Accept or Avoid

Humans make mistakes. Humans stumble, fall, and get back up again. When facing adversity and when it seems like the chips are stacked against us, are we willing to accept life and make changes or do we avoid what appears in front of us and act like it doesn’t exist?

I’ve been reading Michael J. Fox’s book Always Looking Up. I remember his years in the acting world- but I’m sure most of you today also know he’s living with Parkinson’s Disease. This book is a memoir of his last ten years living with this condition, a book of perseverance and the ability to never give up in the development of a cure for his affliction that also affects millions of others around the world.

I wish my youngest daughter would see what his daily life is like- and the way he handles things with such a funny, optimistic outlook. How he struggles to get the proper muscle movement to do basic daily tasks such as brushing his teeth or putting on clothes. The medications, the fatigue, the slurring of words- he forges forward, putting his message out there and raising funds to put back into scientific research to hopefully develop the right stem cell research to cure this disease.

We received a phone call from the school today that my youngest daughter hasn’t been turning in her homework in math for the past three weeks. Her reasoning? “I just don’t like doing it.” We’ve been facing this same issue with homework since she moved into our house. We’ve attempted point charts, we’ve taken away items that she desires (favorite clothes, shoes, electronic items), we’ve made her do more household chores, we’ve had her write out apologies and deliver them verbally- and the behavior hasn’t changed.

She would rather avoid doing it, as there hasn’t been a good enough reason to want to change the behavior. She feels like all her needs are going to be taken care of, so why bother with homework. To her, six hours of school per day is already torture enough- why add another 30-45 minutes in the afternoon or evening to the mix? She has an IEP (individual education plan), but there’s nothing specific in there regarding homework policies.

I feel like in sixth grade she’s at the crossroads of where her future ideas and dreams will be. She has to know and believe that what she’s doing right now is purely power play, that it’s not that she doesn’t have the ability to do the work, she’s just refusing to do it.

I guess I never faced this in my life, and neither did my wife. I dove headfirst into my academic career, taking on as much as I possibly can. My oldest daughter really pushes herself as well to do the best that she can in all of her classes- it’s just the stubbornness that we face during the school year with our lovely sixth grader.

Will she have to fail at a class and do summer school or possibly repeat a grade in order for this aversion to homework to change? Could she regress even further as a result? I know this will be a topic that her therapist and I will tackle during our next session together. I have to remember that her attitude about academics and her current choices is not a reflection on my parenting skills. Unless I hold her hand and go take the classes side by side with her, these decisions are hers alone and if she needs help, she’s going to have to seek and start accepting it.

Otherwise, the more you avoid whatever challenges you, the more you struggle with even the simple matters- and I only want the best for both of my children.

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