Connecticut Families Extra: Moms of middle schoolers

Connecticut Families

(WTNH)– Middle school is tough for kids and new research shows that it may be even tougher for their moms.

An Arizona State University professor tracked moms’ well-being through the development stages of their kids from infancy to college. She focused on moms, not dads, because moms are usually the primary caregiver.

Jen Clausing’s daughter, Jadyn, starts middle school in the fall. She can’t forget how she felt when Jadyn’s sister, Macy started there three years ago.

“It was like all of a sudden, she you know, looked older, was acting older, and all of a sudden had the bigger responsibilities all within, seriously, two weeks. And I remember just feeling completely overwhelmed,” said Clausing.

“There was one stage where everyone peaked, the bad things, and the stress, and that was middle school,” said Suniya Luthar, PhD Psychology Professor, Arizona State University.

Professor Suniya Luthar measured moms’ adjustment during their kid’s middle school years. They scored lower for life satisfaction and higher for stress, emptiness, guilt, and child negative behaviors than moms with kids of other ages. Luthar says moms are unprepared for all the changes.

“Suddenly, this child morphs into this weird person who looks at you with distance and sometimes even dislike and scorn. That’s awfully hard,” said Luthar.

Luthar says moms need more support from family, friends, and support groups during and before the middle school years.

“Imagine what your kids need from you. That is what you need from other people, and that needs to be in place and that needs to be respected, prioritized, and sustained,” said Luthar.

Jen was in one of Luthar’s authentic connections online support groups and feels the pieces will fit together better the second time around.

Luthar says husbands and partners can offer good support, but moms need a “sister network” as well. Her authentic connections program is 12-weeks of one-hour sessions. She runs the sessions either on video or sometimes in person. The website for more information is authenticconnectionsgroups.org.

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