• Judy Cohen

Advice for My Rising Middle Schooler…

Updated: Apr 27

Dear Jack,

Today you graduated 5th grade, Elementary School, or as it’s now called, Lower School. I realize it may not have the same status as graduating high school or college, as so many of my friends are celebrating this year (clearly, my friends are much older than me!), but nonetheless, it’s still a huge milestone you should be super proud of reaching. And as your mom and biggest cheerleader, I’m incredibly proud, and experiencing complete overwhelm in this moment.

Things sure have changed since I was a school girl. For starters, my Elementary School went through the 6th grade and the only thing we did on the last day was run through the halls singing “Schools Out” – Alice Cooper’s end-of-school anthem that still makes me smile and always reminds me of summer.

But the world is different today… a sentiment shared by parents everywhere as they pass the torch from generation to generation.

As I watched you walk across the stage this morning, shaking hands with your teachers and faculty, I felt both moments of pure excitement, and sheer terror. My excitement was for all the opportunities, memories and experiences you’re going to have as you enter Middle School. My terror was solely based on my ability to shield you and help guide you through the turbulence you have no idea is going to happen. And you better strap in because it’s going to be bumpy ride – or maybe that’s just for me.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can help you without it seeming like I’m helping you. I get it – moms aren’t that cool anymore and can be a bit annoying. Believe it or not, I was your age once, albeit a “few” years back. So, I thought I’d give you my best “cool Mom” Middle School advice and you can take it, or you can leave it. But – if I were you, I’d take it since I’ve been in your shoes before.

My Best Advice

1. Friendships – unlike your family and relatives, you can pick your friends. Choose wisely and understand you don’t have to be friends with everyone, and not everyone is going to be your bestie.

2. Crushes & Heartbreak – this will be a rollercoaster ride for sure. Fortunately for you, I have years of experience in both areas so talk to me. And rest assure the first person who breaks your heart will have to deal with me. Good luck to them!

3. Puberty – while I’d like to leave this topic to your dad, I’m a realist. You will have many questions as your body goes through different changes. It’s okay, I’m your mom – the woman who gave birth to you. Trust me, I’ve seen worse.

4. School & Homework – the shit just got real! One piece of advice: like your classes, even if you think you won’t. Approach school and homework like you do video games – make it a challenge you can achieve, conquer and slay. It’s going to be hard; you’re going to be bored; but you have no choice. Try your hardest and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

5. Technology – yes, I know you’re already smarter than me in all things computers, bits and bytes BUT hear this warning: if you put it out there in the digital universe – it doesn’t disappear with a stroke of the delete button. Friendships and reputations can be damaged beyond repair by what you put out in cyberspace. Yes, the Golden Rule still applies in the digital world.

6. Be a kid! – believe it or not, you’re still only 11 years old. And while we think kids are growing up faster and faster these days, so did our parents, and their parents before them. It’s okay to stop and enjoy the moment and wreak havoc and cause a little trouble – just not too much trouble. You’ve got to get the silly and the crazy out of your system now because come high school… well, that will be another letter of advice. Have fun!


A parent’s main goal in life is to help shape and raise independent, caring, respectful, loving children. Not jerks. And you, my lower school graduate, tick all the boxes. You have so many special gifts to share with this world and I can’t wait for you to get started. From the moment I dropped you off at preschool and you stated, “Say good-bye Mommy, I’m ready to play,” I knew you were a force to be taken seriously.

As you embark on the road to Middle School in the fall, no matter the challenge you face, I’ll always be in your corner cheering you on to success. You’re going to have good and bad days ahead – as will I, so go easy on me – but I have so much faith and confidence in you and can’t wait to watch you shine!

I love you to the moon and back and with all my heart, and I’m so proud to be your mom!




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