The president of the Rocky Mountain Branch’s International Dyslexia Association (IDA) said something at her presentation at the Longmont library on Tuesday that has been percolating in my heart and mind these past few days:

“A mom’s job is to make her child feel loved and joyful.”

The comment was in response to a parent telling a roomful of people what she and her husband were now doing at home to support their child who had recently been diagnosed with dyslexia.  The child’s school had given the parents Skill and Drill worksheets for the child to complete with the parents at home.  To the school’s credit, they suggested ways for the parents to coach their child on the assignment, including when to set a timer (so the child was aware of her fluency speed) and how many words to practice each night.

“I don’t know about you,” Elenn, the president of the local IDA chapter said, “but isn’t your kid exhausted by the time she gets home?” She talked about her own son (who has dyslexia) coming home at 6 p.m., tired. In a joking manner, she rambled about kids coming home and having to do work that was a struggle for them – work that made them that much more cranky, and likely to blow up at…you guessed it…mom or dad.

That’s when she said it.

A mom’s job.

She mentioned that she “didn’t want to offend anyone.”  But that was how she saw it – a mom’s job was to make her kid(s) feel loved and joyful.

She talked about not being an “atta way parent,” which she defined as someone who kept saying “atta way” when a child accomplished something. When a child learned to ride a bike, “atta way Johnny!”  When a child spelled a word correctly, “atta way Sally!”  Instead, she saw herself as a parent who noticed and praised improvements over time.  “Wow. You remembered that difficult vocabulary word,” she said, “last week, you got two of them correct.  This week, four!”  I appreciated her reminder.  It’s something we do at the Martial Arts Academy…a foundation of the program, actually.

But I still kept thinking about her “mom’s job” comment.

When I first heard it, I noticed something in my body shift.  It was one of those feelings when you realize something big is happening,  When there’s a release of sorts.  A put-you-in-the-moment type of feeling.

Interestingly, she made this comment in the context of a presentation about what parents can (and must) do to fight, if they have to, for their child to get appropriate reading instruction in school….what to do, specifically, when a school is not doing what she sees as a school’s job: to teach a child to read.

So, those eager parents who shared their story with the adults in the room about helping their daughter at home through worksheets (word study practice) that the school had given them – what are they to do?  Not do the worksheets?  Not coach their child in completing and practicing word study drills?  What does it mean, really, for a parent of a child with dyslexia to “make a child feel loved and joyful.”  To ignore word study practice?

No, not at all.

One thing to ask for, if you are a parent with a child who is struggling with reading, including word study drills, is for EASIER homework for your child. Easier books to read.  Magazines, lower-level books, whatever….the point is for the child to practice and feel good about what s/he knows and can do. To build confidence (and reading speed).

What is a “mom’s job?”  Would love to hear more insights.  Especially when a mom’s child hates to read because he or she hasn’t yet broken the code…when the child has been given a locker, but no key or lock combination with which to open the locker.

I love Elenn’s job description for moms.  It’s something that’s easy to remember….or at least easy to repeat to yourself.   I also love that it includes the word “joyful.”  That’s such a wondrous word – open and light.  Loved and joyful.

So, what’s a mom to do to fulfill such a job description?

Dads too!

One thing to do is to feel loved and joyful ourselves…it’s hard to give what we don’t have ourselves.  Time to take stock of what we love to do.  What makes us feel joyful.  And do it!