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  • Renata Joseph

Battle of wills


Parenting (and homeschooling) a 12 year old is a lot, especially when that child is a mini version of yourself. I know that, but this week I am discovering it anew.


Typically in life I'm a "live and let live" kind of person. Don't get me wrong; I prefer to help, support, and guide people, but if someone isn't interested in my help, I back off. It's their life. It's their call.


Then there's my son.


In his mind, he's got this. He knows exactly what matters in his life and what doesn't. He is super smart and lazy. I'm familiar with this combination because he got it from me. AJ has pretty high personal and professional goals and I want to help him develop the strategies and habits he'll need to reach them. He's not interested.


What I see and feel from him while trying to refine his writing (for example) is resistance, derision and disrespect. He says he's not trying to disrespect me, but he feels dumb and embarrassed that he's not good at whatever we're working on. Flashback to saxophone lessons from 1991 to 1998. I'm sitting in my living room with my orchestra teacher mother who is trying to help me get better at the sax. I am resistant, rude and disrespectful. I don't want to be better at it if it means putting work into it. Playing an instrument isn't my thing; it's hers. I am perfectly content to be mediocre.


I'm beginning to see his point. Our biggest point of contention right now is Spanish. Part of the friction is because I am prioritizing something for him that he doesn't prioritize for himself. AJ has been in dual-language schooling for 6 years. We put him into Spanish school since Kindergarten because Eddie and I both learned a second language at a young age and because we planned to one day move our family to Central America.


Now that we're here, AJ is resentful. Moving here wasn't his idea. In fact, as far as he's concerned, it has ruined his life. The first chance he gets he's headed back to North American soil to get his life plan back on track. Sigh...this is so hard for him. Digging in my heels to make him fully bilingual by the age of 15 isn't going to help him adjust to being here. Feeling secure and heard will help.


Proverbs 3:5 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight."


As a mother, I feel responsible to prepare my kids for life. They will need knowledge, tools and skills to thrive as adults. But if the foundation of their worth is addled with doubt and insecurity, none of the rest of it matters.


Yes, AJ needs to work on his persistence and grit. Yes, knowing a second language is valuable in countless ways. But I'm the adult; he's not. He's 12 and right now, what matters most is that he sees that his parents love him and trust God to make his path straight.

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