Borderline Children - The Warrior's Journey®

Borderline Children

Author: Brendon O'Dowd, USAF (Ret.)

'Read Iraq'. Photo by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC By 2.0

What do you do when your child is failing in school?  When you have tried rewards and punishments.  You have removed electronics and secluded him in his room.  You have cut her off from texting with her friends.  Despite everything you try, nothing seems to make a difference.

You may have asked for a special education assessment to be accomplished but your child was not qualified for specialized services.  Perhaps you have tried other legal routes like a 504 (formalized help that is not special education), and again your son or daughter did not qualify.

All your efforts do nothing to stop your child from falling further behind in school.  It’s like the teacher is traveling at 50 mph while your child is only traveling 35 mph.  The longer school goes on, the further behind your child gets.   Although it seems the system is rigged against borderline children, know that you are not alone and there is much you can do.


Recognize that there are cultural issues that must be navigated.  These issues are like roadside bombs that have the potential to cause significant damage.

Our Culture:

  • Overemphasizes high academic achievement from preschool through college (getting only As). Good grades then become the sole determiner of success.
  • Pushes pharmaceutical drugs as the best, and often only, solution to your child’s problems.
  • Is dominated by electronics that reward distraction rather than focused concentration.
  • Has inherited schools that are often overcrowded and underfunded, and cannot provide the necessary social and behavioral supports needed for solid development (Emlet, 2017).


We need to prize and promote obedience to God over and above academic success.

God uses the prophet Samuel to tell Saul that God desires obedience much more than religious sacrifices (1 Samuel 15:22).  Jesus reminds us that if we love God, we will obey His commandments (John 14:21).

Grades are important, but they are temporary in comparison to our relationship with God.

Cheating, manipulating the system, and even avoiding hard tasks will not be pleasing to God.  Let us teach our children the importance of knowing and obeying the very words that bring life.


We need to promote the importance of utilizing the gifts God has given us for the good of His body. Paul illustrates the importance of playing our part in God’s community with a summary of how the body works with many members.

“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.  If they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12:14-19).

Every child is unique and given unique gifts and talents by God.  How can we encourage and support the way our children are made?  Explore their interests, give them a variety of experiences, and be patient with their growth rate (parents always think it is too slow!).


We need to help our children understand their bodies.  Teach them to know the difference between good and bad pain (like a broken bone versus soreness from a workout).  Teach them to have sustained focus through sports, martial arts, and control of electronics.

As parents we must fight the tendency to use electronics as a babysitter and instead encourage them to find books that fit their reading ability and desires.  We can even help them practice concentration through games and memory exercises.  We can also sit with them during homework and remind them when they get off track because many of their off-task behaviors have become ingrained and unnoticeable to them.


Let us set a positive example of following Christ by investing in our relationship with Him, even when things are hard or we are suffering (1 Peter 2:21).  We want our children to imitate us as we imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Your borderline child may be just the thing to refocus you and your family’s sights on God.

Our performance-based society knows nothing of grace, and your child may be the catalyst to teach others about God’s grace regardless of our status, grades, or performance.


Emlet, Michael. (2017).  Descriptions and Prescriptions.  New Growth Press: Greensboro, NC.

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