My son's an average student, but hates to read; he's an OK athlete, but doesn't enjoy sports—unlike many of his friends who are really involved in school and athletics. I don't want to be pushy, but should I be doing more to help him succeed?
I don't like the term "average." There's no such thing as an average child as far as God's concerned. Sometimes we parents get sucked into comparing our children against the social norm. I don't know who "Norm" is, but he isn't my child, and I don't want my kids looking like him!
Take another look at your son. Is he a really good friend to others? Is he quick to sense when you're down and offer an encouraging hug? Would you say there's a refreshing humility about him? The world tends to measure success on a different scale than God does. Ask the Lord to help you see your son through his eyes.
Perhaps God doesn't need your son to be involved in sports or excel in school to fulfill the purpose for which he created him. Maybe your son was born to become an amazing father—and as long as he can read his Bible and a few fairy tales, then he doesn't have to enjoy reading. Or maybe he'll end up coaching Little League instead of playing on a team. Your son could very well grow up to become the one everyone turns to because he's never too busy to listen.
I believe the world could use fewer heroes on the field and more parents at home. More servants than scientists. And a lot fewer celebrities in exchange for a lot more neighbors. So trust God to bring your child's giftedness to the surface in his timing. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for opportunities to nurture your son in areas not as obvious as athletics, school, or the arts.
The "Whine Factor"
I thought once we were out of the "terrible twos," temper tantrums would cease, but I've learned they only take on a new form—whining! My daughters, ages 8 and 11, whine if something doesn't go their way. This "whine factor" is driving me nuts.
Once I realized whining is simply manipulation in a cute little dress, I found it much easier to deal with. You need to treat it like any other bad habit—help them break it. So refuse to respond to whining under any circumstance.
The next time one of your daughters whines about something, calmly look her in the eye and say, "I'm sorry. I don't speak 'whinese.' Please translate your complaint into a tone I can respond to, and we'll talk." Stand firm and don't be drawn into a "nasal argument."
As soon as your daughter can converse in a normal tone of voice, listen carefully to her grievance. Show her you value her feelings. Consider her viewpoint, and state your reasons for your decision. You may end up changing your mind or giving her an explanation for why you're sticking to your guns.
Hopefully your daughters will come to understand whining gets them nowhere—but that when they talk to you with respect, you'll take time to listen. If they continue to whine after that, simply refuse to continue the dialogue. A one-way conversation gets boring real fast.
Kid in Command
My seven-year-old son always tells others what to do or informs them of exactly what he's thinking, even if it hurts their feelings. As a result, he doesn't have many friends. Help!
A few years ago, our family visited Mount Rushmore and learned this incredible monument took 14 years to complete. What if its sculptor had paused after a few years and said to himself, This is too hard. All I'm doing is blasting away huge chunks of granite with dynamite. This doesn't look like the image I had in mind. It still looks more like a rough-hewn face on a mountain than the face of a president! Thankfully, he didn't give up—and his handiwork is still blessing generations.
It sounds as though God entrusted you with a young man with leadership potential. Remember, he's in the process of shaping your strong-willed child; God won't give up until your son resembles the image he has in mind—that of his Son, Jesus. So don't despair if God has to use a little "dynamite" to break through—or if it takes longer than you thought it would.
Since your son's probably a bit hard-headed (not uncommon with leaders), he may need to learn many of his lessons the hard way. The truth is, he may not have many friends until he figures out the reason why and decides it's not worth trying to be in control all the time. While you should talk to him about taking turns, sharing, and being kind, he still has to make the changes himself.
Between your prayers and God's power to reach your son's heart, I believe you'll step back one day and praise God for the mighty work he's done in and through your son.
Lisa Whelchel is the author of Creative Correction (Focus on the Family) and the mother of three. Visit her website at www.lisawhelchel.com. Have a parenting question for Lisa? E-mail her at tcwedit@ christianitytoday.com.
Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today/Today's Christian Woman magazine.
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January/February 2006, Vol. 28, No. 1, Page 14