Dear MOB Society,One of my sons is just not keeping up in schoolwork. I’ve tried to help him, but I’m not sure exactly what to do. Then the other day I noticed my youngest—a preschooler—seems behind his friends in some areas. I feel like I’ve let both of them down. What do I do?
First of all, Mama, I want to tell you I prayed about this post as I sat down to write. I know how scary and frustrating it can be to see this in your sons. But keep reading, and hang on. There’s definitely hope!
We all want our boys to do their best…and I don’t know about you, but I had a “best” in mind. It took a while for me to realize that their best and my idea of “best” were not always going to match.
But that’s not all there is to it; developmental and educational delays are real. Let’s tackle them one at a time.
Do you see developmental delays—milestones being missed?
In this case, you or a friend or a teacher has noticed that your son is not meeting developmental milestones. He’s not skipping or cutting or speaking when others do.
A couple of things to consider:
Don’t panic. Some variance in these milestones is sometimes normal.
Don’t rely on one person’s opinion—even your own.
Where to get help? Try your pediatrician first. If you know a preschool teacher or an early childhood specialist, go visit. There are specialists that assess this kind of thing—developmental or behavioral pediatricians, pediatric neurologists, educational psychologists. Yes, many charge for their services, but I can tell you that the evaluation we got was worth its weight in gold. We found out early what one of our sons needed, and that made all the difference in the world.
What if you—or someone—sees educational delays?
In this case, your child is already school age and is not able to keep up with his peers. He may have problems in one specific area or in several.
Again, don’t rely on one person’s opinion. I’ve been around moms and teachers all my life and none are perfect. Get a second opinion, get a third opinion—maybe a fourth.
Where to get help? Insist on testing. If funds are an issue, find out what your state offers. The Child Find program is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its goal is to identify individuals with problems and direct them to the appropriate early intervention or education programs. Yes, even if your child is not enrolled in public school, there should be some testing available. (Google “Child Find” and your state.) There is usually a waiting period, and I’ve known parents who have paid for the testing for that very reason. Each state differs, too, in its definition of delay and disability, so you may find your son doesn’t meet their criteria for help—but you’ll still get information about him and where he stands.
A few things to remember:
You have to be an advocate for your son. His teacher or pediatrician may not insist that you pursue this, but if you’re feeling things aren’t right, at least get another opinion.
Give your son room to be him. You want him to be the best “him” he can, but remember that God has gifted all of us in different ways. Your son may lack something developmentally or educationally, but I’m sure the Father has given him a wealth of something else. Teach him to cope and to overcome when he can, but let him know, above all else, that he is dearly loved.
Help him to be resilient—to bounce back when he stumbles or doesn’t “make the mark.”
Help him to persist—not to give up.
Help him to find his loves and talents and bolster those.
Shower him with your love and the Father’s; teach him to work for the Lord in all he does.
Pray for him; always, pray for him.
If you think you ignored something, repent of it and move on. Give it to the Father and ask Him to help you be an advocate for your boy. Remember, this isn’t all on you; you have help much bigger than you.
God has plans for your boy.
Laura Lee Groves is a writer, teacher, speaker and the mom of four boys. She’s the author of I’m Outnumbered! One Mom’s Lessons in the Lively Art of Raising Boys and a novel, Pearl. You can visit her at http://www.OutnumberedMom.com.
This post is part of our first series of 2014, Hope for the Messiness of Motherhood. Find all of the posts in this series here.