Thursday, July 01, 2010

Looking back over the course

Lately, my reflections and evaluations of bringing up children at home have been a lopsided ledger. I have been able to see my liabilities and can't seem to find my assets under all of them. A couple of interactions with my young adult children have helped me to find some and my husband will say, "look at them. The three of them are wonderful people and you had a LOT to do with that." My response to that is "only by the grace of God." I really don't want to take any credit.

Then I read the following on another Christian Mom's blog:

If I neglect the challenge to teach and train my children to transition from a busy school year to a relaxed summer schedule I will resent them. The un-interrupted quiet time I have when the kids are at school give me mornings at the throne of grace. Those peaceful hours help me focus on the things that matter. (to read the post in its entirety)

First, I will share my response to this part of the post

I just recently started following your blog. It was never my intent to post a comment, thinking that I would just be lurking, reading and digesting. My children are probably quite a bit older than yours. Something struck me and well I may blog about it because it was as if the LORD was speaking to me through you. What touched me was this:
"If I neglect the challenge to teach and train my children to transition from a busy school year to a relaxed summer schedule I will resent them. The un-interrupted quiet time I have when the kids are at school give me mornings at the throne of grace. Those peaceful hours help me focus on the things that matter."

When my kids were small (3 under 7), I would do my best to rise before they did to have that "un-interrupted quiet time" and quite often I would end up with one of them cuddling with me. Each of them knew that this was mum's time with the LORD, they were welcomed to be with me but they needed to be quiet. The first time I sent any of my kids off to school was last year when my oldest went off to college. (now they are 3 who are all over 17)
Thank you for inspiring me and reminding me of God's faithfulness.
Time for me to blog the rest of my thoughts.

What strikes me now is the phrase, "focus on the things that matter most" and for me the raising (which included teaching and training) children at home was the primary focus. When children are small especially under the age of 7, which lots of people consider the formative years, and one chooses to gives away the best part of their children's day to be shaped and molded by someone else, the testimony of honest people is a lot of unlearning has to be done at home. This takes tremendous effort and a fair amount of tenacity. I can only imagine that it is like fighting against a great tide. The worldview of the teachers, the authority factor, and the time children spend under the roof and influence of a school seems to me like a strong opponent to set against a pair of loving parents.

Long ago, I came to believe that it takes a greater amount of faith to send your kids to school, often placing them under the authority of someone you don't know, then to keep them at home. I still believe it.

As I continue to think about what my fellow blogger is saying, I can’t help but think that she is the one who is in need of learning to be flexible in the transition from delegating the responsibility of her children to others to taking back the full responsibility in order to avoid resenting them. Depending on the kid, it is usually one of two reactions to the end of school: the old Alice Cooper, “School’s out for summer! No more teachers, no more books…..” or “I am bored and I wish I was back in school.” I suppose there are those kids who are middle of the road and simply tolerate the fact that they have to go to school. However, I think most parents have harder time transitioning from a school schedule to a summer schedule.

Parents need to be parents. It is up to us to establish authority in the home. In a culture that is so focused on our right to be individuals, it is hard to operate as a family and value family life even when one chooses to raise children at home and maintain that authority and responsibility. Children who are in a classroom setting whether public or private may be encouraged to respect the teacher and one another but it is hard to create an atmosphere that calls for unity. Let’s try to imagine.

“Good morning, my name is Mrs. Mullaney and I will be your teacher this year from September 2010 to June 2011. As 5th graders, I expect that you will respect me as your authority and respect one another as fellow classmates. This year as my students, I will expect one more thing and it will require each of you to cooperate. We will conduct ourselves as a united class. It will be like being on a ship setting out on a voyage at sea. I will be the Captain and you will be my crew. In order to have a successful outing we will have to work together. Every crew member must pull his own weight and at the same time look out for one another, helping each other, encouraging each other and at times you may need to rescue a classmate or even your Captain.”

A student raises her hand and says, “Mrs. Mullaney that sounds like Kindergarten stuff.”

“Agreed and students who are educated do not leave the basics behind. An education is built upon a foundation. This is a foundational principle of the Farview Ave School. If you want to do well in this class and in life then you will agree to follow it.”

Objecting the student replies: “We are not just fellow classmates, we are competitors. I see how it is good to be united. My family is united by the fact we believe that each of my siblings and I ought to be at the top of the class. We are achieving just that and will continue to do so.”

Let’s say at this point, I have done some preparations knowing full well there will be objectors and that this student indeed has been at the top of her class since kindergarten, doesn’t have a lot of friends, and does not have a problem with treading on others to get to the top.

“Unlike the other teachers in this school, your attitude toward me and your classmates will factor in to all your grades in every subject.”

The objecting student wants to object again, it is written all over her face as the other students and I can plainly see. With all eyes on her she sets her jaw and straighten up in her seat.

“I believe that you can still be competitive but in our class, it will be required that you compete with integrity. Those of you who are already what other teachers might call ‘good students’ will help those who are struggling students to become better students and in so doing you will become not only better students yourselves but you will become better people because of your willingness to help others.”

If this were a real classroom and I had maybe 15 students, I may be winsome enough to achieve this unity, but the odds are against me. Probably the administration would be against me as well. (unless of course I produced great results ;-)

Amy went on to talk about every summer day to be a precious diamond day with her children. I contend that childhood is SO short that to have shared summer, fall, winter and spring days with my kids for more than 20 years has been precious and almost seems like too few. To say that I am grateful to have had my children at home with me would be an understatement. Instructing them and learning along side them (I became a Christian at 21), growing up with them in the faith and sharing everyday life with them has been a gift, an incredible gift from my Heavenly Father.

Our decision to educate our children at home did not entail any romantic notion of enjoying family life. It was a decision made after looking at all the options available: private, public and home schooling. Prayerfully researching and seeing that the best chance for discipling our children in the LORD was to not just have them at home but walk through life and be in this world along side them.

(to be continued)

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