(Inside: Parenting is hard, and you are tired. Is parenting as hard as they say it is? Sometimes – but, it’s so worth it.)
I had an “aha” moment about perfectionism in both teaching and mom life.
Like most teachers, I work with some challenging high school students. These kids carry so much outside baggage; when they tell me their stories, I’m overwhelmed for them.
But I love it – I love the challenge of building teacher-student relationships, helping students to see how amazing they are, and building their confidence as they learn more about themselves through education. Truly, I have the best job ever.
So, when a student resists engaging in all the good things around them or continually self-sabotages, it hits me right in the heart. It can be so frustrating. It’s the same for parenting my three sons.
However, I recently read something so incredibly helpful regarding working with teens when teaching (and parenting) gets hard.
I’m working hard on getting my 60 quarter credits past my master’s degree (I want that raise!), so I’ve been taking courses and reading a ton. The books are brimming with expert advice on education. They outline, from different angles, how to create a more engaging classroom and motivate all students.
It’s all well-researched, good stuff, but do you know what sentence stopped me completely in my tracks and gave me the most encouragement?
Hold the phone. Do you mean to tell me that all these experts in teaching who have well-researched-data-driven suggestions to make our schools excellent are telling me that working with teens is sometimes just simply going to be hard no matter what?
I brought the book down to my lap, looked up, and physically let out a sigh of relief.
In working with teens whether it’s in my classroom or in parenting I can do all-the-things “right,” and things will never work out “perfectly.” I need to remember that I’m around human beings with undeveloped frontal lobes (rational thinking) or overdeveloped parts of the brain where all the high emotions are stored. Of course, there will be frustrating moments.
If I go to eat an apple, it’s going to taste like an apple. If I’m going to work with teenagers, they’re going to act like teenagers which means there will be highs and lows.
Frustrations are normal, expected, and even okay. It doesn’t mean that I need a whole new string of suggestions for better teaching and motivational strategies, I just need to know that frustrations are part of the job and carry on. Thank you very much.
I love that.
Because, when I hear something is supposed to sometimes be frustrating, I approach it differently.
I bring to the table extra patience and resilience and perseverance. I expect to use those qualities, so I don’t let the frustrations so intensely rock my world. I can better set my emotions aside, evaluate a situation, and more confidently move towards a solution.
I can shrug off the discouragements I cannot control, then shift my focus to how I am going to react, what I can control, and the attitude I bring to the table.
Frustrations never have to steal away my professionalism, my personal joy, or my ability to love my job. Frustrations do not mean I have lost hope in the student and will quit trying; they just tell me that some days are frustrating and that is an expected part of being a teacher.
I don’t always have to figure out the “why,” I just need to persevere and often, keep doing what I am doing.
Just like life.
Life is full of frustrations – no one is exempt from its cruelties. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is our fault. It also doesn’t mean that we need to read a bunch of self-help books or change what we are doing.
It does not mean we need to beat ourselves up for the things we cannot change. It does not mean that we should drive ourselves crazy by gripping tighter and trying to control what we can’t.
It doesn’t mean that we always have to understand “why is this happening to me” or “why do bad things even happen at all?”
Frustrations don’t have to steal away our joy. Discouragement does not mean that we aren’t good enough, and it should not rob us of our self-worth.
Sometimes, all we need to do is remind ourselves that frustrations are normal.
We cling to God’s hope knowing this he is always for us working in our lives in the most magnificent of ways.
And then we simply…
“Parenting is hard!” Read the full thrive in difficult relationships and situations series
Why can’t I get along with this person, I’m good with people. People are my thing. Why has this year been filled with not this difficult relationship, but hard relationships with an “s?”
I had a year when relationships with three people I cared about unraveled. I had just come out of healing from a miscarriage and being cut from a job I loved (student numbers were down and they cut the lowest tenured teacher). And just when I thought I’d put my life back together and found my way, here I was struggling with not situations, but people.
What a season.
It caused me to explore situations and relationships and figure out how to find peace, healing, and forgiveness in tough times.
THRIVE IN DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS & SITUATIONS SERIES
I’m in a Funk: A Powerful Mindset to Overcome Your Challenge
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
How to Deal with Difficult People
Moms, How to Prepare for a Fight
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.