Wednesday, February 28, 2018

It's a Heart Issue

So I recently came to the realization that my oldest has a rebellious spirit. And figuring out how to parent that issue has been a struggle.

You see, it's not a very overt type of rebellion, which is why it snuck under our radar for so long. Because the truth is this has been going on and growing for a couple of years.

Oh, and she's nine. Nine. I really didn't think we'd have to deal with these issues for a few more years at least. But nope, here we are.

So how is it manifesting that it managed to go unnoticed for so long? Well, it basically is manifesting as her not wanting to do anything that I want her to do, participate in any activities that I suggest, etc. No matter how much she enjoys them, she will beg to quit, tell me how "stupid" it is, etc. if it's something I suggested or something she knows I like.

We only figured it out because of her reaction to starting beginning band. She knows how strongly I feel that band is a worthwhile activity. I have long said that I want my children to at least try it. So now the time comes. She dug in her heels hard. After much discussion I finally got out of her why she didn't want to do band. Her response? Twofold.

"I don't want anyone telling me what to do, not even the band director."
"I don't want to be like you."


It was while discussing the issue with Jason and some mom-friends that I had an a-ha moment and realized that it really had nothing to do with band, because this is actually the next step in a pattern of behavior.

Reading. Jena used to love to read. As in would literally read the dictionary. Around age 6 she very suddenly started hating to read. I was so confused and I never was able to figure out why the sudden change. But guess who loves to read, has told her kids how she used to read a ton when she was a kid, and strongly encouraged Jena to read. That's right, all me.

Girl Scouts. I did Girl Scouts when I was younger and really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, so obviously I wanted my girls to try it to. Jena started at age 6. I stayed for meetings when I was able, as did most of the moms. I saw her having a blast, having so much fun, learning neat things, making friends. I know she enjoyed it. But guess what? Every chance she got she asked when she could quit. I thought maybe it was just the troop, so we switched to a different leader. Same reaction. I saw her having a great time week after week, but almost every week she would tell me how much she hated it and ask when she could quit.

Homeschool Community Groups. We have belonged to three different homeschool community groups in the four years that we've been homeschooling. With all three she would have a blast, would learn a lot, made lots of friends, but... you guessed it, she'd declare that it was "stupid", ask if we have to keep going, etc. Oh yeah, and guess whose idea it was. You guessed it. Mine.

And now Band. She chose snare drum as her instrument. She says she wants to learn how to play. After her first practice she talked non-stop about what she learned and the new friends she made. If you ask her she will tell you she likes playing the drums. But she will also tell you flat out that she doesn't want anyone telling her what to do. And of course, it was my idea.

So now, for contrast, let's look at Soccer. Her idea. I honestly didn't think she would like it, was totally surprised that she chose it. But she did, and it was 100% her idea. And guess what? She loves it. She recently asked me if there was any way she could do soccer five days a week instead of three.

Do you see the pattern? With the first three activities, no matter how I worded it, how much I tried to pull it out of her, she could never tell me why she didn't like the activity. She could never explain why she didn't like something that she actually seemed to enjoy so much.

So when Jason & I were discussing the band issue, we both kinda realized that all of these things have nothing to do with the activities themselves, but they all actually have to do with her having a heart of rebellion. It's a heart issue.

It comes out in little ways as well. Fighting against doing chores that she knows she has to do. Refusing to follow directions when we are schooling and making up her own way to do things instead. Being disrespectful to me in words & actions. The list goes on & on.

So now the issue is how to parent her thru this. How to address the heart issue, lead her as her mother, and stop this rebellion before it goes from being very subtle to very overt

Suggestions welcome! LOL.

What parenting issue are you dealing with at the moment?

1 comment:

violajack said...

Disclaimer, my oldest is 5. I have no experience parenting a 9 year old. I have however, taught many of them privately.

My 2 cents - it sounds less like rebellion and more like a cry for more independence. You can’t tell her what to do in soccer because it’s her thing, you just cheer her on. Those other things, you can tell her how to do them, how to practice drums, what to read, which badge to work on next. And homeschooling - that’s basically you telling her all the things to learn. Of course, I may be off base and you may already give her a lot of input on how these things play out.

But, this is the age when kids learn to delay gratification. It’s another level of self awareness and an opportunity for more self-directed work. This is the age when parents become optional in lessons for me. This is the age where I give students more input on what they work on. I ask more questions in lessons to help them become more aware of their own playing. I ask them how they think they can fix things, or improve, or what they think they can do better.

I wonder if things might go more smoothly if Jena could take a more active role in the planning of the things she has to do? Could you work with her to put together a weekly list of homeschooling goals and then guide her towards a weekly plan of attack, eventually letting her take over more and more of the planning and just helping her stay accountable to staying on plan. Keep your comments towards band very neutral. Make sure practice is on the daily plan, but don’t interfere. Defer completely to her band teacher - what has your teacher asked you to work on this week? But I’m totally on the “music is a subject that must be studied just like math and English” train.

Like my earlier disclaimer - I have taught a lot of 9 year olds, but never parented one. I hope some of this is helpful. I’ll keep you guys in our prayers. I’m sure I’ll find myself in a similar boat in, oh, about 4 years.

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