Written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things
I hear it all the time. I bet you do, too.
“I’m homeschooling because…
…I’m afraid the culture will destroy my kids.
…I want my kids to stay Christian.
…I don’t want them to be exposed to bad language or ideas or influences.”
These statements all share one thing in common- they’re based on fear, grounded in an overwhelming anxiety that unless we homeschool our kids, things will not end the way we want them to.
It’s a fear that we aren’t in control, and that things might not turn out as we planned.
Here’s an idea worth considering: homeschooling doesn’t guarantee that our kids will come out any particular way. It doesn’t ensure that they’ll embrace our religious beliefs, get into a good college, or make life choices we’ll be proud of.
Our kids are not ingredients in a recipe. Just because we prepare them in a particular way doesn’t mean that they’ll come out how we hope. In fact, I know plenty of loving, hard-working homeschooling parents whose kids live lives running a gamut of mistakes and missteps.
Kids are human, and humanity is messy.
See, our success is not bound up in results. We aren’t actually in control, no matter how much we like to pretend we are (and oh, how I do!).
To be certain, as our kids grow, we have a profound impact in shaping and forming them- we read to them, talk to them, and guide them along the way.
And then they make choices of their own.
Homeschooling very well may be the thing that helps my child’s life head in the right direction. Or it may not.
There’s no real way way to know, and as long as my own value, self-worth, and success story is bound up in whether or not they do, I’m forgetting who I am and what my work is in this world.
Let’s consider a garden. If I know that I want to grow tomatoes, then these are my tasks:
- prepare the soil
- plant the seeds
- water, weed, and thin as needed
I’ll give that garden my loving attention and whole lot of time. And then I’ll wait. I cannot force the tomatoes to grow, after all. And there is, of course, the possibility that tomatoes will never come, or that when they do, they’ll be mealy or infected.
Homeschooling makes no guarantees.
What might it look like if, instead of doing it out of fear and anxiety, we homeschooled out of a deep sense of unshakable peace and rest?
What if we had the confidence and courage to know that homeschooling is worth our time and effort- not because we’ll get certain results- but because loving and teaching our kids as they are, where they are, is always worth our time and effort?
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I think this what it might look like for me:
1.We’d relax and enjoy each other more.
If I was more concerned with the process than the product— if my heart was set on tending my garden rather than forcing it to bear fruit— that would give us the freedom to lay out under a starry night, get lost for an entire morning in a good book, delight in the chance to spend an afternoon at a farmer’s market or the local library.
2. We’d read and talk more.
I’d be less stressed about having physical proof that learning has happened, and that would free us up to read wonderful books and have casual, chatty conversations about them.
I’d have a good set of questions by my side to help along the way, but the act of reading and discussing wouldn’t be practiced for the sake of keeping track and ticking off checklists.
3. I’d feel the need to demonstrate my own interests and passions.
Because I know that each of my kids needs to uncover the creative work that he is made to do for himself, I would feel more responsibility to do my own creative work in his presence.
Not in a didactic, teaching way, but in an organic, casual, I’m on fire for this so I can’t keep it to myself kind of way.
4. I’d focus on what matters most.
I would feel less of a pressing need to cram a certain body of knowledge into each of my kids, and so I’d feel less angst over making sure there are no gaps or missed subjects in the curriculum.
I’d have the freedom to go all in where it matters most. I’d listen to some of my favorite mentors tell me what those are, and then I’d give myself permission to let a lot of the rest slide.
Overall, I’d be free to enjoy my kids as the independent, made-in-the-image-of-God humans they are. I’d delight in their presence, laugh at their antics, roll my eyes at their craziness.
I’d shed the need to make sure they turn out just so, and focus instead on loving and teaching them as they are.
I’d remember that packet of seeds. I’d remember my place.
I would be free.
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