I have navigated the preteen years three times before and perhaps the last two children were so easy that I became complacent about the challenges we face as parents to raise a preteen in today’s society. My eleven-year-old daughter is pretty much amazing in many aspects of her life. She is incredibly intelligent, she is a multi award winner in her specialist area of God given talent and she has mastered the art of being a social butterfly. My daughter is able to successfully engage and interact with adults and children alike, she loves to read, she’s learning to play the saxophone and she consistently does an amazing job with her chores at home. So what is the issue I hear you ask? My daughter is by far the most disorganised and untidy child I’ve be blessed to have.
Unlike the three children I had before her, two of which are in their twenties and one is fifteen years-old, my eleven year-old is a whirlwind of chaos. Prior to her arriving home from school in the afternoons, I am able to take in a deep breath of tranquility and admiration as I work around our clean and tidy home in addition to managing the needs of my disabled two-year-old son. As soon as late afternoon approaches and my daughter arrives home, the serenity and quietude of the home transforms into a plethora of turbulence and chaos. A trail of possessions can be found starting at the front door (her saxophone, shoes, and school bag) leading into the kitchen (her blazer, lunch bag and letters) to on the stairs, (creative origami structures) and all around the home leading into her bedroom on the top floor. She never empties her lunch bag when she gets home and so she ends up having incredible pressure on her shoulders every morning and she gingerly and leisurely skirts around the house organising herself.
We tell her every evening to unpack and wash her lunch bag and flask. We tell her to do her homework and to pack her bag for the following day. We tell her to check that she has enough school uniform for the following day and that everything is ready for the perfect morning we hope to one day experience. Yet, it never happens. Don’t get me wrong, she will wake up early in the morning at 5:45am prompt. But she will set a bath (although she has been told to shower) she’ll potter around the house and her bedroom organising this, that, and the other. It is the most frustrating thing I have to experience in the 24 hours God has blessed us with each day. She is consistently late to leave the house for school, she will always have an answer for everything and she appears to miss the value and importance of being on time and being organised, despite it being incarnated and drilled into her daily.
I find it such a struggle. I know that between her dad and I we should perhaps micro-manage her and ensure that she has completed every task laid out before her. I know we should probably implement a visual task list for her to see, I know this. But deep down, I just wish she was just like her siblings before her who I have never had to micro-manage in this way. Her 15 year-old brother is a true delight. I have never had to ask him if he has completed his homework; he always comes to me and explains that he needs extra time to himself to complete his work. He always has the equipment needed for the day. He wakes up, gets organised and leaves home on time. He knows exactly what is required of him and even goes above and beyond expectations. He studies like crazy, he is sociable, he enjoys family time and eating together in the evenings. I NEVER, EVER have to tell him to be organised for school and I never have done. He is literally a dream child. I suppose I just expected my daughter to be the same. How wrong! How different and what a challenge!
I have been racking my brain over this for days now, trying to find strategies to help my daughter become better organised and to experience the value for herself. I watched an amazing talk by Jon Gordon on a platform called The Parenting Pivot Challenge and I have been so encouraged. Instead of looking at my daughters challenges, I’ve decided to focus on my own challenges in parenting. I’ve recognised that I’m pretty much a ‘transactional parent’ meaning that when my children are great, I’m great towards them. But when they’re challenging, I’m very emotional and angry towards them. I’ve learnt that these are the very moments when I need to exercise positivity and hope in my children. I need to use those challenging moments to instil love and kindness. It is very important for me to recognise that my daughter, like many children today in 2020 are living in an unprecedented time. They’ve experienced a great deal of change, they have so many restrictions placed upon them and they lack freedom. In addition to this, we cannot forget nor deny the presence of the evil one Satan. His influence is always there, attacking and challenging the precious minds of our children. We are all in a spiritual warfare and this should never be forgotten, it is our duty to remind our children that the negative thoughts they have are not of their own. In all honesty, why would they ‘choose’ to have bad thoughts? Why would any of us choose this? This is the work of the enemy. Instead we can challenge the negative thoughts with thoughts of positivity and hope, reflecting on scripture and positive affirmations.
I want my daughter to ascertain her own ‘why’ her own reasons for benefitting from being organised and wanting to be on time. I plan to talk to her about this and perhaps even have it up as a vision board. I honestly believe that once she establishes this for herself, it will no longer be about mummy moaning and complaining all the time, it will be about her achieving and succeeding in the goals she has set for herself.
I have learnt that I do not need to overwhelm her with the big picture and the ultimate goal of being super organised and on time. I just need to encourage her to win and get through today. If she can be successful at organising herself the night before, she’ll more than likely win at being organised in the morning. If she achieves that; then it’s a success. I honestly believe that the more successes she has, it will spill over into achieving further successes. I am so confident that she will do this, I’m hopeful that the peace and tranquility of the daytime in her absence; will continue into peace and tranquility in her presence. There will be a day when the pathway leading from the front door into our kitchen will remain saxophone, shoes and school bag feee. There will be a day when the kitchen chair is no longer a closet for her blazer and that her lunch bag will be emptied and cleaned for the next day. It will come.
My daughter needs to know that she is able to overcome her challenges. She needs positive affirmations and reminders that she is organised, she is on time and she is able to achieve and accomplish these things. Whilst it may not be completely true now, there are some areas of her life that she is always on time with and consistently organised in. Her work ethos is phenomenal and whenever she is given a responsibility (outside of the home) she excels in it. So this tells me that she is able and that I just need to keep encouraging her.
I will write positive messages of encouragement on her (homemade) bedroom chalk board. I think I’ll start with the words ‘I can’t’ but cross out the ‘t’ at the end, showing that she can!
I will use the scripture that Jon Gordon shared Galatians 6:9 which reads, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”Galatians 6:9 NLT
I want to teach all of my children to keep going, that they can rise above their challenges. I want to remind myself of this also. I have to set the example and be a positive parent, if I emulate this behaviour, they too will hopefully follow suit.
I often ask myself the question “when the children are older and they reflect back on their childhood, what memories and recollections do I want them to have?”
I want them to have memories of positive experiences to share with their future spouses and children. I want for them to recall great pearls of wisdom and to talk about the beauty of their childhood. I know I have so much to work on for myself to become a better parent but it is never too late. I’m thankful for these ‘growth opportunities’ and I hope that you can be blessed and encouraged by this.
Q. Do you have my struggles with your children?
Q. If so, what strategies do you use to help your children?