I had a wretched evening. My middle school son and I battled over his schoolwork and I felt completely discouraged.

The next morning, I went to a student-of-the-year presentation at the high school where I teach. Each teacher picks a student who has stood out over the year. This award is a big deal.

A teacher stood up with a graduating senior I’d had in previous years. She’d both warmed my teacher heart and broken my teacher heart. Incredibly likable, this girl was kind and fun to be around.

But she didn’t like homework or goals . . . or really doing anything academic at all.

Despite encouragement and talking to and phone calls home, her mom and I barely dragged her over the passing line in my class. For three high school years, she struggled to find any success at all in school.

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Then something happened–I don’t know really, but her senior year, we all saw a change in her.

She carried herself differently. With more confidence.

Like she’d made up her mind to do well, and now she was ready to take some steps.

She started making plans for after graduation–her future excited her. She took on more leadership roles in school–her confidence grew. She focused on getting assignments completed and turned in–her grades went up.

And now she was standing on a stage being applauded by a room full of teachers, administrators, parents, and peers.

Her mom beamed as she came over to say hello after the presentation. I asked what had changed. She said, her daughter—ready for this life-changing event? This lighting-strike moment?—she said her daughter simply matured.

No big dramatic moment. Instead, at the end of her junior year, she quietly began to grow up.

All the things her parents and teachers said to her finally started to sink in. And because she’d been given the tools to find success over the years, she knew to pull them out and start testing a few. Also, because everyone unconditionally loved her when she wasn’t using her gifts, I imagine she knew she had nothing to lose by simply trying.

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This mom’s words were exactly what I needed to hear.

Just because my kid fought me on completing homework doesn’t mean he always will.

And just because our kids don’t always make good choices doesn’t mean they always will.

Just because our kids are moody and cranky with us doesn’t mean they always will.

And just because our kids can seem apathetic with no ambition or direction, it doesn’t mean they always will.

Sometimes kids just need time.

To grow.

To let it all sink in.

To be late bloomers.

And to mature.

Moms, we stay the course. We keep loving and encouraging our kids through the high moments and the low moments. Even if our kids don’t respond to our motivation and wisdom, we keep giving them tools. We keep placing in their toolbox life lessons and tangible steps of how to be successful along with a ton of unconditional love.

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And then we know–we really know and believe–that maturity will happen . . . eventually.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Cheryl Donely

Cheryl Donely is a high school teacher and mom to three boys. She writes faith-based encouragement for moms of tweens/teens at Empowered Moms and Kids. Subscribe here to get monthly encouragement and instant access to Empowered Moms and Kid's Freebie Library. Or follow Empowered Moms and Kids on Facebook.