We all expect some element of perfection from our children, it starts the day they are born. The moment I saw my firstborn, I was laid out on the operating table during an emergency C-section, while my husband held our daughter for the first time with that new dad glisten in his eyes. As soon I laid eyes on her my arms screamed to hold her and my heart was filled with pride over this bundle of perfection God had given us. Her cry, her adorable scrunched nose, the way her finger instantly grasped mine, when I realized she was searching for me at the sound of my voice, these are the moments we wish would never end.
Inevitably, they always do.
Now this precious baby has grown to be not quite a pre-teen but already a bundle of emotions and personality. This child is longer untouched by the imperfection of the world or the imperfection in me. I can feel her heart on the edge of two worlds, one where she rests in our love and we are perfection to her. In the other, she is growing older and is beginning to see our weakness too.
We are on the edge the teenage years. Honestly I have seen many a homeschool parent panic under these circumstances. After all we pour everything into our kids, literally everything we’ve got! We don’t shirk a single one of the parental responsibilities and because we are called to homeschool, choose to take on our kids education and stability completely into our hands. Once your precious little ones become teenagers, the pressure is enough to crack the most solid of fantastic homeschooling parents.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step. If that problem is your homeschooled teen you might have some extra special things to keep a look out for! The homeschool lifestyle isn’t your average one and your homeschooled teen isn’t so average either. I have not yet parented a real, life teenager but I was once a homeschooled teen myself so I can only offer encouragement from the other side.
I am part of an entire generation of Homeschool graduates who would say their homeschool years were great, but that the teen or young adult years were when it got hard. Now I get it, the same would be said of any teen no matter where they went to school. However the pouring out kind of dedication that Homeschool parents give their kids financially, spiritually and physically is so vast that these years of letting go, can be that much harder. So much love and dedication from all of our parents yet, if the letting go is too difficult, it can be a rough transition. Christian Homeschoolers have an intense dedication to seeing their kids succeed, when a lot is poured in, a lot is expected.
These are the things I will be reminding myself of around the clock as our kids enter their teen years. I have a hard time letting go when it comes to relationships, so I know this is something I will struggle through and will need to continually remind myself what it is like to struggle into becoming an adult. It won’t be easy, but it is all part of God’s perfect plan for my child’s life, even if it doesn’t appear that way to my human eyes.
Engage In Education
This isn’t the time to take the focus off teaching your kids. We all want our kids to own their education and certainly by this time we would love to see this happening, but they also need accountability. I didn’t always care about learning when I was in high school and my Mom & Dad weren’t ones to just let me passively ignore my education. They were actively involved in making sure I was on track to pursue my dreams, whatever those dreams would become! When math(not my strong subject) was filled with headaches my Dad would wake up early and teach me my math lessons himself before heading in to work, something I wouldn’t appreciate until much later!
Those that do not have parents who partner with them in high school will struggle to succeed both academically and just getting through life in general. Confidence falters when we struggle to believe our education was a priority to our parents, another truth that applies no matter where kids go to school. I know some adults who grew up with parents who never even brought up the idea of college or what career path their kids would want to take. After all of the time we have invested in our kids, this does them a great disservice.
Ideally if you want your teenagers to be open to this concept of a partnership in education, it is something that starts when they are young and continues throughout their schooling years. If you have spent your kids elementary years getting them to do all their schoolwork on their own, then in middle or high school you realize maybe you want to be involved after all, they may have lost their interest in you partnering with them. In fact, I don’t believe this ever truly ends. I still have educational conversations with my parents and learn from them, sometimes painfully so!
Give Time, Space & Prayer
It’s like dissecting a hormonal bomb sometimes, I can only begin to imagine. There is a delicate balance between pushing your teens straight to the cliff of adulthood and wanting to be so involved you end up suffocating them right out of adulthood. Sometimes they will tell you they want to be left alone, yet they will actually want you to get involved and vice versa. Good luck!
If your teen does in fact want space, don’t be afraid of that! Remember that they are becoming this whole adult with their own unique thoughts and feelings. Even if their opinions on life have become completely different, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At my kids young ages they teach me new things daily. Their outlook and perspective on the world is unique and holds many opportunities for me to see things differently. I’m sure this will continue well into their teen years as frustrating and painful as that will be, it is still true!
As scary as this may feel to you as a parent, hold tight to all you have invested in to your child up until this point! There were many moments as a young adult it may have seemed I had completely lost my way. If you are feeling stuck with your teen don’t forget to cling to the greatest force for change, prayer.
Pray not just that they will see things your way, but that God’s will will be done.
Pray that if change needs to happen that God will use others in your teens life to inspire that change.
Pray for a change of heart more than looking for a change of outward behavior.
Sometimes a change of heart is already occurring but if we jump too fast on the outward behavior, the heart may harden before we’ve had the chance to see the change.
Not only were the foundational truths of scripture still alive and well in me even at my worst points, but even when I made mistakes it became part of my story.
Allow Their Story To Unfold
We want our kids to avoid pain in life from the moment they take those first steps! We leap to catch their fall as babies or toddlers but at some point, we really must let them take those falls. When we remove chances for failure we are also removing chances for future growth. I do not look forward to watching my kids make mistakes but I will be clinging to God during those times, reminding myself that it is all part of their story which will hopefully bring God glory!
I say hopefully because nothing, not even homeschooling, guarantees I will get a perfect child. You have to decide at some point what is more important, having the perfect kid or having a strong relationship with your imperfect kid! More than caring that they do everything according to the way I expect, I hope that my teen and young adult children will know they can come to me, even when they don’t meet my expectations. And I won’t be afraid to say I am disappointed, but just as quick to remind them that I know God is working on them just like he is working on me!
People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy. Proverbs 28:13
I still disappoint my heavenly Father but he still wraps me in love. It is a disappointment to God because He hates to see us struggle in sin, not because He is standing there haughty with His own perfection. When we confess our sin, God is merciful to us! If I can extend that kind of grace to my kids, that I am sad you have to go through this, but I love you anyway! It will go a long way to keep our relationship strong. I want my kids to prosper, so I will extend mercy, even when it hurts.
If you are struggling through a tough relationship with your homeschool teen, don’t forget why you decided to homeschool in the first place. For many of us, it is God’s call on our life. It had nothing with having perfect kids in the very beginning of your homeschool journey. Hold on to that even when the results don’t look as pretty as you expected them to! God’s call doesn’t always look perfect, but hold on to His promises.
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Provebs 22:6
It’s our job to train up our children.
Let God sharpen your arrows and help them soar.