2 Ways I Crush the Fear of Mom-Failure
The Phone Call From the Teacher
Calling all Moms! I wrote this one for you…and me!
I was working in my home office yesterday when my cell phone rang. I don’t usually pick up the phone when I don’t recognize the number, but that little green answer button was too great a temptation. When I answered, this is what I heard, “Hi Mrs. King. This is Joseph’s social studies teacher…”
I froze. My heart starting beating fast and I became anxious.
You see, two weeks before school started my kids asked to go to public school after homeschooling for seven years. I wasn’t worried about whether they were “ready,” I was afraid that maybe I hadn’t gotten them ready. I was afraid I that I might have failed to get them ready academically. Jacob had been homeschooled since third grade and would enter tenth grade, and Joseph hadn’t EVER been to public school.
As I gathered all their records together, I gained confidence knowing we had worked hard. But my hope shattered on the ground they day I took Joseph to registration. When they handed him a Math placement test, I glanced at it quickly and knew the problems were not familiar to him.
Five minutes later, he approached the guidance counselor with a downcast face saying, “I don’t recognize any of this.” I wanted to throw up as much as he did. Five minutes later, we discovered he’d been given the wrong test, but the new one they distributed wasn’t much easier.
Fear and lies rose in my belly. In that moment, I felt like an ultimate failure and that feeling intensified on the way home when he asked, “Mom, why exactly did you teach me Math so differently?”
You see, when you’re a homeschool parent, you have all control to determine how your kids learn and to choose the best curriculum for them, but this doesn’t always translate into the requirements for public school.
So, when the teacher first called, I panicked. But here’s how the phone call played out.
“Hi Mrs.King. This is Joseph’s social studies teacher. I just wanted to give you a call to tell you how thankful I am for Joseph.”
Me: What is she saying? Thankful?
“He is always so helpful and encouraging to the other students. When he finishes his work, he always asks the other students if they understand or need help.”
Me: Okay, Sharie. Listen to her. This isn’t a bad phone call. She is saying good things. You haven’t failed your kid.
“Also, I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am with your son. I have never heard him tease or make fun of any of the other students. So I wanted to call and tell you how thankful I am and how proud you should be!”
With my heart full, and a little dumbstruck, I responded, “Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for taking the time to call and encourage me. Wow. Yes, Joseph really does have a tender heart.”
Failure is an Opportunity to Teach
I was browsing in an airport bookstore one day when I saw a book entitled, “If I Had A Parenting Do Over: 7 Vital Changes I’d Make.” I bought it because I wanted to hear what advice someone “done” with parenting would have to offer me.
Here is one of my favorite pieces of advice from Jonathan McKee, “effective Parenting requires humility and teachability”
Parenting is hard. If we’re honest, most of us are probably just trying to do it better; better than we’ve been doing it, better than we are presently doing it, or better than our parents did it. Am I right?
If I’m honest, my parenting is often motivated by these two fears:
I don’t want to mess up my kids.
I don’t want to fail.
What are your main motivators? I’m not talking about Jesus because we all want to please Jesus. Why are you afraid to fail your kids? When you are interacting with your kids, why are you afraid to let your imperfection show?
Are you afraid to disappoint them?
Are you afraid that if they see you fail, you will lose control?
Are you afraid your failure will give them an excuse to disrespect, disobey, or follow your poor example?
As I ask you these questions, I know I am taking a risk that you will bristle up and tune me out, but if we don’t take the time to discern why we are afraid to fail, we will continue to parent out of fear instead of freedom.
When Jacob was young, he used to get bent out of the frame when I wouldn’t drive home according to his directions. He believed his way was the most efficient. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to convince him that I was the adult, and I was right.
I became more and more frustrated, until I realized being an adult in this situation may not mean proving I was right, but rather listening and adhering. I knew my way was faster, but in the end, what was my being stubborn accomplishing or teaching my son?
I decided to choose humility and teachability. I started asking him to take charge of the directions. This not only taught him to learn his surroundings, but also showed him I was willing to listen and submit to his desires when appropriate.
Failure is an Opportunity to Bond
Have you ever been afraid to let your kids see you fail because you don’t want to lose control? I mean, if they think you’re not perfect, won’t they stop doing what you say?
I’ve been afraid to mess up in front of my kids; to stop being their hero. But when my son Jacob pointed out a failure I couldn’t deny, and I was faced with a choice. I could lie and try to change his perception. I could get mad and scare him out of drawing attention to my faults. Or, I could confess and let him see me in all my imperfect glory.
I chose confession and it has been a game-changer in my relationship with my kids. Because Clayton and I are willing to confess our sins, they are too (even though it’s not always easy).
If your goal is to keep the appearance of perfect, perhaps your kids will hold a moment of failure over your head. But, I truly believe kids mirror the humility and teachability of their parents (not always, but eventually).
Rules, boundaries and discipline are important. We are called to be parents, not best friends with our kids. But according to a survey conducted by Jonathan, McKee, “parents overwhelmingly look back in regret and wish they would have spent more time just hanging out with their kids….We think strict boundaries will help teach our kids values. But if we put too much weight on boundaries and neglect boundaries, then our kids won’t feel safe to open up to us and we’ll miss key opportunities to walk through life with them and teach them discernment. In other words, when Mom or Dad doesn’t have a relationship with their kids, their kids tend to glean values and behaviors from other sources” (p.14,22).
So many people are claiming to be free, but are we really?
Freedom doesn’t come from a proclamation, but from action. I know that prideful feeling of not wanting my kids see my failure, but I also know the freedom of confessing my imperfection. I know the freedom of telling them I messed up, or that I’m afraid. And I know the freedom of having them pray for my weaknesses.
It’s your choice to be free. You can hide behind your failure, or use failure as a tool to bond with your kids.
© 2018 by Sharie King. All rights reserved.