We try to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We want them to be like that tree planted by the rivers of waters, with deep roots in God. We aim to train them in the way they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it. God has told us to do this.
As home schoolers we are engaged in this task neck-deep. If we aren’t careful, we focus our lives on this so much that it becomes our identity. If this is your identity, who are you when the job is done? It inevitably will be done, and rightly so.
As our kids start to think for themselves and make their own decisions, they may not choose in individual matters as we would for them. This is a natural thing, since they are individual creations of God. But if they think or do something which, though not unscriptural, we disagree with, we may feel threatened. It may feel like they are rejecting not only the teaching we have invested our lives in, but also our very selves.
We always have to trust God with our children, whether they are crossing the street on ". . . Rollerblade skates, . . ." and ". . . a U-Haul trailer." This is a never-ending reality for parents. I’ve had babies, and I’ve had twenty-somethings; I’m still being tested in this. Letting go means trusting God to continue to work in the life of the adult child that you have raised with his help.
We are still growing, and our parents aren’t micromanaging our lives. Now it’s our turn to stand back and watch the process in our grown children. But that is especially hard to do if our own identity is too closely wrapped up in our kids. Then we have more at stake than their well-being, and we have burdened our kids with more than they were ever meant to carry.
Parents sometimes witness lapses in wisdom in their older children. I’m 47, and I suspect that my mother sometimes sees lapses of wisdom in me. But she usually says nothing or very little. I think that’s partly because she realizes it doesn’t come all at once, and partly because she knows I won’t "get it" until I live through it. Here I have a secret to tell: The older I get, the less wise I feel. Maybe part of the wisdom that’s supposed to come with age is in the humility that accompanies finding out how little you really have figured out. So, we see our grown children making less-than-ideal decisions, and therefore we oppose them. Wait a minute—are we giving them time and room to grow? Are we feeling threatened that they don’t "think like us"?
Beyond the transmission of facts, what are the foundational goals of most home schooling parents? We want our children to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We want them to be men and women of godly character. We want them to be able to think for themselves. We must now allow them to do just that and to be accountable to God.
Another thought—I do not want the responsibility of making my grown kids’ decisions. I am fallible. If I say they must pursue this career path or marry that man, and things don’t work out and they are miserable, I must bear that. No, thank you. It is painful enough to watch them struggle with hard times I had nothing to do with, without adding guilt that I pushed them into it.
And no matter how well we raise our kids, they will have some hard times. No matter what our instincts, we cannot shield them completely. Think about it. It’s a common factor of human life. Unbelieving Ernest Hemingway observed that the world breaks us all, but that we grow strong in the broken places. This is part of God’s educational program.
- Carol Willis