For the first step toward wisdom is an earnest desire for discipline. Wisdom 6:17
I had Zack’s parent teacher conference the week before last. I chose to meet with his science teacher because that’s the one class he’s really struggling in. It just didn’t make sense; Zack is incredibly bright. I needed to learn more about the teacher’s expectations, and get some insight into why the train was off the tracks.
It was a very difficult and discouraging conference.
For fifteen minutes I had to sit and listen to all the ways Zack hasn’t been trying: the missed homework assignments, the refusal to do make-up work and retake tests, sub-standard lab reports, etc. The teacher wasn’t being unkind; he was just being factual.
I have ALWAYS told my kids that their letter grades don’t matter to me; it’s their effort that counts. Hearing Zack had such poor effort was like a punch in the gut.
As painful as the conference was, it didn’t hold a stick to how excruciating my talk with Zack was once I got home. He openly admitted to doing the bare minimum, with the least amount of effort possible. I then outlined the privileges he was losing as a result.
Seeing the tears well up in his eyes, I understood more than ever how punishing our kids hurts us just as much as it hurts them. It took everything in my power to not cave in and lessen the punishment. But I knew that to be a good mother, I had to stay strong.
As I explained to Zack, I’m not running a trophy household: I’m not going to reward my kids for just showing up, never mind not trying. That’s not the real world. In the real world, those who work hard and try their best get the pay increases and promotions, not the slackers who sit twiddling their thumbs, avoiding the work.
Ironically enough, Zack’s biggest asset is his Achilles heal: He’s too smart for his own good. Historically, he hasn’t had to study, yet has still been able to get good grades on quizzes and tests. Consequently, he hasn’t needed the discipline to develop good study habits.
Worse yet, his newest tactic is to cram the night before a test, and then only kick it into gear with homework right before grades close. Not only has he been able to bring his grades up to an acceptable level, but when the teachers write comments on his report card, that effort at the end is what they remember most.
That is, until now. This science teacher has Zack’s number, and he’s calling it. And it’s showing me that Zack may be intelligent and street smart, but he’s not wise.
Wisdom has to be learned and earned. There’s no other way to get it. Before life teaches Zack wisdom the really hard way, I have to teach him wisdom in the safe space of my home. If I’m trying to teach him discipline so he develops good study habits, I have to role-model discipline by towing the line with his punishment. I can’t cave in, no matter how much it hurts us both.
I really want Zack to overcome this hiccup in the road so he goes on to demonstrate sincere effort in his high school, college, and professional careers. That will be more likely to happen if I stay the course now. I have to let him feel the painful consequences of his choices. Doing so will hopefully inspire him to rise above, and want to do better.
Questions For Reflection:
* Is my child struggling from a lack of discipline?
* Is that struggle causing negative ramifications?
* Can I be strong enough to help my child learn discipline on his/her road to wisdom?