Lately, I’ve been feeling like I want to be more popular in
school. I’ve been hanging around with some of the more popular
kids. My mother doesn’t like them and won’t let me see
them outside of school. She says they get into trouble and I could
get in trouble by hanging out with them. I know some of the things
they do are wrong but I don’t do those things.
Mark was always an A student and now he’s bringing home D’s.
I’ve also noticed a change in Mark’s behavior and it
really worries me. I know adolescence is a difficult time for kids
but I want him to try his best and care about school again. He has
been rude to me and mean to his younger brother. I know he started
hanging around some kids that get into serious trouble in school.
Mark seems different and he won’t talk to me.
Mark, you sound torn between the best choices for you and wanting
to fit in at school. This is understandable at your age. Remember
a true friend accepts you and likes you for who you are. It’s
very temping in middle school to be more popular. Seventh grade
“friends” will come and go but you will have to live
with the consequences of your choices.
It’s better to have one or two real friends who will be loyal
to you over time than it is for the whole class to think you’re
“cool” for a few days or weeks. Consider talking to
your mom and telling her what’s bothering you. Chances are,
she’ll be more understanding than you think.
Cathy, It’s more important than ever to have open and honest
communication with Mark. You are smart to be aware of the company
your son is keeping. I share your concerns.
Believe it or not, parents (and home life) remain the biggest influence
in our children’s lives, even during adolescence. Be an active
listener when communicating with Mark. Reflect on his feelings of
wanting to be accepted by his peers, even by the troublemakers.
Keep in mind that kids who make poor choices and seek acceptance
through negative influences are those who feel misunderstood and
rejected at home. This has to do with the child’s perception
and not necessarily the reality. In other words, try to connect
with Mark while providing guidance, love and support. Remind him
of right and wrong and your expectations of him. Let him know, he
can always come to you even if he makes a mistake.
Hajjar Diamond has been a guidance counselor for twelve
years. She is also a freelance writer and mother of two.