With four children to parent while serving in an inner-city Spanish branch, Jenny Pocock (alias jendoop) hardly has time for gardening, reading, blogging, painting, and ignoring housework. She’s always up for something new, as proven by moving with her family from Utah, to Indiana, to Colorado, to Pennsylvania. In this spirit of adventure she’s earning her degree from BYU’s BGS program with her eye on becoming a psychologist, while being a stay at home mom. Her husband is the mix too, he’s really the one that keeps her on track. And he says she can’t skydive. Read more of her current adventures here.
Before we begin, let’s all say a silent prayer for my children and their future therapists. I promised myself that I would never post something personal about them – but here I am, doing just that. It is justified… I think.
My 14-year-old daughter had problems in her math class a few months ago. After talking it over we came to the heart of the matter; she didn’t understand a concept when it was explained in class and wouldn’t ask for outside help. This was especially troubling to my husband, who works in a career that is all about math. The man has been waiting years to share any of his useless- I mean, amazing math knowledge with his children. Now there was an opportunity and his daughter was depriving him of it.
To solve our daughter’s problem, we explained the many resources available to her and she promised to avail herself of them the next time she had some confusion.
A few months went by, fine and dandy, until we got a midterm notice in the mail. Yes, it was math again. Frustratingly enough, as we spoke to her, it was the same issue. She had a concept that eluded her but she didn’t ask for help. This time we felt we had to make the concept, of asking for help, stick by providing consequences.
This struck me as strange when I thought about it later that night. Consequences for NOT asking for help? Was I punishing my child for practicing self-reliance?
We seem to be taught at every turn in the church about self-reliance. Elder Marion G. Romney said, “Man cannot be an agent unto himself if he is not self-reliant. Herein we see that independence and self-reliance are critical keys to our spiritual growth. Whenever we get into a situation which threatens our self-reliance, we will find our freedom threatened as well. If we increase our dependence, we will find an immediate decrease in our freedom to act.”
Just days after this last incident with my oldest daughter, my younger daughter, through tears and pain, admitted to me that she had forged my signature on a test that required a parent’s signature. (Getting a parent’s signature is usual procedure, the test did not have a bad score.) She explained to me that she was just trying to get it done quickly and I had been out of town the night she needed the signature. It became a sweet golden moment as I taught her about repentance, but again, left me asking the question about self-reliance.
When something like this crops up in the lives of my children I begin to look at myself, I being their largest example (being a stay-at-home mom, they are just around me the most). And sure enough, I found an example of being self-reliant, to a fault, in my own life.
Two years ago I gave birth to my fourth child. Since then my health has not been the same. No doctor, specialists included, has been able to definitively diagnose what ails me. While I struggle with this trial many people have made the usual statement heard in wards across the world, of, “Let me know what I can do to help.”
I have only once taken someone up on it. That is ridiculous.
Just like my husband is aching to use his skills to help my daughter excel in school I know there are many around me who love me and sincerely want to do something to help. But I have deprived them of the opportunity in the name of self-reliance.
Are we missing something when we don’t ask for help? Can you really be self-reliant to a fault or am I just taking up my cross and bearing it? Tell me of a time when you laid down your burden – was it a sacrifice of your self-reliance or only blessings? Where does our reliance on Christ fit into all of this?