Prioritizing Attachment

School sucks.

I was briefly so excited about the start of school.  School keeps us regulated. It provides Hope with some social engagement. It makes us (me) feel productive.

But the reality is that it all just sucks.

School is hard for Hope. Like really hard. Like really, really hard.

She’s smart, but she’s got some limitations and despite wishing really, really hard, she’s not going to be a valedictorian. She’s an average kid.

I don’t do average. My issue, not hers.

I’m an overachiever. My sisters and I pride ourselves in doing and being better than 100%.

This overachiever/perfectionist thing is a problem, but that’s a whole other issue.

So, realizing that getting Hope on honor is like me scaling Mt. Rushmore has been hard to accept for me. Heck getting her to do reasonably well in each of her classes consistently is like me roller blading in spandex pants with just a bra top on the beach. I mean, it can happen, but it won’t be pretty and I’d probably end up with a couple of broken bones.

I’ve hired tutors and sent Hope to a commercial learning center.  I regularly visit the school counselors. I check in with her teachers. I schedule visits with her docs to make sure that medications are managed. I pay for private testing so that we don’t have to wait months and months for data that will inform educational decisions. I have nagged, I have begged and pleaded to get homework done. Hell, I’ve even written a 9th grade essay just to get us across a finish line (this is particularly painful as I was my university’s honor code chair in undergrad. Look what parenting does to you!!!) #hangsheadinshame

I have done everything I can think of, and I’m exhausted. And so is Hope.

And you know what?

Hope’s grades haven’t budged upward.

Not at all, not even a little.

If anything, things are harder than ever.

And I’ve fallen into a really negative rut as I try to pull her through assignment to assignment, quarter to quarter, semester to semester.

About two weeks ago, I found myself pondering what must she feel like in the midst of all my interventions.

I see and feel the resistance and the resentment.

I wonder if Hope thinks she’s disappointed me. I wonder if all this effort to ‘help’ her has hurt her. I wonder if I’ve undermined my efforts to build her up. I wonder if I’m just another parent in a long line of parents who have tried to ‘fix” her.

I then starting running over the last few months and really evaluating the state of our mother daughter bond.

It’s ok; I mean, there’s always room for improvement.

Thank I wondered how all my academic efforts might have hindered our attachment. I mean, if I was Hope I might pull back from all the criticism and all the effort to make me perform something that is so hard for me for any number of reasons.

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now, and I’ve made a decision.

After the next holiday break; I’m stopping the tutoring and learning centers. I’m going to still touch base with the counselors and teachers. I’m going to encourage her to breathe and know that she’s not defined by this academic thing. If she needs more time, then she’ll get more time. If she needs more coaching then she will absolutely have it.

I’m going back to prioritizing our relationship over her academic performance. It’s simply more important. She can take more time academically; but we can’t get this time back.

It’s just more important.

I love her, and while I want the best for her and I want her to benefit from all of the things I can give her, I think she really needs love, attention and encouragement.

We’ll come back to the schooling thing in time, but for now, she needs to know I love her just as she is.

She’s perfect.


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

16 responses to “Prioritizing Attachment

  • Beth H

    This sounds like a good priority. My husband and I try hard not to push our girl academically, but we (or rather, I) push the school hard to push her. The outsourcing works well. We can see how much she relaxes and has fun hanging out with us weeknights and weekends. But we also know the school team is meeting with her regularly to go over goals and progress. Sometimes I have to work hard to refrain from pushing the girl, like when it’s finals week and she hasn’t opened a book or done anything to study and here she is watching TV with us. I feel your frustration. But I think you’re making a good decision to prioritize attachment.

  • My Perfect Breakdown

    I know I will also one day struggle if our son doesn’t prioritize academics. So I appreciate your perspective. And I also really think your approach to prioritizing attachment right now is a wise one.

  • NickyB.

    Sounds like an awesome “plan.”

  • Staci Bush

    What about art, and music and dance. Cooking and designing. I’m like you and can’t sing or paint or design. She has a bliss and a talent, you just have to find it.
    Also get her an IEP. She may have special learning needs that weren’t diagnosed if she was in foster care without an advocate. They hate to diagnose once a child is in high school because it costs more for the school district- they even have to give an extra year to graduate.
    Many artists are dyslexic.
    And most academics are visual (reading/writing) learners…and teach only in that way…
    Good mommy you are- Yoda

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      We are a hardcore band family and she had taken lessons in numerous instruments so we tend to focus on that.

      She actually came with several diagnoses, and I had them confirmed through private testing earlier this year. She is currently operating under a 501 and her teachers are very supportive. Her issues are not severe enough for an IEP, a lot of what we are dealing with now is the will to do her part. She also has a teacher with severe ADHD and he gives her advice she is not ready to take. I think I have set her up for success, but you still have to want and believe you can be successful. She doesn’t so she struggles. 😢

      • Snarl Furillo

        Oh boy. As an ADD’er and a former special ed parent advocate, “not severe enough for an IEP” makes my antenna go up. Reading your accounts of Hope’s struggles with school AND chores AND emotions and then hearing she has a 504…just based on your descriptions of her, she sounds underaccomodated at school. Are they still making her ask to use her accommodations? Did they decide that based on her testing or is it a blanket “high schoolers must ask” policy? It doesn’t sound developmentally appropriate for her. I absolutely know of kids with issues that cause then less stress than Hope’s who have an IEP.

        I’m sorry, I hope I don’t sound judgemental. I remember reaching high school and all of a sudden hearing that I had a bad attitude, was disrespectful, didn’t try hard enough. A couple teachers in particular had heard that I was a good student and thought I was getting 37s on my tests because I was lazy or thought it was funny. I had just reached the limits of what I could do without accommodations. It sucked, and I don’t have Hope’s background of trauma. Hearing that she is going through the same things I did makes me think different help might be in order. Anyway, I know you have more info than I do and you are doing so much for her. I’m glad she has you.

        • AdoptiveBlackMom

          This is good feedback for me to consider. I monitor things closely, but you might really be into something here. Yes, the policy is “ask” in or district and she is good about asking. Sure had every accommodation that was recommended by the psychologist & psychiatrist (private docs and I did external testing). Good food for thought! Thanks.

        • Snarl Furillo

          Sounds like you are doing a lot and have a great team behind you. I’m glad Hope is using her accommodations, that was a big hurdle for me. You two are a wonderful family. I’m sure you and Hope will find your way.

  • polwygle

    I’ve had siblings and friends who struggled with their grades in high school but excelled later in college or in the military or trade school. While I had great grades throughout school (I was salutatorian), I didn’t do so great the next four years at college. I respect that you are offering her a chance to breathe and the extra time if she needs it. Real life, life on her own out there, is coming soon enough.

  • vibrantwriter

    This is also an area where I struggle with my son. As a young child, he spent a lot of time bouncing around, from one grade school to another and occasionally into other neighboring school districts. He has no real academic base for his education so of course he struggles. He is smart, he just doesn’t know how to learn and is very resistant to asking for help when he isn’t understanding something. This is our fourth school year together and I am FINALLY seeing him work as hard as I know he can and he is getting the best grades he has ever had. I’ve done the things you mentioned, including all but completing his summer school assignments for him, but he wasn’t improving. Just before he started school this year he learned he only had enough credits to be considered a freshman when, by age, he should be a junior (he was held back in an earlier grade). That helped spur him on to work harder this year so he can take summer classes and maybe, hopefully, graduate next year. When he first moved in with me, he never spoke about graduating high school or seeking further education. Now, he is adamant about completing high school and has begun exploring career options. Like you, I was a straight A student. I had one C in college and was devastated about it. In fact, my younger siblings also performed very well in school, so my parents expected us to do well. It was hard for me to let go of that standard for my child! So, so hard! But, once I did, it really seemed to help my son take school more seriously. I still push him and expect him to do his very best, but unlike before, he now expects that of himself as well. And now I sing the hallelujah chorus!! I pray that by focusing on your connection, Hope can come to her own conclusions about the importance of academics.

  • Susan

    This made me cry!

    You girls have been through a lot together. I am sure your bond is strong and unique and will continue to grow.

  • HerdingChickens

    School does suck. And that is coming from the coke teacher-nanny! But honestly, most schools are hyper-focused on test scores. There is virtually no training about trauma informed teaching. It would take too much time away from pushing those test scores. We even cut down on social studies, history and/or civics because those subjects are not on the state tests here in CT. So then we raise class after class of students who do not understand politics and/or the significance of our nation’s history. And then they go and vote for Trump!

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Ugh. Hope complains about my edutainment efforts, but I can tell that it had helped her learn history and politics. She knows about sociology. She knows more about Black history and Latin American history. I’m teaching her. Her teachers work hard, but we don’t share the same focus. I do wish our efforts shared more goals. None of mine have to do with test scores.

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