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Victim or Victor (the hard choice when your student faces health or academic challenges)

For some students, school is a breeze, and life is a bowl of cherries. Others, however, face grave challenges. Some have major health issues even at a young age. Others deal with difficult family situations or have learning disorders.

Sick student - challenges
Photo Credit: Harbor Life via Compfight cc

As a teacher, I had many students who experienced various challenges, but there was sometimes a factor that made the already difficult situation tragic – a victim mentality.

A Tale of Two Students

I can think of two students in particular who faced great challenges but whose parents approached them very differently.

The first student came into my 8th grade algebra class with learning difficulties. His parents were determined to help him succeed, constantly with him at his locker after school to ensure he had everything, meeting with teachers when necessary, and no doubt spending countless hours together at home.

The result? This student graduated this past year with honors and plans to attend college. I have no doubt he can do it. He is doing amazingly well.

I wish all stories were like this one, but the other student I’m thinking of broke my heart. As a junior higher, he developed severe health problems that limited his diet and left him in almost constant pain.

But his mom reacted very differently. Instead of extra help and support, she instead gave a myriad of excuses. “Gavin” couldn’t do his homework because he just needs to be able to watch TV all night. Yes, I know he’s failing, but that’s the only thing that gets his mind off his pain

My heart broke for this family and their extremely difficult situation, but I could see it going from bad to worse before my eyes. The health issues weren’t going away, and if the victim mentality continued, this poor student would never accomplish anything.

When our students or children face challenges, it may seem compassionate to try to bail them out and alleviate their burden. But instead, we need to ask ourselves what is truly best for their future.

When choosing whether to be a victim or a victor, here’s a few things to consider….

  1. What is the cost of being a victim? Ask yourself – if we continue on this path, where will it lead? If Gavin’s mom allows him to never do any school work in favor of distracting himself with TV, then he will fail the school year. If something doesn’t change, he won’t graduate. Or if he does, he will be conditioned to view himself as a victim of his disease. He’ll have lots of excuses but won’t ever accomplish anything. I know this isn’t what any parent wants, so we need to be honest about where our decisions will lead us.

  2. What happens if we choose to rise above these challenges? Now imagine that instead of being a victim of the difficult circumstances, you choose to fight them. There are so many inspirational examples. Helen Keller, Fanny Crosby, Glenn Cunningham, and the Apostle Paul all faced incredible physical challenges but rose above them to accomplish incredible things. The common denominator? They did not let their challenges define them but instead learned to overcome them.

  3. How can I help my child succeed? If you choose not to be a victim, the road will be challenging and difficult. Your child can’t walk it alone; they desperately need your help. And you will likely need the help of others as well. Seek out advice, and above all, pray for help. Claim God’s promises such as Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Our society has conditioned us that when things are rough, it’s someone else’s fault, there’s nothing we can do, and we need the government to bail us out. But that’s just not true. With God as our helper, we can face any difficulty and overcome it through His strength.

So, please, I’m begging you. Don’t allow your student to be a victim of their circumstances. Help them be a victor and go on to do incredible things. They need you.

 What challenges have you or your loved ones faced? How did you deal with them? Share your story by leaving a comment.

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