Monday, August 9, 2021

Relationship Matters

 I'm pretty sure not too many people would argue with me about the benefits of homeschooling. Not only is it becoming apparent nationally that homeschoolers tend to excel academically, but socially they are not an inept as the reputation they generally have received. No, the benefits are not really where people get lost. It's in the sacrifice of self. 

I'm not saying everyone needs to homeschool; obviously, if everyone started homeschooling this week we would have major collapses economically and socially. That debate about the public school system and how it affects our politics, economy, job-market, and more is for someone much more enlightened than me. What I really want to write about today is relationship, about living, and about how homeschooling matters in those regards. 

 After going through a couple years of struggle in regards to our homeschooling atmosphere, I ran into a wall. I realized I could not make my kids want the good things I wanted for them. I had to wrestle with my faith, my identity, my ambitions, my physical limits, and most of all, I had to deal with all of the ways and things I did not want to sacrifice. I had to deal with my regrets in how I dealt with my children and ask God to redeem all my mistakes. I had to swallow the large pill of not being able to undo my own missteps and trust God for the futures of my children. And navigating all that has led me here, to some of these conclusions.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that last summer I posted my list of these lessons along with short explanations. I have been quietly working out how to put those into a book, and been less than diligent about getting a proposal of sorts together. But my heart has still be working through all of that, and throughout our transition to Tennessee I have seen the truth in these ideas and am implementing them into my homeschool coaching. This biggest idea, which was actually the whole reason I started out homeschooling, has become even more prominent and important to me. Truly, I feel undeserving of learning this before my kids are too far gone, and pray that God will still redeem the time. You ready?

Your relationship with your children will determine their ability to live well more than how well you homeschool. 

Anyone coming from an abusive home will tell you what a hindrance that has been for them in gaining a normal level of stability in life. Not that it cannot be overcome, but it takes intentionality and comes with a lot of frustration and challenge. Even when you come from a home with some low-level dysfunction, you have to work through that stuff. So why do most homeschooling organizations focus so much on the educational aspect instead of the relational? Fear? Distrust? Trying to ease the worries of parents? I'm not sure exactly, and I'm certainly not saying real learning doesn't need to happen. What I am saying is that your relationships in the home will be a gift unlike any other and will require a sacrifice unlike any other. 

When I began homeschooling, I was convicted that my #1 job as their mother was to do all I could to reveal Christ to my children. As I got further into homeschooling, somehow that priority shifted without me realizing it. I thought my kids needed all the right books, the right friends, the right mix of socialization and alone time, the right activities offered at the right time, and the list goes on. Add on whatever other things you pursue out of a worry that you are depriving your children: those things will likely become an obsessive distraction. 

The truth is, when we won't give our children our attention, our love, our interest, or our time, we deprive them of what they long for most. Even as I enter the teenage years, and my son needs me to do less things for him, he still needs a lot of my attention and interest. My care, my willingness to be nice when I feel like rolling my eyes, my time in printing out web-shooter templates for him off the internet: those are building his character more than making sure I've read the right book at the right time. 

Demanding what I deem as good behavior, requiring my level of perfection on maps, expecting them to love learning the way I do... when I hold these things over them, I ruin our relationship. It might seem like these are my godly convictions, but the truth is that I often make excuses and say these things are what God expects while also acting in ways that displease Him. It cannot be this way.

There is a way to homeschool well without looming over our children and checking off every box we think they might need. This is what it really means to trust God with their lives. We do what seems best at the time, and trust that if there is a different path, God will lead us on it. The problem arrises when we think we know the best path and are unwilling to stray from it, even when the signs of destruction are all around us. 

So if you are feeling wobbly today in your homeschooling journey, stop. Take a breath. Get out your bible, read a Proverb with your children, look them in the eye, and let them know you love them. Bake something together, make something together, take a little journey somewhere refreshing (a park or hike will do just fine), and ask God to help you love them well. 

Homeschooling well has to begin with loving them well. That means knowing they are God's children, trusting that He loves them better, affirming that His will in their lives will be done (and will be done best) without you lording over them with your authority, worksheets, and perfectionistic demands. It will mean a lot more sacrifice than you expect, but God always returns it with peace in your heart and peace in the home. There is a place for persistence and skill-training, but it will never be accomplished without love or by force. 

Believe that God can turn out an amazing person who has less than amazing handwriting! My husband is a perfect example ;) He is amazing and writes in chicken-scratch. Trust that God can use a person for His good work who can't draw a very good map, or doesn't have an amazing memory, or only barely finished Algebra 2 before being done with High School. 

If the battles in work and achievement in your home are causing a rift in your relationship with your kids as mother, fix that first. Find ANY way you can to lovingly put good content into their hearts while dealing with your interior motives and perspectives. Their soul's well-being depends on your input, and your well-being depends on letting God input His priorities into your heart. Let Him do that. Be open to how the changes might look. Make room for that change and watch to see the difference it will make in your home. The beauty will overshadow every sacrifice.

No comments:

Post a Comment