To Leave the Nest


Real Talk with my Daughters about Middle School & High School

As my daughters are becoming teenagers, there are some days when I want to lock myself in my room. They’re fighting, probably more now than ever, and although I could put the kibosh on it, I am also a sibling and I know that this is (sadly) normal. They swear to me that they don’t actually hate each other, even if it sounds like they do.

There are other moments, however, that I can tell that they still very much love and care about one another.

You see, my youngest daughter will be entering middle school in the fall and my oldest daughter will be starting high school. While they normally look to me for advice for such transitions, I have to remind them that their young lives are drastically different than mine.

So one night, over dinner, I asked my oldest daughter what advice she would give to her younger sister upon entering middle school. Here are some tidbits – mostly paraphrased.

No-Nonsense Middle School Advice


“Your friends now? You have lots of guys that are your friends? Watch out for them in middle school. They’ll change. Some of them will be…. weird. Some will want sex. Some will just act differently. They may not be your friends anymore. You’ll make other friends that are cool, though.”


“Oh the drama. Stay out of the drama as much as you can.”

(Mom’s Note: On her first day of middle school, I told her, “Whatever you do, keep your nose clean”. She’s mostly followed that advice.)

“Also, look out for your friends or acquaintances who may get into drugs or something else. Some may try to hurt themselves. You might keep some friends but some may fall away.”


“Scary but true, you will know who is selling drugs, who is doing drugs… Just avoid. Avoid!”

(Mom’s Note: Um… great advice.)


“Some girls and boys will already be having sex in middle school. I don’t know what they’re thinking! They’re entirely too young and stupid. Also? Some girls will send naked photos of themselves or allow themselves to be filmed doing sex stuff. I don’t get it… but it happens. Oh and sadly, that stuff will come back to haunt them later.”

(Mom’s Note: *sigh*)

Dating & Relationships

“12, 13, 14 years old is entirely too young for a serious relationship. I see a lot of attention-seeking and a lot of boys who make fun of or laugh at girls who do it. Those same boys will take advantage of it, talk about it or share it on social media. Going to a dance is one thing. ‘Dating’ can be enjoying each other’s company, talking and texting more, holding hands, maybe enjoying a first kiss…but the other stuff? No way. We’re all too young.”

School & Homework

“It’ll be fun that you’ll get to pick some electives you’ll enjoy. But you don’t have recess anymore. And get ready for more homework.”

High School Advice

Then my oldest daughter looked to me for advice for high school. It’s just…. so different than my high school days. Besides the fact that her high school years will be broken in half – two years at one campus and then her final two years at another campus. When freshmen and seniors are not at the same school, well… that’s way different than my high school memories (and admitted crushes on seniors!).

A friend shared this post with me – 51 Things I Wish I Knew in High School – which I will be sharing with both girls. It offered great advice such as…

  • Your innocence is beautiful.
  • Get to know people before you judge them.
  • Sex does not make you an adult.
  • Spend time with your grandparents.
  • Stop sharing everything on social media.
  • Don’t pretend to be something you’re not to impress people.
  • Don’t let one mistake define you but learn from it instead.

And one really good piece of advice – High school years are not the best years of your life.

Except… for some people, they are.  When my daughter asked me for advice as she begins high school, that is what I told her.

When you’re in high school, you are actually working towards starting your life. High school is not the be-all, end-all. If you’re not popular in high school, it’s okay. If you feel jealous of the relationship they have or envious of the most beautiful girl or that guy who is driving a brand new car when you have a hand-me-down, know that those feelings are normal.

Remember that for some people, their high school years are the best years of their life. For some people, life will take a wrong turn after that. Things will happen that they aren’t prepared for and they may not recover from them. Some may not even live to see to their first high school reunion.

So let them have “most popular” or “homecoming queen” or the latest fashions or new cars or whatever – hey it might even be you that some people are envious of – but know that Life Keeps Going After High School so prepare for that instead.

Do your best in high school. Make friends. Keep learning, inside and outside of the classroom. Then go into your life and make it the best you can.

Maybe you’ll get lucky and reconnect with high school classmates later, like I did, and find that you were all thrown curve balls but you survived them. And it’s the surviving them that makes you friends for life.

Categories:   family, parenthood, random musings