Hannah sat at the computer long after I thought she should be finished with her assignments. Gripping the back of her desk chair, I started to swing her around to face me, then thought better of it. Staring at the back of her head, I lamented to myself. Why can’t she just do her work? She’s falling behind, but refuses my help.
We’d decided to try an online school this year and it was turning out to be a disaster. I was torn between wanting her to toughen up and do the work, but I also wanted to get through the year without hating each other. Even if the program wasn’t a good fit for her, I believed she could do better. I wondered what kind of punishment I could give to bring the situation under control.
What stopped me from swinging her chair around and tearing into her was my strong desire to have a relationship with her. She’s a preteen and several women told me this was it, I had four years of hell coming. That’s it, all the advice you give me is to lay over and succumb?
I wanted to prove them wrong. And the voice in my head knew anger would destroy what I really wanted. I wanted to have a relationship with my daughter like a Hallmark movie. The kind where she’d trust me enough to tell me about the guy she has a crush on or ask me for advice. Click To Tweet
My grip on the chair loosened. Worst case scenario, she’d flunk every class, then I’d look like a failure. Can I live with that? So what, it doesn’t matter what people think of me. I know she’s smart, and we can recover from a difficult seventh grade year. But if I’m a tyrant while trying to get the school work done, our relationship might not recover.
My shoulders relaxed. Almost smiling, I said, “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.”
She turned with a mixture of question and doubt in her eyes, “What?”
“Don’t worry about it, it’ll be okay.”
She hesitated to relax. She knew how I felt about getting school work done. Any minute my scorn might return and I’d be back to lecturing. But I didn’t.
Within weeks of deciding not to fight, we discovered she needed glasses. Not being able to see the computer screen clearly had a lot to do with her inattentiveness. She got her glasses in November of that school year and spent the day walking around saying, “Look, I see leaves on the trees instead of a blob of green.” Things like that make you feel guilty as a parent.
When she continued to struggle with school, I sat down at her computer to complete a days’ worth of her math, language, science, and history. I went through the work and followed all the instructions. Each subject took me over an hour. Second guilty moment, why hadn’t I done that before? I had looked at the program and separate subjects multiple times, but until I worked it as a student, I didn’t get it. The program was labor intensive. The school said you didn’t have to do everything listed in the assignments, but I could tell it would be hard for her to discern which parts she could omit.
After that we worked together more and I encouraged her, but we both had plenty of moments of frustration. After a lot of hard work, it looked like she would fail every class. I didn’t think she’d flunk every class when I thought up the worst-case scenario, but here we were.
Because this online school was a public charter school, she was required to take the state of Georgia end of year exams at a satellite location. The exam covered core subjects. When the test results came in, she had met the requirements for math and history. In language and science, she exceeded the requirements. Therefore, the next year, I’ll start her in eighth grade, but not in online school.The difficulties of the school year did not didn’t ruin our days together because I set my goal with a long-term mission in mind—relationship. Click To Tweet
Not worrying about her grades caused me to set aside my pride and control only what I could, namely my responses. Since then, there’ve been plenty of times I’ve acted poorly, or we’ve argued, but we don’t hold any grudges. And today I pinch myself, it’s a dream come true. The “four years of hell” didn’t happen as others predicted and my daughter says she loves spending time with me. And that’s what I’ve always wanted.
“The wise woman builds her house [on a foundation of godly precepts, and her household thrives], But the foolish one [who lacks spiritual insight] tears it down with her own hands [by ignoring godly principles]” (Proverbs 14:1 AMP).*
Let’s talk about this! Is there an area in which your loved one needs grace? How easy or challenging is it for you to choose what is precious over what is perfect? Share your thoughts with us, and make sure to join us for our upcoming mother-daughter conference to learn how to love one another with grace. Find out more and how to register HERE.
by The Lockman Foundation
All rights reserved www.lockman.org
Buy your copy HERE.