In my last post I wrote a grand set up for this 2019 Beautiful Truths #4, and now I find that I’m struggling to put words to it. In my attempts to narrow down and actually define this truth, I have lots of words and phrases that run through my head.
-Square pegs and round holes. Already wrote about that here.
-More than one way to skin the homeschool cat. That sounds rather morbid and isn’t quite where I’m going with this.
-My children flourish best when I embrace, and foster, their unique God-given bent. That’s a lot closer, but it’s trite and well….duh! I do hate to try and pass off the obvious as profundity.
I found myself with quite the wrestling match in my brain, trying to grasp this slippery truth that evaded definition, when it hit me. This truth effects all of those phrases, but it’s actually less about my kids, and more about me.
“The difficulty lies, not in new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.” -John Maynard Keynes
When I became a parent I figured I knew how children learn best. It involved sitting at tiny desks in neat rows with 20 or more of one’s peers, learning the same things at the same pace from the same teacher.
Nineteen years of homeschooling has disabused me of that notion. Even so, lest I become prideful in my out of the box, non-traditional approach to educating my kids, the good Lord seems to keep pushing my thinking, exposing the tendrils of those old ideas that cling to the corners of my consciousness.
With each of my kids I’ve had to be brought around to totally new ways of thinking. I’ve had to escape old ideas of what it means to help my children succeed in life and instead, help them hack through the underbrush of societal expectations to find the path of their choosing.
It’s hard to go against what society says you need to succeed, to buck the ‘experts’ and do something different. Yet, I’m finding that what is so hard about it isn’t the doing, it’s changing my thinking about it.
This past year it’s been my youngest who is really pushing my thinking. A sophomore, she would rather be painting or learning new makeup or nail techniques than studying geometry or biology. Her ultimate goal is to go to a good cosmetology school in a larger city.
She’s a great kid, but it’s been a struggle to motivate her and the clashes between us have threatened my sanity. (And her continued existence, if I’m being honest here!) Just when I was at my wit’s end with how to get her through school, she threw me a curveball.
She sat me down shortly after the start of the school year and said, “Mom, please just hear me out and think about this.” She proceeded to outline a plan where she would finish out this year and complete whatever academics I think she needs and then take her GED test next year. Her plan is then to work for her dad for a couple of years to save money for the cosmetology school she has her eye on. She researched the school, figured how much money she could likely save, and was calm and logical as she presented her case.
Not too many years ago I would have shut this ‘plan’ down instantly. A GED at 16 is not what I had in mind when we started this homeschooling gig. Yet I could instantly see that this plan was actually rather perfect for this particular, fiercely independent and creative child of mine. As my husband and I discussed it and prayed about it, it seemed more and more brilliant, an answer for this kid who has bucked every other more traditional type of schooling we’ve handed out.
Allowing her to take ownership of her educational plan, however different it may be from my vision, has changed the dynamics of our homeschool immensely. No more butting heads, she has found a personal motivation to complete her course and takes my reminders and prodding with maturity. (Mostly.) It’s a beautiful thing, indeed, and if she can actually complete what amounts to over two years worth of academics in one to reach her goal, then who am I to stand in the way?
So I guess my beautiful truth is this: sometimes we have to let go of what we think we know in order to help our kids succeed. A little off-roading just might be the most efficient way to get a kid on the path to their God-given purpose.
Sometimes, in doing that, we will have to lay aside our pride and accept the barbs the world will throw at us as a result of our rebellion. (I’ve already been accused of allowing her to ‘drop out’ of school.). But to wrap back around to my set up post: for me, it took a season of pouring the lion’s share of my attention into this kid to enable me to see the wisdom of her plan and to stand firm against the naysayers.
Isn’t it beautiful how our Father leads us to just the right truths at just the right times, laying out our past experiences like stepping stones?
In the end, it’s my job to help each of my kids become the best version of themselves, the person our Father was thinking about when He first conceived of their existence. That might mean taking a more traditional educational path, and then again, it may not. Either way, I’ll keep unlearning old ideas as needed to make room for the new!
Grace and peace,
“Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 AMP)