Prescription for a Rough Patch

Every now and then one of my kids will go through a rough patch where it seems like most of our time is spent struggling with each other. There are lots of things as a parent that I can do at one of these times. Often, I need to address what the underlying character issue is. We may need to reassess what we are doing in school. We may need to approach whatever the issue is differently.

By far though my favorite thing to do is to take the kid I am struggling with out on a “date”. That might sound counterintuitive, like I’m rewarding bad behavior. I don’t say, “Hey, kid, because you’ve been giving me a hard time about doing school, let’s go out for ice cream!” That might backfire. Instead I just tell them I’d like to spend some special time together and we make a plan to go out.

The goal is to repair the relationship. With homeschooling, the parent-child relationship can easily get mixed up with the teacher-student relationship. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the person who is making you do your math is a person who also loves you. Or that the person sulking about having to do their math is someone that you love. The goal of going out together is to remember that “Hey, I like that person. Even though she makes me learn fractions, she’s actually kind of fun.” It’s like a reset button.

My only rule for this strategy is to  NOT talk about whatever the issue is. The goal is to just spend time together and have fun. You don’t want to make the time turn into a lecture or a painful discussion. You want to just enjoy each other.

As you might imagine, we’re going through one of those rough patches. I took the particular child out for breakfast this morning before church. We went to Panera and sat on a comfy couch in front of the fire and drank coffee and ate bagels. We talked about music and books and movies and the huge amount of sugar on the cinnamon crunch bagel.

We did not talk about fractions. We’ll have to do that again tomorrow. But for today it was good to just be together and remember that this is one of the main reasons why we choose to homeschool in the first place.


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