“Why won’t you study,” I (sorta) yelled for the umpteenth time to my then nine year-old son. “What is the problem,” I asked? This inquiry was immediately followed by the shrugging of my son’s shoulders as the two words I hate to hear fell from his mouth: “I dunno.”
Oh, how that set me off. How it made me mad. His lack of caring put me on edge. So much so, that I had to let him know.
“Son, I don’t understand. When I was your age (yes, I went there) I studied all the time. I mean, I really wanted to get good grades. I wanted to do well in school.”
His response hit me square between the eyes as he abruptly retorted,
“But I’m not you.”
It was one of those a-ha moments. You know the kind that Oprah’s always having? Up until that point everything has been fuzzy, but all of a sudden it all clicks and you have an epiphany of sorts.
I’ll be the first to admit that raising boys isn’t easy — at times it’s downright foreign. And even though I haven’t a clue as to what I’m doing half the time, I continually do everything within my power to nurture my son (body, mind, and spirit). Even so…this one interaction made me realize that I was parenting my son to become more like me, and less of the boy God had created him to be.
This past year of school, I really struggled with my son. Not because he wasn’t doing well—he was. School comes naturally to him. Rather, my frustration came from seeing him not put forth the extra effort to do his very best. My boy was content with skating by and didn’t really care about it.
And it was eating me alive.
Where was his motivation? Where was that drive and determination to succeed? After all, he was my kid. I had been diligent in my studies and used to obsess over my grades.
But this boy who looks just like me and came from my body? He doesn’t study. He doesn’t give school the time of day and doesn’t see the need give it a place of priority. My lectures on it’s importance have fallen on deaf ears and every opportunity to foster a passion for his studies has failed miserably.
It’s true, he isn’t me.
You know what, friends? Sometimes the hardest part about this parenting gig is realizing the Lord has provided our children with a uniqueness all their own. Their God-given gifts vary from the ones He gave you and I. Our personalities, strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes…it can all look very different from theirs. And as much as they may look like us, we have not been charged with raising miniature versions of ourselves. On this journey I’ve (finally) realized I’ve got to stop thinking like me and start thinking like him. I need to get inside his head and parent accordingly…differently. I need to stop trying to push my ways upon my boy and figure out how to motivate him based on his interests, strengths, and gifts.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL: As we’ve already established, our children are not clones. My son and I have completely different views when it comes to report cards, school, anything remotely academic. What motivates me does not motivate him. So, I have to figure out what does excite him. I need to use his interests—his likes and hobbies—as a means of motivation.
PRAY MORE: There is a whole lot of power in prayer and mine usually looks like this: Lord, please foster a passion for learning in my son. Help him to glorify You in everything he does. Motivate him to do his best, always and shine the light on You in the process.
- RELY ON GOD: When our children do battle against us (and we don’t see eye-to-eye with them), it can be downright difficult to deal with and often painful. Thankfully, we’re not alone. God is with us, friends. He’s there to hear our prayers, to help us through our struggles, and to guide us on this journey. He’s there for our children too. Trust in Him and trust His plan for your son.
Stubborn Kids via www.parenting.com
The Truth About Parenting Teenagers by Joanne Kraft via www.graceformoms.com
Parenting Your Strong-Willed Child via www.ahaparenting.com