I labeled my son. I called him a problem child. And, of all places, I did it at a Power of Moms retreat. The minute the words came out of my mouth, I wished I could crawl under my chair. What could I possibly have been thinking? I can tell you, I’ve done a lot of thinking since that moment.
It’s true, I struggle with one son. I struggle to know how to motivate and discipline him. It’s a constant battle to get homework finished and stay on task. Finishing chores and being kind to siblings is always an issue. He requires a lot more of my time than the other children.
For a long time, I’ve looked at this struggle as a fault in our relationship, like a knot in an otherwise straight length of rope. Each struggle or knot seemed to be wasted time and effort. The knots were irritating and frustrating and I viewed it all as one mass of problems.
I’ve been thinking about my attitude and how I’ve been approaching this situation. I realize that those knots can actually be beneficial, and are not just problems. I can build something beautiful out of the situation. Each time I have to spend extra time working on homework or explaining consequences, I have the opportunity to build stronger ties and knots. As those knots build upon each other, our relationship also grows stronger and tighter. In fact, it will actually result in a more secure and unique relationship.
Knots In A Rope
I remember trying to climb the rope in elementary school. It was a big, thick rope, tied to something near the ceiling of the gym. I’m not sure what it was anchored to because I never made it that high. What I do remember is balancing on the big knot at the bottom of the rope, thinking, if knots like this went all the way up the rope, I could climb this rope no problem.
Challenges with individual children can be used as knots to propel us higher in our relationship with them. I remember one particular afternoon when my son and I were really struggling to get math homework finished. He had all but given up and had convinced himself that he couldn’t do it and was just dumb. My patience with the whole situation was wearing thin. With great effort, I kept my cool and quietly encouraged him to finish the last few problems.
By the time he had finished, he finally understood the math concept. I made sure to reinforce to him that he can do hard things and I was proud of him. He grinned at me and I knew that he believed it. That afternoon turned into a knot that we could both stand on the next time he struggled with his math homework. It also strengthened my relationship with him and increased his confidence; not only in his own abilities to figure things out but that I would always be there for him.
Knots as an Anchor
Anyone who does needlework knows how important a knot can be. There have been numerous times when I’m finishing a hem or stitching a small hole in a sock or shirt and my thread pulls through because I haven’t knotted it securely. It’s important to create secure anchor knots with our children. They need to know that they are anchored and safe and that our relationship with them will not fall through. Challenges with our children turn into anchor knots when we work through problems and come out better friends. When a confrontation with a child is followed up with love and appreciation, an anchor knot is formed that will strengthen the relationship.
Knots Create Beauty
I recently finished a fillet crochet piece. I’ve never attempted this type of crochet before but had a grand goal of making an heirloom featuring our family name. It took a lot of time to find the right pattern and to figure out how to translate the pattern to my fingers and thread. Slowly but surely, I tied my first anchor knot and made my first row of single chains. The next row was built upon the previous row, using each stitch before as a foundation.
My husband remarked, “Wow, that’s a lot of knots.” And it certainly was a lot of knots. Knots I had pulled out time and time again to fix problems and work through patterns I didn’t understand. It took quite some time, but I finished it and all those knots turned into something magnificent. I couldn’t have imagined that something so beautiful could have come from just a bunch of knots. The investment of time and effort transformed the mass of knots into an heirloom, something to be treasured for a very long time.
Each knot, each problem that we confront can be made into something beautiful. It takes time, diligence and an unwavering faith that what we are doing is worth it. We are building our family and it is certainly worth our time, effort, and diligence in working through struggles. Those knots, when used the right way, make us stronger and more beautiful and create family relationships that will be treasured for a very long time.
QUESTION: Can you identify any negative knots that may need a little work?
CHALLENGE: Look for opportunities in your relationships to turn challenges into positive “knots.”