parenting is tough right now

i absolutely adore our two kids. both are so much fun, and both have really beautiful hearts, are caring, and seem to love god. but that doesn’t make parenting easy, and jeannie and i are both really struggling right now.

liesl is a wonderful creative. put her in a dance class, or in choir, or in the art studio, or performing a play, and she is ‘in the zone’. but her creativity has a common ‘other side’ — completely lack of discipline. this shows up most in doing her homework (or even turning it in), which is a massive all-hands-on-deck family effort every single night. we’ve tried natural consequences, rewards, punishments, encouragment, systems, and forty other approaches. but her homework results in tension between her and us (or at least one of us) almost every night — certainly multiple times each week. cleaning up her room and other regular jobs fall into the same kind of struggle. we’re close to our wit’s end, and have considered whether we should pull her out of school for the rest of this year and home-school her — which would kill us, and, we’re worried, seriously deflate the bright spark she has in her.

max, on the other hand, does mostly fine in school, but really struggles socially (liesl has pretty much zero struggles socially). i’m convinced he’s going to do great in life, once he gets comfortable with who he is and finds his niche. he’s not very athletically-inclined, but there’s so much pressure for every kid to be in sports — so max tries at baseball. but i don’t think he’s having fun. and we don’t have any boys around us his age, so he plays by himself most of the time (which he actually likes much of the time). we want to help him, but not try to change him.

these have been weighing really heavy on my heart, and on jeannie’s, for a while now. but they seem to have heightened in the last 6 months. i don’t see any simple (or even difficult) solutions.

11 thoughts on “parenting is tough right now”

  1. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I appreciate so much the openness you display in your posts. This is my first ever comment, normally I try to stay away from commenting but I can empathize so much with this post of yours. My wife and I have two kids as well (a girl and a boy), with another on the way. It sounds like our girls have a ton in common. Maddie is six right now and is extremely creative and loves art but she just can’t focus on what would appear to be simple everyday tasks. Joel just turned five and most of his friends are our college students that we work with at our church. He definitely is a lot different than other five year old boys, but in a way that makes me excited because he is unafraid to express himself. I don’t really have any advice but just encouragement that if we love our kids and teach them to truly love the way our Father loves us it’ll all work out in the end. As parents we will make mistakes and we will try different methods to correct things but what we most ultimately focus on and pray for is that these little people come to love God with all their heart, mind, & soul and that they love all those they come into contact with. Thank God for our children’s uniqueness and lets pray each day for an extra measure of grace and patience.

  2. we will be praying here marko. i think our buck and max would be fast friends.

    as liam and i have both been diagnosed recently – we are both highly creative a.d.h.d. types – we see it in our kids too. i don’t know if this kind of thing is similar to liesl’s issues, but we have found a lot of behavior modification techniques that are working well for us, and for our kids.

    our biggest struggle is that it’s so ‘easy’ when it’s other people’s kids – we’re EXPERTS… sigh. why does it become so difficult for us with our own??? you, jeannie and the kids will be in our prayers!

    btw – thanks for the recommend on angels & demons, literally just finished it and it was a great, captivating read. perfect for a cold, rainy winter day!

  3. What if you talked about how school is her job now….like mommy and daddy have a job.and if mom and dad didn’t go to work, and do their jobs then your family would struggle. Or like you could set up a whole scene (like that cosby episode) and act out what would happen if dad didn’t do his job. She could even act it out. You could be your boss and she could be you.
    It could be cool and fun (hit her where she is gifted!!).
    I don’t know. Maybe you have already tried it!

  4. I hear you loud and clear. We go through similar situations with our 4 children. Thanks for sharing. We aren’t alone. We’ll be praying bro.

  5. Great post Marko. I just read this to my wife and asked her if she thought of anyone in particular. Our 17 year old daughter sounds much like liesl. after struggling with these same things, we determined to live into her creativity and even a likely a.d.d. streak. she is now on track to turn a mediocre educational journey into something we thought there all the time. the room thing – well, it is still a sore spot from time to time. But, your hope not to quench the spark is well worth paying attention to.

  6. Sharing the angst with you, Marko. The evening routines are sometimes so fraught with stress. As parents we usually have an agenda for homework/dinner/bath/bedtime; the kids want to play. And then play. Oh, and play some more.

    You know my one kid pretty well. Good, kind, mostly normal (I think). Not much interest in athletics there either, and we were hoping for an NBA contract outta that guy since he’ll probably be eight feet tall. I decided not to push him; we encourage him to be active and try his best. When he asks for an opportunity to participate in something, we try to support it. But he seems to be happy with who he is and how he’s maturing, so I’m not worrying too much about the athletic part right now. I believe fun is great for the spirit of a child (and grownups, too!), so I let it be that for the kids. If they’re not having fun, something on the inside isn’t feeling good.

    Our 8-year-old daughter Jessica sounds a lot like Liesl in terms of creativity. She would rather be singing, dancing, shakin her bootay, painting, coloring, anything. She’s even turned dusting with those swiffer things into an artistic event, flittering around the house like a little tinkerbell on a mission! She does love school, though, so getting the homework done isn’t so much an issue, as actually knowing where she set it down last and how much of it she finished. I check it and ask, “What about page 3?” Eyes roll in confusion. “Oh, SNAP! I forgot.” Her room is a declared disaster area. Until she complains that she can’t find her stuff, it doesn’t matter to her. It’s starting to sink in, but ever so slowly.

    We’ve had to go to zero-tolerance which means no television of any kind from Sunday nite through Friday afternoon. After school they have about 30 minutes to settle in at home, have a snack, and get started on homework. When they’re done, they have some play time together but it’s limited to board games, some computer time, or outside play. We don’t have any neighborhood kids around either, so play dates with friends are pretty much limited to weekends when we can shuttle them back and forth.

    I could go on. And on. I’ll just pray for you and Jeannie to find grace (I’m still looking for her and man, she hides really well!), and patience. Choose your battles carefully. They are only little kids for a very little while.

  7. Trust that you are the right parents for both of your children and that they are the right children for you. I have four. All are different with different challenges for their parents.(One has autism.) My youngest, Ruth, is much like your Liesl. It has been exasperating at times, but such a joy to see her sparkle. She’ll be okay and so will yours. I was just like that. I turned out okay with a lot of trust in God. I couldn’t have been the mother to her that I would have been had I not experienced that nature in myself. God’s plan is perfect and He IS in control. Celebrate the child that she is, help her by letting her know that you’re interested in her work. Put her creative mind to work by getting her help to solve issues of tension. Let her know that she’s wonderful and gifted and accepted for who she is. Close the door to her room and don’t stress over it.(It could be much worse.) The rest will come with maturity. Watch for signs of mood changes,(we creative adhd types are prone to depression). I will pray for you, and I’ll celebrate for you. Trust.

  8. Don’t I remember reading that Liesl is in her first year of middle school? I’m sure this is no news to you! :) – but we’ve been learning the hard way with our daughter that 6th grade is a huge challenge with homework and organization. There is just so much more organization and follow through that’s required than ever before!!

    As I’ve been working through MY issues about my daughter’s homework issues with my counselor – she (my counselor) has been encouraging me that a few mediocre grades in 6th grade don’t mean near as much as the relationship that we are establishing at this transition time in my daughter’s life. Hard words for this perfectionist mother to hear, but it’s helped me change my focus with my daughter just a bit, and our homework situation is improving a little. Also – I recognized that the self-discipline that it takes me to be willing to work with her every evening in addressing her responsibilites (with an attitude that helps the situation) is hard for me. Then I thought – if it’s hard for me – how can I expect it to come easily for her? So I have a little more empathy for her struggles than I did a few weeks ago. Don’t know if that helps at all – but I hear your struggles!

    I don’t think I’ve ever commented here – but I also want to say that I really appreciate your blog!

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