October 31, 2012

Too Close for Perspective

Sometimes I wonder if moms are too close to their children to really have an accurate perspective on their children.  Then I wonder if maybe moms are too used to certain behaviors/successes/attitudes to really understand whether or not they are "normal."

Basically, I have a child that really tests my mothering skills/lack of skills and we have struggled since this beautiful girl turned three.  I mean really struggled.  Struggled so much that at one point I went to the temple begging to know WHY this child had come to my home because I did not know how to parent her and thought maybe God had made His first mistake.  I found out why.  It was comforting but still didn't help me know how to parent her.

This year we decided to get some outside help to . . . well, help.  I went to a conveniently close therapist and she said a bunch of stuff that freaked me out.  Your daughter is extremely socially behind, you should put her in public school immediately so she can be socialized by the other kids, you should consider introducing her to things like Justin Bier so she can better fit in, etc.  I went home in tears.  But then I started using my brain and realized that this was the wrong therapist.  Her idea of socially normal and my idea of socially normal were too different for us to be able to work together on helping my daughter with the problems I saw.

Then I took my daughter to another therapist that is annoyingly and inconveniently far away who only works during the day creating a major babysitting dilemma.  However, she met with me and my daughter and said, "We need to work on helping her express her feelings."  Yes!  I tentatively brought up that we homeschool and did she feel my daughter was "years behind socially."  This therapist looked at me in surprise and affirmed what I thought--social skills are not the problem.

We are working together to help my daughter with her problems and at the same time help me learn how to help my daughter.

But one thing really struck me from this whole experience of meeting with these two therapists: both of them went on at length about how bright my daughter is.  Like, really crazy bright.

I've never thought she was really crazy bright.  She talked young, she read early, she's incredibly imaginative and picks things up quickly but . . . so do/are a lot of people.

Where do you lose perspective because you are too close?  The second therapist (the one we are sticking with) said that she rarely saw a child my daughter's age with such a keen visual memory or such a quick grasp of abstract concepts.  She also said that really bright kids often have significant hang-ups in other areas--like an inability to verbalize emotion or with impulse control.

It doesn't really matter if my daughter is a little smart or a lot smart, I just want to help her learn what she needs to learn to be successful and happy.  But I am curious about perspective.  Because I was a certain way growing up, that way feels normal.  Because my siblings were/are a certain way, that feels normal.  Because I have had my children since their births, the things they do feel normal--even when they aren't normal.  And if we do lose perspective on our children, how does that impact our ability to raise them?

How do we make critical decisions like: keep homeschooling to go at their pace, or put them in school to teach them how to handle things and verbalize in a variety of situations?

Why is parenting so stinking hard anyway?  Excuse my language.  Does parenting make anyone else tired--mentally and/or emotionally?

At least these experiences have clarified for me how I feel about some things.  Like my daughter's ongoing ignorance of Justin Bieber's existence.

I'm pretty happy about it.


  1. I have struggled with those same questions! And I think it is WONDERFUL that your daughter doesn't know who Bieber is! :-)

  2. You are doing great, as I can see on your blog. I really wish I could blog like that. You are so good at it. I also love that you take your kids hiking. I haven't been brave enough to go hiking with 5. You are brave. Invite us next time you go on a hike. I love hiking. I have never taken my kids hiking. It scares me. What if they get hurt or lost? What if all of them say, "Mom, carry me!" About the Justin Bieber, my kids don't know who he is, either. I like that my kids don't know a lot of what other kids know. I did have my kids in public school for quite a while. They learned things I wish they hadn't learned, and it was definitely "socialization," but why do people think being just like mainstream-culture-kids is so necessary? It's ridiculous. About the perspective, yeah. I know. It's better not to compare. You are just now learning what most moms have always done--compare! Maybe as a homeschool mom, you haven't. I think it is best NOT to compare! Comparing kids to one another is harmful in so many ways. I also think comparing one mom to another is a bad thing. Just don't do it!

  3. Andrea, my daughter knows who Justin Bieber is (much to my chagrin), and believe me...it doesn't help. Thanks for this post today, I really needed it. It's one of those days when I feel like throwing in the towel and taking the easy way out: PUBLIC SCHOOL.

    Yes, parenting is emotionally & mentally draining, exhausting, life-sucking at times. I think that is by design.

    I agree that sometimes we are so close to the situation that we struggle for perspective. That's when we have no choice but to go to Him who has the long-range vision--the whole picture--and plead for a glimpse.

    Here's to never giving up, acknowledging our weakness, turning to the Giver of life and strength and hope and vision.

  4. Yes - emotionally, physically, and mentally tired!!! But it's all worth it, right?! I could write pages and pages of comments to you about this... my 11 year old daughter sounds extremely similar to your daughter. She was in public school until this year (6th grade) when I took her out to give homeschooling a try. My husband and I contemplated homeschooling her for years but thought it was important to have the socialization the public school system provides... we learned that the only thing she was learning socially was how much she didn't fit in. Her behavior never improved because she was so overwhelmed with it all and her self esteem was really suffering. Anyway, I think the only perspective you need is that of a mother; you love your kids unconditionally... even when they're driving you crazy. ;) My favorite line in your post is, "I just want to help her learn what she needs to learn to be successful and happy." Well said, that's what it all boils down to. :)

  5. I think you are such a good mother to work so hard to understand one of your children and what she needs. One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that I get loads of time to view all sides of my children's personalities. We sent our oldest to public school for about 6 months last year because I had just had our youngest and I wasn't recovering well and our oldest is the kind of child who likes to have projects and busy things to do -- always. :) It was rough and I thought sending her to public school would alleviate the problem. Well, it alleviate the "I need to be busy always" problem as well as presented a few learning experiences I wasn't expecting. I learned that no one can love your child like you can. I learned that my daughter is most certainly an individual and therefore needs an individualized education. I learned that public school teachers are usually given the short end of the stick and that there is never enough time. I most especially learned how much I love my daughter and wanted a "second chance" if you will, to show her that I love her and be a better mother for her.

    By the way, my daughter has no clue who Justin Bieber is, but in those six months she unfortunately learned what the 'b' word is. I'm not sure which is worse... :)

  6. Good for you for going to a therapist. It really does help to get an outside perspective. And I could have told you your daughter was exceptionally bright. :)a