I am increasingly interested in the way that our children deal with the challenges they face. Our eight year-old son is learning long division. The first time I handed him a worksheet with the new concept, he took one look at the new problems on the page and told me, “I don’t know how to do this.” He then proceeded to hand the worksheet back to me. Over the last few weeks I have continued to repeat the process with him. I remind him that he does not need to know the answer as soon as he looks at it. He does however, need to be willing to work out the problem and believe that he is capable of finding the right solution. Many times he does not want to take the time to work through the difficult problem. I don’t know too many people that do.
Our six year-old son is learning to add and to distinguish what number comes before another number in sequence. For an adult, this seems like an easy task. When asked what number comes before seventy, for an adult the answer is simple. Not for a six year-old. It is much easier for our son to identify what number comes next, but when asked to identify what number comes before, he struggles with frustration. I often feel the same struggle when a task requires me to back up instead of move forward.
Our two-year old daughter will take out everything necessary to dress herself, play, color, or prepare a simple meal. She is incredibly capable to do whatever she wants to do, even pushing chairs and climbing to reach those things that appear out of her reach. It is when I ask her to pick up and put away everything necessary to dress herself, play, color, or prepare a simple meal, that she becomes incredibly incapable. The chair that she managed to push across the room suddenly becomes “too heavy.” Every book on the floor that she took out is now “too heavy” as well. She will stand pouting at the task, much like I do inside when I have to do a task that I don’t feel like doing. I remind her, “It is not too heavy. You are capable of doing it. In fact, you have done it many times already.”
Watching our children deal with their challenges teaches me so much about the way that I deal with challenges of my own. As I remind them that they are more than capable, that they need to work through the difficult problems and to take a step backward, God reminds me of the very same truths in my own life. God will use every challenge to teach us something, including the challenge of parenting. Whether we learn what He is trying to teach us, is what matters the most.
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.