Learning to Struggle

Jordana Green
Photo by cherries – fotolia

I recently went to my kids’ parent-teacher conferences. My kids are normal, average, and get in just enough trouble to be typical American children. I thank God every day they are healthy kids with the ability to learn, make friends, and even do well in school.

But at one point this year my son did not understand his math lesson, and struggled on a test. This upset him as math has always come easy to him. He was more frustrated that it wasn’t intuitive than the fact that he got one problem wrong on the test. As a mom and the fixer, I offered to get him extra help with a tutor. He agreed. It turns out we both jumped the gun.

A few days later, after a little more time with the material and a little harder work, it clicked. Fractions are hard, but he got it. When discussing this with his teacher at the conference, she said it was good that he “learned to struggle.”

I’d never heard it put so plainly before. She distilled parenting down to three words: Learn To Struggle. If you are alive, struggle is inevitable. None of us avoid it. (As my 12-year-old would say, “the struggle is real,” tru dat.) But allowing the struggle to be, and letting it teach us its lesson, is the key.

Looking back on the fraction episode, I failed miserably. I tried to band-aid the struggle with a tutor instead of letting my son work it out on his own. But watching your kid struggle is one of the most painful things a parent can endure. (The parenting struggle is real!) Can I promise that the next time one of my children is struggling that I won’t swoop in and try to fix it? I’ll try but I can’t promise. I hope I will at least pause to try and decipher the learning inside the struggle.

This week I wish you acceptance of whatever your current struggle is and the clarity to see the lesson in it.

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