It is not enough to take an adolescent out of a school environment where they are allowed to say whatever they want, think whatever they want, and do whatever they want. Sure, they will likely get detention or suspended for doing big things like mouthing off to a teacher, refusing to do their work or blowing up a locker. However, what about all the things that they don’t get caught doing? Like obsessing about dating boys or girls, swearing, talking about or having sex (or even kissing), talking about or doing drugs or drinking, etc. They learn quickly that even though they can be accountable for their actions, doesn’t mean that they will be held accountable. Don’t want to do a homework assignment……well, what’s the worst that could happen? Mom said not to get on the internet on the home computer………well, she didn’t say not to look for another way to get on the internet, like my PS3 or an IPod. Our kids begin to play a very dangerous game, with themselves and with us.My kids were actually pretty tame compared to their school mates. Tame pertaining to public school kids, however, as a few of the things that they have done in the past would probably curl the toes of some of the homeschool mothers that I have met. Yet even still, my kids were and are pretty great. Their childhood was steeped in our faith in God. They knew right from wrong, they knew what it meant to honor their parents, and they knew how to be gracious and generous. All was well until middle school……..until the ugliness started to creep its vaporous temptations and rebellion into my children. Why so dramatic? If you have ever had your kids in public school, and at the same time have fought diligently to raise those children as followers of Christ….with morals…..with a conscience….then you know that what I speak of and describe is not meant to be theatrical……but is the work of the Devil.
Slowly, these children whom my husband and I had cared for and nurtured and had given the Word of God to, started to turn away from us. More importantly, as they transitioned into pre-teens and teenagers, they began to turn away from God. We watched in horror as my son and daughter seemed to lose their inner moral compass, and ultimately lose their way. Perhaps there are parents out there that hold the key to keeping their children grounded in their faith and away from worldliness, all while sending them out everyday into our society’s school system……but Dave and I didn’t have that key and nor do we possess it now. We did try, albeit not hard enough, but we gave it everything that we could at the time (or so we thought). Although many of the kids in our children’s classes were just as lost as ours, there were a few who seemed to be doing well despite the odds. Why couldn’t ours? What were we doing wrong?So, we took back our kids and began homeschooling them. We purchased Christian curriculum, had Bible studies, and surrounded ourselves with other Christian homeschoolers (many of those people turned out to have the exact same problems that we were having, and some with worse). We talked and talked and talked with our budding hormonal cherubs, yet they were not getting on board with this new lifestyle as quickly as I would have liked. My oldest daughter and I took to wearing skirts to be ‘modest’, we adopted a ‘three-strike’ policy on all of the movies, TV and music that we watched and listened to, we even muddled through very awkward sessions of ‘family devotions’ until we found our groove. But still, we were not like the Duggars (I had gotten it into my head that we would somehow morph into the 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th member of the Duggar family). After three years, my kids could not recite the zillion Bible verses I was requiring them to memorize, they could not write a research paper at the age of 12 that was worthy of a college professor, they were not ‘best friends’ with each other, and they still could not accomplish everything on their school schedule in a given day. Not long after my second child began her 15th year on this earth, I began to understand what was wrong. With hormones raging, she yelled at me, “I am so tired of you comparing us to these ‘perfect homeschool children’ that you read about on the internet. D.J. and I will never be the studious or unfailingly obedient children like the Duggar kids are, even though we really want to be in theory. You will never be Michelle Duggar……you are loud and goofy by nature, even though we are so proud of you for even trying. We lived like other kids in public school for a long time, and it’s going to take a long time to change the way we are into what you want us to become. Yet, we haven’t done drugs, haven’t dishonored God or ourselves with physical relationships, we don’t drink and we love God and want to obey Him. Please Mama, why can’t we just be us…….are we so bad?”
Cue the many tears and the many heartfelt talks that my family had after Casey’s outburst. It came out that my husband felt that he could never live up to Jim Bob Duggar’s example……even though he thought that it was a great example……but, he felt beat down and discouraged whenever he measured himself against this man. My son felt like an outcast for having the desire to date and have girlfriends. In trying to cram us into a “Good Christian Homeschool Family”, I had neglected to see that I already had a good Christian homeschool family, that was filled with exceptional people. Here is a real and true picture of my kids:1. They were not unspoiled like most kids who have been homeschooled from the beginning, and who are not exposed to unsavory things in public school……but they had enough strength from God to remain untouched and pure for marriage, then and now.
2. They have enough obedience to us (as their parents), and to God (as their Savior) to diligently try to reclaim themselves from the world. They do not always win the battle against the Devil and themselves, but they walk up to the plate and swing that bat again and again. We have recently gone on a 30-Day Challenge to refrain from all television, movies and music that does not directly glorify God……..and they didn’t run away or stage a riot! PROGRESS!3. They have finished several subjects in almost four years…..whoo-hoo! I gotta tell ya, homeschooling is hard. It’s even harder when the teacher/mom has ADHD. Science is boring…..well let’s just skip it and watch a movie! Don’t understand math……we will just try again next week, who wants to go to the beach! It might not be as bad as that, but wrangling two teens who swear that they know more that you, that a particular subject is pointless, and who takes so many bathroom breaks that you threaten to tie them to their chairs……is back-breaking and mind-numbing work. Don’t let anyone fool you!
Sorry, I sort of ranted there for a minute, back to the point…….the kids have finally gotten the swing of things and they are finishing their school work and progressing each year to the next level as appropriate. We are still working on the schedule that I have implemented into our day after reading, “Managers of Their Homes” by Teri Maxwell. I still feel like a drill sergeant blowing his whistle every time I announce, “It’s time to change classes!”, but it comes with the territory. You can learn about this book here: http://www.titus2.com/managers-of-their-homes.html4. They are sweet and kind and loving and generous. They always have been. Often times, I would come home utterly exhausted from a very hard day of painting, and they had surprised me with a clean house and dinner on the table…….and they were only 11 and 12 at the time. Other times, they would surprise us with funny or thoughtful situations to make a hard day better. Once they dressed up as Santa Claus and Rudolf, met us at the door when we arrived home from work and led us into a winter wonderland that they had created, complete with tons of paper snowflakes and decorations. Another time, they staged a French restaurant in our house, with a hostess station, menus, a candlelit dinner table, and a delicious homecooked meal made by Chef Casey (our oldest daughter)……..it was beautiful! They do the same sort of things for their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. All who know them, know them to be such giving kids…….makes a Mamma proud! 5. They are working on their attitudes. Let me just warn all of those parents out there who have kids that have been exposed to worldly things…….even if you are doing your best to undo all of that worldly damage……THE AGE OF 15 IS HORRIBLE!! At least it was for my family. Perhaps if terrible attitudes in your children do not develop at the age of 15, then watch out for the age of 16, or the age of 17 or well, you get the picture. In all seriousness, I think that a huge surge of hormones erupt in teens around this age, and if you have not taught them how to be quiet and calm from a young age (like Michelle Duggar and her kids….God bless them), then you are going to be hard pressed to get them to react quietly and calmly to the new-found emotions that emerge around adolescence. My son went through it first (and I thought I would go insane) and then a year later, my daughter is currently holding the honor (and I am definitely teetering on insanity…..as girls are much more vocal than boys!). Again, they are working on these attitudes, and I am working on not yelling at them when they give me said attitudes 🙂 When Casey had her major meltdown, it made me realize that I needed major help in dealing with the teen years. I was still tackling the “Meek and Quiet Spirit” that Michelle Duggar and Kelly Bates have so graciously displayed on their respective shows (and I am still attempting to be meek and quiet), but I needed a more laid-out-for-me approach. I found it in Steve and Teri Maxwell’s book, “Keeping Our Children’s Hearts” which was a Godsend. If you need help with turning your children’s hearts back to you and your spouse, no matter the age of the child, then this is a must read. You can find it here: http://www.titus2.com/keeping-our-childrens-hearts.html
6. They are striving to be more diligent in their chores. At present, I will not lie, they are driving me crazy with this. How many more chore reminders, rewards and schedules can one mother come up with? Any tips, tricks, or prayers would be most welcomed! I even clipped “Chore Packs” onto these almost-grown-teenagers in my desperate attempt to tame these unruly beasts……but to no avail. For those that don’t know, Chore Packs are a tool that Teri Maxwell uses to help younger children learn about chores. She wrote about it in her book, “Managers of Their Chores”, and she would probably get a big laugh about the fact that I am using it on my hardheaded teens. You can read about her awesome book here: http://www.titus2.com/managers-of-their-chores.html7. They are committed to ‘Dating with a Purpose’, instead of dating. This is a tough one, as we have not found a network of like-minded people. I find my kids different things to get involved in, so that they can be with other homeschool teens their age. However, that does not mean that they have found many others who believe in no physical relationships before marriage or people who do not participate in casual dating. This is probably their biggest trial, as they yearn for companionship with peers…..not in a physical sense (although, I’m sure they are dreaming of their life mate as well) but in a “I’m-not-the-only-homeschooler-who-is-struggling-with-this” way. Please send up some prayers for us, that we find a church home soon.
8. Finally, they have become best friends. I had purchased a book entitled, “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends” by Sarah, Harold and Stephen Mally. They are sweet homeschoolers who have it all figured out when it comes to getting along with your siblings. Funny thing is…….I never got a chance to read it, because miraculously my two oldest children figured this one out on their own! They still snip at each other, and will rise to the shouting occasion if baited, but for the most part they have become friends……who knew!If you are like my family, a Christian homeschool family that prays they are making a difference in their teen’s lives and spiritual well-being, then please reach out to others like us. If you have a blog…..write about it and share your ideas and experiences. If you have homeschooling friends with teens, then talk about it openly and honestly. My daughter is convinced that other families are having these problems, but just don’t want to come out and say it. If your family has homeschooled for a while, and these problems are not present in your teenager’s lives……then share your tips on your child-rearing, as we desperately want to learn from your success. There is no shame in humbly correcting past mistakes…….Jesus forgives us of everything in our past and blesses us as we go forward in His name.
Feeling judged by fellow homeschoolers who seem to be doing it better than you? Don’t be. They are probably unaware that you feel judged, and they would most certainly put your mind to rest if they knew. Take heart in this verse:
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I do not receive any compensation at the present for referring these awesome books and great people. They have just seriously helped my family and I get straight on our homeschooling journey. They are real, and they are willing to give it to us straight.