I am a perfect parent, with perfect parenting ideas and perfectly behaved kids. And why shouldn’t I be? I mean, I’ve read all the “right” books, listened to all the “right” speakers and have implemented all the “right” strategies. As soon as my boys begin speaking they’re memorizing Scripture. We have family devotions every night. My husband and I are in full-time ministry for crying out loud.
Reality? My first-grader has been in the principal’s office twice this year and is the only kid in his class of 30 to have his own check mark system for disrupting the class. He’s hit a classmate (boy who tried to hug and kiss him), spit at a classmate (same one), written on the playground fence (brain fart), and missed numerous recesses due to behavior (usually weird noises).
Now, he’s not at all a “bad” kid he’s more just…well, WILD. He has a tender and responsive heart, but he’s in a particularly advanced charter school that has particularly high expectations. We’re talking NO noise allowed in the halls or bathrooms, and they start learning Latin and Economics in Kindergarten. Hello!
My initial reaction to the consequences he began receiving were well intended. I set about to show him extra grace and encouragement at home. I prayed for his teacher to show him favor. I basically was just waiting for when the maturity to be self-controlled would kick in. I mean he is a boy after all. He’s my child and I know him better than anyone else. He’s just misunderstood! I also began researching ADHD.
Well, he totally doesn’t have ADHD, but he does lack self-control. While it’s true that he may be in a strict environment, I’ve recently had a new perspective on how to train his heart Biblically to respond. Ephesians 5:5-8 says (subbing students for slaves and teachers for master):
Students, obey your teachers with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like students of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord and not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does.
- What if instead of just telling him we’ll love him no matter what (which we do still tell him) we started exhorting him to be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil (Romans 16:19)?
- What if we told him that he should respect his teachers as the authorities that God has set over him for a time? That whether their rules seem fair or not, they’re the rules he’s meant to obey?
- What if he worked hard and “suffered” well so he could bring glory to God and cause his teachers to wonder why he responded so well?
- What if he “unjustly” was sent to the (Atheist) principal’s office, but he had the opportunity to respond in humility?
I haven’t forgotten that the child is 6. I have little expectation that he’ll actually respond like that, but he could. And we’re praying that he does. And he’s hearing truth, because I’ve had some stinkers for bosses to whom I should have responded like this but I didn’t always (or ever).
One of my favorite things to say to another struggling momma is “all is not lost.” So I’ll say it to myself. All is not lost. There’s still hope for him.
One of our reasons for choosing public school is for our boys to have the opportunity to experience difficult times so they can learn how to stand up under them. I guess I didn’t think we’d have the opportunity so soon, but….bring it on!