Mom-to-Mom Support/It’s like pulling teeth some days to get work out of my daughter

It’s like pulling teeth some days to get work out of my daughter

Girl whines and pouts


I’m having a really hard time with my 9yo/4th grader in this our second year home. Last year she came home in October and to ease the transition I allowed her to help me with curriculum/material choices whenever it was practical (limited choices, of course!), and the year passed with a child glad/grateful to be home. Her requests were taken into account this year too. Now it’s like pulling teeth some days to get work out of her! She pushes my buttons, whines about every assignment (except Language of God!), refuses to read what she’s asked, and performs written reports/paragraphs with a horrible attitude! She’s making me miserable!

Dear Mom,

Remember that homeschooling does not eliminate the normal parenting challenges that we are going to face. In my mind whether you were talking about curriculum choices or sweeping the kitchen floor, there are going to be those times when children need extra guidance and direction. This is the most elementary part of parenting. Children do not “become” adults just because they reach a certain age. They are diligently trained and corrected with love and attention as they age. Each age presents its own parenting issues.

I am sure you have heard the old phrase Terrible Twos. My pediatrics instructor was quite serious that we must rethink that adage. It was her opinion that to describe the “twos” as terrible was to accept that a child could be bad for the sake of being bad. Her opinion was that the challenges that we face with children actually present themselves in response to a need or a step in the maturing process. For example the two-year-old finds all of life fascinating and they seek to explore and discover all they can. At the same time, in order for them to go forward into this discovery process (a very good aspect of maturing) they must distinguish themselves from their parents. Saying “no” is a way to assert independence. True, this time can be trying, but when seen for what it is, this time can offer great opportunity.

Your daughter is testing the limits of her own ability to accept a healthy work ethic. She is testing herself as much as you. She wants to know if she can successfully talk herself out of work and at the same time not feel guilty for being “lazy.” Imagine yourself resting in the coziness of the morning bed on a cold, rainy day. Now imagine that you have an appointment to keep which will mean that you must get up and get moving. Ohh how easy it is to let our weaker nature talk us into forgetting the appointment and curling up in the covers. But because we have worked through these issues and find that response to be lazy, we get up and do what needs doing.

Your little girl is whining because she wants to see if she can “be lazy” without guilt. If she can talk you into letting her work slide then “you” are the one who has been lazy not her.

Look carefully at the workload and the type of work that you are asking her to do. Are you being realistic in the amount of work that you are expecting? Allow your little girl to give you a positive thought about her work for every negative thought. Make certain that you are setting a holy witness regarding your own work ethic. Be patient with her, because she is, after all, not an adult. In the same respect, do not accept disrespectful or negative behavior. In order for education to be successful, we must address the issues that you have described. This is the most important part of our homeschooling journey. To allow behavior that will ultimately hurt our child’s ability to learn is wrong.

I admire your being concerned about this issue. All too often, we are so busy that we ignore behavior that can be irritating. It is wise that you are addressing this issue now, early on. Pray to know the right words and actions to use with regard to your disciplinary action.

Let us pray together a Memorare for all those parents that lack the creative parenting skills to deal with the day-to-day challenges that present themselves. Let us ask that the tender and loving Jesus empower and inspire these parents so that they are better equipped to parent with love and positive direction.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

About Rita Munn

Rita Munn is a veteran homeschool mother of ten. For many years she was a popular speaker at Catholic homeschooling conferences. Writing has been a passion of hers for as long as she can remember, and she loves to use her writing skills to share her homeschooling experience with other parents. Her “family journal” reflections are featured in CHC’s Educating for Eternity e-newsletter.