To the mom of a struggling learner: I see you. I see you worrying constantly about your child’s success. I see you painfully witnessing your child’s discouragements, spending hours searching Pinterest for the best interventions, and feeling the need to defend your child’s struggles when your friends boast of their child’s genius status.
I see you hanging on by a thread as you try so hard to impart all the knowledge you have into your child’s brain by way of osmosis. I see you and I’m there.
I never thought I would have a child who struggled academically -but then again, who does? It sounds prideful and arrogant, but as a former teacher, I just assumed that my kids would know their letters at two, read at four, and be solving algebraic equations at six. Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the picture. To my surprise, reality is a much different story.
As I’ve watched my oldest child walk this road of learning difficulties over the last few years, I have had many disheartening days feeling as if I haven’t done my job as a mom. There have been huge moments of celebration when tiny steps of growth have happened, but the bad days tend to overshadow the good days if I’m not careful. For those of you walking this similar road, I have a few thoughts that will hopefully bring courage to your journey:
Your child’s successes or struggles do not dictate your value as a mother.
As moms, we tend to let everything our children do dictate how we feel about ourselves. It’s easy to do. We spend our days trying to teach these tiny humans everything we know and when it doesn’t turn out the way we intend, it’s only natural to feel like we have failed and in turn, are failures ourselves. But the truth is that our children are their own little people with their own minds and their own motivations. We are to do our best, encourage our kids, and guide them to the best of our abilities. But we are also to remember that the outcome of our children is way bigger than ourselves (a topic I would love to chat about with anyone interested) and their struggles do not translate as our failures.
Struggle and challenge lead to strength and endurance.
I know we hate to hear this. The last thing we want to be told in the middle of difficulty is that it will make us stronger. But I’m here to proclaim it to you because we need to be reminded of truth, even if it sounds cheesy. When you are tired and frustrated and want to pull your hair out, take a deep breath, preach endurance to yourself and then encourage your child with every breath you have. These are trying moments, but they are moments that will shape your child for the rest of their days.
Your child will learn.
It may not be at the pace you desire or in the way you want, but they will learn. Every child learns different skills at various speeds. It’s the beauty of each of them growing into the very particular people they are meant to be. However frustrating it may be and however long we may seem to wait to see that light bulb come on, take heart: IT WILL HAPPEN! We cannot set a time-frame on our children’s learning. Which leads me to a pretty important reminder…
Your child’s value is not determined by academic skills.
If your four-year-old doesn’t know his colors yet, he is not less than other four-year-olds. If your seven-year-old can’t read yet, she isn’t less than other seven-year-olds. If your nine-year-old isn’t multiplying yet, he isn’t doomed. The world around us is creating a mindset that struggling learners are less than and this just isn’t true. Our kids are more than their academic skills–so much more. It’s our job to highlight their strengths and encourage their growth so that they, too, believe their true value.
These are truths that I am having to remind myself of daily. These are tricky waters to navigate – how do you encourage yourself and your child as you walk through learning difficulties?