3 Things every 7th grade girl needs and how Taylor Swift can help
by Jamie Canter on August 25th, 2014

With a 12-year old daughter entering 7th grade, I find myself on my knees a lot, praying that God will protect and strengthen her as she enters the years of Crazy Emotions.  She and I are very close and I am thankful for all the conversations we have had that will hopefully prepare her whatever comes her way.  But I know there will still be unexpected events that will cause her heart to crack a little, friends that will disappoint and other life circumstances that will bring her down.
7th grade is one of the hardest years.  I’ve always said that if I ever homeschooled my kids, it would be for 7th grade.  There is just something about this age.  Most kids are 12 to 13 years, in-between the elementary and the high-schoolers in interests and maturity.  In seventh grade, they start athletics, girls get their cycles, boys voices start maturing and more.  There is less and less “play time” with friends; now it is hanging out.  Friendships modification, competition increases and the sweet kids that we have known and love become emotional tweens who struggle to catch their breath with these changes.
7th grade was the worst year for me.  I was friends with a girl that we will call “Jennifer.”  This was not her real name, but for security purposes (this is top-secret stuff!!), we will christen her with the most popular name when I was in middle school. (There were so many Jennifer in my classes!!)   Anyway, Jennifer and I had a discussion one day about her family being well-known in Houston.  She claimed that her family was very well-known in Houston (we lived in a suburb outside H –town).  I responded to her claims with the same response most kids would have given: “I’ve never heard of them.”  This led to a conversation in which we both held to our positions:  her position that her family was important and my position that they were not.    If this had happened in 5th grade or maybe even 6th grade, I think we would have moved on and forgotten this conversation every happened.  But because it was in the dreaded 7th grade, this disagreement led to the worst year of my whole life.
Jennifer went to our friends and told them to not be friends with me. I had only been at that middle school since 6th grade, so I didn’t have friendships that had lasted since elementary school.  So, it wasn’t hard to convince all of our friends to stop talking to me.  And they did.  And for most of 7th grade, I didn’t have many friends.    It was a hard year and I was thankful for 8th grade, when people forgot that they weren’t supposed to be friends with me and things resumed back to normal. 
At some point it is likely that your 7th grade daughter will experience an emotional shock like I endured.  It may look different, but she will have to deal with the “haters” and the “fakers” during this time, on a level she hasn’t encountered.  Instead of just disagreeing, friendships get severed and lines get drawn in the sand.  Maybe your daughter gets her heart broken by a boy or she doesn’t make the volleyball team.  Perhaps she starts to compare herself to others and finds fault with all that she sees. Whatever saddens and heart or threatens to break her spirit, there are 3 things that can get her through.

1.  Family

There is nothing better after long days at school or work than coming home to people that love you and are happy to see you.    What helped me through my tough 7th grade year was that when I got home, life went on as usual with laughter and love.  Knowing my parents loved me unconditionally helped ease the pain of conditional friendships and backstabbing girls.   Find ways to remind your daughter that she is special to you on a weekly basis:  notes in her backpack, an email or text, a small gift or even time together.  Note:  Always ask before you plan on doing lunch or breakfast together because she will care now when it occurs.  Schedule a time with her, if needed, but don’t be upset if she can’t do spontaneous like she used to.

2.  Faith

This really should be the first thing that kids need, but at this age, most of them have much stronger connections to their family than they do a personal relationship with God.  This just means when they are upset, they are more likely to come running to their parents than to stop and pray.  And that is okay.  Our job as parents is to be the hands and feet of God in their lives and to point them to him.  And this is where faith becomes so important during this year.  They need to understand that everyone is going to fail them: friends, teachers and even family.  And the only person who will never fail them is God.  You can help grow their faith by taking them to church so they see others with faith.  Disciple them by discussing struggles you are having and how your faith is helping you. Pick a bible verse to discuss at the dinner table or before bedtime.   Encourage them to find Christian music that will uplift them and get them through this time.  During my 7th grade year, I listened to Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman NON-STOP as a way to sooth my bruised heart.  There are so many great Christian artists they would love: Jamie Grace, Toby Mac, Britt Nicole, to name a few. 

3. A Way to Shake it Off

It was during 7th grade that I discovered that I loved dancing.  I would come home after school, put on some good music and dance!  Most of it was done with the door closed and no one watching, but in those moments, I felt free!  I let go and did something that soothed my soul.  And I still love to dance!  Dance while I do dishes,  dance in the car or dance as a workout, I always feel better after I let loose and dance J  I really think many of life’s struggles are easier to endure the more you dance!!   Your daughter needs some way to help shake it off.  Does she like to read, dance, play sports, watch movies, listen to music?   Support her in whatever will help her shake it off.  This may mean that you have to share with her how you shake it off.  Or even do it with her.  Download some of her music and listen to it together while you are in the car or doing chores.  Find a movie you can watch together or go practice her favorite sport with her.  Walk alongside her and teach her how to shake it off.
I love Taylor Swift’s new song, Shake It Off, because it summarizes this idea exactly! 

"But I keep cruising
Can't stop, won't stop moving
It's like I got this music
In my mind Singing, "It's gonna be alright."

Players gonna play, play, play, play, play
Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake it off.

Heartbreakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
and the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake,
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake it off."

Watch Taylor Swift's video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfWlot6h_JM&noredirect=1

Now go do a happy dance yourself that you are not in 7th grade anymore!!

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