Any parent would tell you that there’s nothing worse than thinking or knowing that something is wrong with their child. The questioning about what did *they* do (or not do), the concerns that perhaps they missed some earlier signs, the worries about the long-term issues that their child may face. All are very real introspective questions that accompany parenting a struggling child — it simply goes with the territory. Many have said that it equates to the stages of grief. I get it because I, too, have been there.
But here’s the problem. Over the past several weeks (and for years beforehand as well), I have spoken with more than a few parents who have rejected the notion that indeed, something is happening with their child in school and that further investigation via evaluations is needed. One parent stated that he’s “just being lazy” while another parent said that “he just needs to focus better.” Another told me that “there’s nothing wrong with her that less time on Facebook won’t fix” and another said that while her child has already been diagnosed, it’s really not what’s going on.
Is this denial or fear? And does it really matter? The answer is this — whether it takes two weeks or a year to mobilize, the longer the parents wait to do so, the tougher the path for their child. We all know parents who kick-it into overdrive immediately, exhausting every possible resource to find answers. We also know parents who take a “wait and see” approach, certainly understandable when the issues are unclear. The problems emerge, however, when parents either conclude that whatever is happening is just a passing phase or that a “good talking to” or removing privileges will set the child on the right path.
That expression “it’s all about me” comes into play in spades in situations where a parent, because of denial or fear, fails to take action to help their struggling child succeed. The parent is leading with their own feelings instead of stepping back and realizing that no…this is not about me but rather, it’s all about my child.
Each day of lost learning often snowballs into years of struggle. What starts as a child’s inability to read aloud in 2nd Grade often becomes a teen’s inability to succeed in a high school public speaking class. A middle school child without a single friend is a sign that something is amiss. A child exhibiting troublesome behaviors is communicating that there is something wrong. Parents need to pay attention and sweep their own feelings aside until the child’s struggles are evaluated and interventions are in place.
Acknowledging that your child is struggling isn’t easy. But either is raising a child. If you know, whether from seeing failing grades, the inability to complete homework, or mounting social and behavioral issues, that your child is not doing well at their job — i.e. school, fearing what it “could be” or denying what it “is” and not mobilizing just delays acknowledging the fact… something is wrong and it’s not going away.
Parenting is as difficult as it is rewarding. No one prepares any of us for the “what if’s” that come along with raising a child from infancy to young adulthood. Yet parents *are* parents because we have the life experience and wisdom to make the difficult choices and decisions. We can handle it because we must.