unusual for kids that age not to socialize on the weekends.

If she is happy and enjoys spending time with her family, you are very lucky. She has some outside activities going on, so that's good. I would encourage her to have some extra-curriculars outside of school, because it is always good to have contacts from other schools, and sometimes relationships can develop there as well.

And you are right, getting involved is the wrong thing to do at this age. It's time. You knew there would come a day (no one pictures themself contacting the parents of their kids college roommate when things go south) and the day is now.

She'll be okay!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Wow, I can tell you're upset because, like me, the words just keep on coming without pause! Now I know how my friends feel when I text them while upset, it's kind of overwhelmingly hard to read ;-)

Anyway, to try and answer your question...people are different. Some people are more social than others.

My oldest son (17) is quite popular in school and at the martial arts studio where he works and studies, but he doesn't care to have friends over very often. I worried, too, wondering what it could be about our home that made him not want to invite friends over, but we've talked a few times about it and he says that while he likes people, he just wants to relax when he's home, he's worn out from the days socializing.

My second son (12) goes through phases where he will go from constantly having friends over/being at friends houses to staying solitary in his room for a while. He will say things like "oh, i just got tired of always being around people and wanted to be alone for a bit," or "I just haven't hung out with so-and-so for a while so I plan on spending some time with them now."

My daughter (11) feels isolated if she hasn't had contact with someone outside the family in the past 15 minutes (lol, I might be slightly exaggerating!)

My youngest son (8) is not social at all, and had never cared for people, so we were very concerned with how he would do when he started school. His teachers say he is well liked and popular with the other kids, and he is invited to many birthday parties...but he rarely wants to go. He only really likes a few kids, and even them, he doesn't ever think of playing with, meaning if they invite him, he is happy enough to play with him, but it never occurs to him to invite them to play, even if I suggest it, he will often say, "no thanks, I'm busy reading/playing/etc."

These are just 4 people, from the same family, yet they are all so different from one another!

The main thing I have learned is to hope you've instilled the values that are important to you, and let them use those tools to guide them through the life they are most comfortable with.

I am not sure if I would be comfortable with the boyfriend being her main form of socialization outside of organized activities (at any age, but 13 seems extraordinarily young, to me,) but you didn't ask about that and it's a whole different post!

Good luck to you :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Middle school can be the WORST! I have a boy but would imagine it's much worse for girls. (boys slug it out then go eat lunch.)
We were told at orientation that this is where the pecking order is determined--middle school.
Just keep communicating, not hovering.
Encourage her to get/be involved.
Be a cheerleader & text her positive things from time to time...
It's just an awkward stage, I think.

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answers from Amarillo on

It's hard being in middle school and finding your way. Sometimes you want to be in the "in" crowd but it is not for you as much as you try.

The best thing you and your daughter can do is back off from this group.
Let her navigate the mine field and find her true friends. You have to sit on the sideline and be quiet/still. You have to watch the fall out but not help in any way. As you have seen the fall out just makes it worse.

In time she will find her way. I was one that wanted to be in the group but it was not for me. I did find a friend or two who did not click with the main group and we were fine just the way we were. We didn't have to compete with everyone else in the group to be the best for the day or the week. Sometimes it is best not to be in the in group as you can see what they are up to and back away and stay out of trouble by using your better judgment.

Mom, I promise you, it will all turn out okay. Just be a mom and not the helicopter or snowplow mom.

the other S.

PS This is a time that your daughter is learning how to deal with things on her own for the future.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You already know about backing off any contact with other kids' parents. I would just add to the advice below:

Other than school, she seems to only play her two sports and then be at home, waiting fruitlessly to be asked to "hang out." It sounds to me as if she really could use some activities that are not competitive team sports (which are fine, but the focus is on winning and the interactions are all about the game itself).

I would present it to her NOT as "you need more stuff to do to make some friends" -- that would turn her off -- but as "Here's the catalog for the local parks and recreation department, let's have a look and you can pick a class for yourself." Does she want to try something artistic? Check local arts societies for teen classes and workshops. Does she like movies? There are even filmmaking classes for teens at some rec centers and other places around us. Is she in any clubs or groups at school, based on interests, such as a drama club, ecology club that does plantings at school, anything? Let her feel she's being asked to try something purely for fun; she doesn't have to be the best at it, she only has to want to do it. And guide her toward things where she will need to work or interact with other kids her age. Girl Scouting can be great for this, in a well-run troop, and she's not too old to join a GS troop by any means; or there are other teen groups that do service projects together; or if you are religious, there are youth groups and other teen groups through churches or synagogues.....

She may meet other kids who share her interests. Common interests help form deeper friendships than those "friendships" based just on being in the same classes or carpools, or being asked to someone's parties since elementary school. Shared, interesting experiences will help her meet kids who are not into hanging out and posting their wonderful lives on Facebook -- hanging out is not what I mean by a shared experience!

A word of caution for you as the mom, though. Since you admit you have been overly involved and, it seems from the post, overly emotional about her "friends" and so on, take care that you do not push her hard into something new or get over-involved in whatever activity she might want to try. Don't be so thrilled that she joins a club that you suddenly are in there tracking everything they do, and asking her all the time if she's making friends there. Tough, I know -- we want to ensure they're happy -- but be careful not to repeat the over-involvement out of enthusiasm that she's doing something new.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I agree it is hard to understand and read. But I also hit the jist that you are way too involved and as a teen that can be quite embarrassing.

I get you want her to be popular And invited to everything. But she doesn't have to be. Accep your daughter for who she is, encourage stuff at your house maybe with some of the girls she plays sports with. She must have a couple of friends that you can make plans with? Is this what she wants or what you want? Are you projecting your own issues on her? Just asking not trying to offend. Like the first poster said all kids are different.

I have 3. - one is my own 6 and others are step kids girl 12 boy 14.
The girl is very social but rarely gets invited to things. But she cheers and after cheer she's ready to go home not into hanging out Shes tired and wants to be home. She has few close friends and occasionally they will hang out. The 14 year old has a few friends, not a ton he's unique in his own way and has difficulty with relationships. He rarely goes anywhere if he does its with one kid. Not involved in sports he's a scout and does a lot of camping and has friends from there but none I'd say he hangs out with weekly. He does a lot of FaceTime when he's home. I've encouraged him to start making plans for himself he's old enough that we don't need to this except get him there

My almost 7 year old. Is still young so hard to say. He's easy going gets along well with others and wants to be playing hanging out with his friends always. But he also grew up different he's vety involved in sports, social activities etc. As a mom I made my best to get him out of his shell/comfort zone by always doing things with other parents, kids etc. He does baseball, karate, scouts and is around a lot of differnt personalities. So I'm hoping he will have some close friends when he gets older. Right now everyone is his friend. It helped me too as I'm shy as I grew up like my step kids. The step kids unfortunately were not raised similarly when they err younger. So they do have more of a duffucitk time but I do see that one day it will be ok and they will have a few quality friends.

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answers from San Francisco on

I think if she seems happy she probably is, for the most part. If she was miserable it would show. Middle school is an emotional, tough time for most kids and families, HUGE changes happening over the course of just a few years.
I know it's hard for YOU, but please try to take your cues from your daughter. And with my own kids I found high school was actually much easier, at least with all the friend drama.
Also, stop following all these people on Facebook. You don't need to unfriend them, just hide them from your feed so you aren't constantly being made to feel like your daughter is being left out.

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answers from New York on

Honestly I stress with my 7th grade girl too but for different reasons. She had a sweet best friend all through elementary school, we are good friends with the parents, etc. But there has been such a transition of friends in middle school that she and this girl have really grown apart. My worry is for the other girl - she sounds like your daughter, is very much a homebody. They were very good for each other because the friend was very loyal and my daughter was the one to pull her out of her shell. But for as much as I talk about the situation with my daughter and remind her to think about this girl's feelings, the truth is that they just don't have a lot in common any more. My daughter is much more social and honestly her friend doesn't like doing the same things.

So while I worry in my heart about this girl, hoping she has found other friends (I know she hangs out with other girls but don't know if it goes beyond school), what it comes down to is I can't make my daughter hang out with somebody. She will tell me it's not that she doesn't like the other girl any more - just that they aren't best friends.

I would encourage your daughter to try at least one more activity beyond the basketball and soccer. Maybe the drama club or an art class? Especially if the sports teams are ones that have been the same girls for quite a few years.

Good luck, and just keep the lines of communication open. I find it so interesting to watch these girls become their own people and navigate social situations (the 7th grade "boyfriend" being one of them), but it's so very hard to watch also.

ETA: Ooh - Mel R said it MUCH better than me about finding another activity. Wonderful advice.

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answers from Los Angeles on

What Elayne J. said. Your daughter sounds like an introvert. Introverts NEED alone time after being around crowds all day. She'll figure out who her true friends are. The friends I chose to hang around in middle school were not my true friends.

My 14-yr-old extrovert son NEEDS to see his friends every day.


answers from Washington DC on

if none of her friendships work out, and all these girls are excluding her, and people are going to great lengths to avoid having her at their parties, there's a reason. and i find my own boundaries shimmering into place at the thought of a parent trying to corner me and demand why her kid wasn't included.
i'm not sure when the focus changed from 'be the sort of friend people want to have' to 'it is your inherent right to be 'included' in everything.'
i think you a) need to be much, much more careful about hovering and yes, projecting your own anxieties onto her. seriously. you seem to be caught with her in a feedback loop. b) stop having expectations that your daughter is a social butterfly. it sounds as if she's a girl who would do much better with one or two good friends and not always trying to 'peek in' at the cliques. and c) change your own attitude about your daughter and take genuine pride in her uniqueness and sweetness and help HER be more confident and happy with her own company. that very confidence creates a magnetism that attracts. if she's not projecting neediness and desperation, her own odd, eclectic and beautiful friendships will develop organically.
but she's a teenager. you really really cannot create a community for her. she's long past the age when mom should be arranging her friendships for her.


answers from Chicago on

I also have a daughter in 7th grade. Isn't it fun? I tend to over involve myself as well, and I'm working on stepping back too. What I've discovered over the years is that girls are awful creatures! They are phony, two-faced, catty little back-stabbers. My daughter is the friendliest girl and wears her heart on her sleeve. She's been hurt more times than I care to count. I used to work myself up into a mess over the social stuff.

My advice to you is the same advice I give myself: If she's happy, let her be.

I only make a few comments here and there when she wants my opinion. I don't hesitate to point out that some of the girls are phonies and two-faced. I show her the error of their ways so that she can hopefully learn from that. I only step in and contact other parents if I feel there has been a bullying issue. This usually ends up going nowhere, as I've found that other parents tend to not want to see anything negative in their children.

I guess the bottom line is that we have to let them fly, and sometimes fall. This is the only way they will learn how to be an adult.

Best wishes from one protective mama to another!

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