While not exactly a support group, a book club at Scarborough Middle School gives parents the chance to discuss the challenges of raising middle school children and develop ideas on how to make the job a bit easier.

The book club, which was started by school counselors, is an attempt to encourage more parental involvement within the school and was modeled after a similar club held in a neighboring school district.

Counselors said middle school students are at the age when children begin to seek more independence from their parents, but at the same time require guidance. Often dealing with these and other related issues can be difficult.

It is the counselors’ hope that by meeting other parents who are dealing with the same situation and discussing the challenges, it may make the transition a bit easier.

“It’s support for parents, getting ideas and meeting other people who you can bounce ideas off of,” said Middle School Counselor Melissa Jones.

The basis for this week’s discussion was “Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall?” by Anthony Wolf, a book that provides some insight on raising teenagers.

While the book was briefly touched upon, it mainly served as a starting point for the discussion, which quickly turned to the issues facing parents.

Discussions ranged from setting parameters and rules to discipline and behavior along with a host of other issues that the parents have dealt with at one time or another while raising teenagers.

Other subjects discussed during the meeting were a surprise to parents, such as children saying positive things about their parents to teachers at school.

Parents found the discussion helpful and said it provided them with some good information about what is going on their child, which as it turns out is no different than what most other children are going through in their early teens.

Mary Plumis, a parent of a sixth-grade student and three younger children, said she joined the club because it is difficult for her to focus on all the children at the same time.

The book club gave her a chance to talk with parents and discuss some of the issues she is facing and perhaps find other ways of handling them based on what others are doing.

“It’s not just me, everybody is going through this,” she said.

In addition the book club, the school is hosting general discussions on various issues facing students during the year. The first of these discussions was held earlier this month and focused on middle school anxiety and stress.

There is another one scheduled for March that will focus on knowing children and allowing them some independence. The school district also is seeking parent opinions on other subjects for future discussions.

The middle school has tried to hold similar outreach programs in the past, but they were stopped because of a lack of interest.

The book club will take a break during the holidays and return Jan. 10 when the book of the month will be “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys,” by Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson. The club will meet at noon at the middle school.


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