Being Your Kid’s P.A.R.A. (Part 4)

In my last blog, I explained how we can’t help our loved ones alone  as I told the story about my middle schooler.  To help us, during Ian’s IEP (Individual Education Plan) the deaf itinerant teacher got personal.

She explained that her son was very much like Ian.  Upon encountering the middle school free-fall, she had him do his homework at the kitchen table in her presence.  She made him call other kids or return to school when he did not bring home the correct material. She held the leash tight, until about two years later at the end of his eighth grade year when everything fell into place.  Her Arrangements had enabled him to develop the valuable habits of success.  Today her son leads other men in his role in the military, noted in his unit for his outstanding organizational and life skills.

With the endorsement to be a temporary helicopter-style parent to our wayward Ian, Joe, I and Ian’s para-educator Jenny dug in arranging a life of full accountability for Ian.  We communicated with Jenny and Ian’s teachers to make sure he had the materials we needed and that we were aware of his upcoming exams and clear on our expectations to assist him in preparing for those.  Additional arranging included the uncharacteristic move of having Ian attend his own parent-teacher conference with us.  While gentle and compassionate, his teachers generously commented on Ian’s strengths,, held him accountable, and clarified with him his future expectations.

Admittedly, at times with our busy schedules  some requirements slipped through the gap. Ian would find a way to  sabotage his academic success.  I Paid Attention that Ian had his eye on two of his close friends who were doing even worse than him in school.  He expressed worry that those friends might not advance.  It seemed he feared what would happen to those relationships if he did well in school.

Steadily the grades went up.  Ian did extremely well on difficult tests.  Putting a little more time  into homework produced good marks.  With the rising grades came the surge of self-sabotaging behaviors:  assignments not turned in,  needed materials in the backpack, etc. But this time, we had made the proper Arrangements.  A missed or incomplete assignment prompted Ian’s para to keep him in  for recess or lunch to complete it.  I was on the PowerSchool, holding Ian accountable for unacceptable work.

By using the Mary at the Wedding at Cana approach to parenting (paying attention, responding, and arranging), Ian is succeeding despite himself.  With three weeks left in the school year he is within striking distance  to getting all As and Bs. As we count down weeks Ian gets As and Bs on all tests and assignments, permitting him to play on the Xbox on the weekend.  Checking PowerSchool every weekday embeds my daily routine.

I can taste what every Mary at the Wedding of Cana Arranger loves.   My child’s external reality (good grades) are challenging and transforming his inner reality (that he’s successful, smart, and an excellent student).  With more Arranging and life experience the internal and external truths will be one, and Ian will be well on his way to becoming his best for God.

The Catholic Women’s Guide to Healthy Relationships Tip:  When a loved one is floundering, make sure you are clear on what you should and shouldn’t do and take action.