What My Son’s Homework Taught Me

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The following blog was written by James Rhoades, a certified member of the John Maxwell Team. He and his family reside in Richmond, VA.

Yes, school in session and along with school work comes homework. This means most evenings I’m assisting my son with his homework. Now I love my children as I’m sure that you love yours but when it comes to homework that requires him to write sentences all of my patience seems to eek out of me. It has more to do with his explanation about why he did what he did than anything else.

Upon reviewing his work recently the words went through the bottom line and the spacing was completely non-existent. Have you ever seen a word that consists of 50 characters? So I asked my son, “Do the words have the correct spacing?” His face took on the look of one who was in trouble and his initial answer was that of hesitation. You know the one where they want to say yes but second guess doing that because they know something is wrong however saying no also means they will have to explain why they did what they did.

I’m sure you’ve been through this song and dance yourself with your little ones. His reasoning for the lack of space between the words was that there wasn’t enough space to put all of the words on the line. Alas his letters were larger than they needed to be. I of course pointed that out and asked who was in control of the size of the letters. Writing this is like reading a book or watching a movie the true struggle of the moment seems to pass by so much swifter than when it actually took place. Well I’m not sure if it happens hours later or in the moments after we have these discussions with our children but I began to reflect upon our exchange. I had pointed out to my son that he was the one in control of writing the words and determining the space that was between them.

What stuck in my mind later that night though was “You are in control.” I tell you nothing stays on your mind like the words you give to your children trying to direct, assist, and correct them because you know that they are looking at you. The task before me each day may not be to utilize the correct spelling and or ensure that my lettering is not larger than it should be. However whether or not I am saving and investing money, exercising, eating healthy, and so much more are well within my control and the question is what am I doing with that control.

Yes, control or better translated leadership of oneself is the greatest challenge before you and me. Here are a few tips we can all use to ensure that we are effectively leading ourselves based on my son’s homework.

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You may have noticed that I used the word growth instead of goal. That’s because goals have an end point while growth continues on and at the end of the day we want our children to be better than us in every way possible. Let’s continue to grow with them. Lastly, as a quick reminder for the tips I provided remember that our children’s schools have a PA system that is used to direct and inform the students and we can model that in our mind keeping our focus on the growth we desire and leading ourselves where we desire to go.

James runs his own blog at Rhoades 2 Enrich and his LinkedIN can be found here.

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