And Then They Stopped Talking to Me: Making Sense of Middle School

Judith Warner (Author)


Through the stories of kids and parents in the middle school trenches, a New York Times bestselling author reveals why these years are so painful, how parents unwittingly make them worse, and what we all need to do to grow up.

"Judith Warner brilliantly challenges the assumption that middle school has to be a chalkboard jungle."--Peggy Orenstein, author of Boys & Sex and Girls & Sex

The French have a name for the uniquely hellish years between elementary school and high school: l'âge ingrat, or "the ugly age." Characterized by a perfect storm of developmental changes--physical, psychological, and social--the middle school years are a time of great distress for children and parents alike, marked by hurt, isolation, exclusion, competition, anxiety, and often outright cruelty. Some of this is inevitable; there are intrinsic challenges to early adolescence. But these years are harder than they need to be, and Judith Warner believes that adults are complicit.

With deep insight and compassion, Warner walks us through a new understanding of the role that middle school plays in all our lives. She argues that today's helicopter parents are overly concerned with status and achievement--in some ways a residual effect of their own middle school experiences--and that this worsens the self-consciousness, self-absorption, and social "sorting" so typical of early adolescence.

Tracing a century of research on middle childhood and bringing together the voices of social scientists, psychologists, educators, and parents, Warner's book shows how adults can be moral role models for children, making them more empathetic, caring, and resilient. She encourages us to start treating middle schoolers as the complex people they are, holding them to high standards of kindness, and helping them see one another as more than "jocks and mean girls, nerds and sluts."

Part cultural critique and part call to action, this essential book unpacks one of life's most formative periods and shows how we can help our children not only survive it but thrive.

Product Details

$27.00  $24.84
Crown Publishing Group (NY)
Publish Date
May 05, 2020
6.0 X 1.4 X 9.4 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Judith Warner is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety and Hillary Clinton: The Inside Story, as well as the award-winning We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication. A senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, Warner has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times, where she wrote the popular Domestic Disturbances column, as well as numerous other publications.


"As the parent of a middle schooler, I felt as if Warner had peered into my life--and the lives of many of my patients. With clarity, compassion, and insight, And Then They Stopped Talking to Me brilliantly captures the landscape of kids' experiences today and the psychological, familial, and cultural forces shaping them. Along the way, Warner debunks age-old myths and offers practical guidance that every parent can use. This is a gift to our kids and their future selves."--Lori Gottlieb, author of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

"I don't know a single adult who did not feel alone, insecure, or deeply self-conscious in middle school. Warner puts the pieces of the puzzle together to show us just how not-alone we were--and gives us the knowledge to guide our children through one of the most painful moments of childhood."--Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out and Enough As She Is

"If your child's middle school journey is unraveling you, Warner's new book is the one you need to read. She will give you the gift of perspective, along with a personal and scientific understanding of what is happening to your child. I have often advised parents not to allow themselves to be sucked back into middle school when they see their children's distress or hear their war stories. But I had no guidebook to offer them. Now I do."--Michael G. Thompson, co-author of Raising Cain

"Warner has written a compulsively readable book, a cross between The Breakfast Club and Desperate Housewives. I only wish I'd had it on my bedside table when my own kids were adolescents. But I'd actually recommend it for parents at any stage, as it holds a mirror up to us as much as to our kids, and indeed to society as a whole. We created the whole concept of middle school and its associated traumas; it's time to free ourselves!"--Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family

"Warner reminds us of the emotional, psychological, and cognitive demands of early adolescence--both our own and that of our children. With her usual sharply tuned ability to chronicle the traumatic in the ordinary, she shows that our primary role with our middle school children is to remain steadfastly compassionate and help them make sense of the chaotic and unforgiving world they often live in. . . . An indispensable parents' companion for navigating one of the most challenging and extraordinary stages in life."--Madeline Levine, author of The Price of Privilege and Ready or Not

"Judith Warner has written the book that every parent of every adolescent needs and has not been able to find. It not only helps us decipher what's going on inside our middle schoolers' hearts and minds, but also gives us concrete advice on what to do about it. I found myself wishing I'd had it when my children were younger. Then I found myself wishing that my mother had it when I was younger. Middle school is a monstrous roller coaster ride. Warner helps us heal our own still-bruised psyches so we can actually help our children."--Lisa Belkin, creator of the Motherlode blog for the New York Times