Friday, July 30, 2010

Home school ponderings

It's that time of year, when my spirit is quickening. Am I choosing the right curriculum, am I doing too much, too little, outside the home, inside the home, too many friends, too little, do we have their hearts, or just their minds? The Tapestry of Grace curriculum has been on my list of "want-tos" for several years, even before they finished writing it. Mainly because it was written for many ages to be taught all at once, starting at Creation and cycling around every 4 years like I have been doing, and because it keeps building on what they've learned. But then the co-op comes in. Where does that fit in, how much can we do. Lord, help my get my mind around it and ask for help where I need to. Here's a blog on the Tapestry website that meant a lot to me as we're trying to challenge our 2 teens. Marcia is the founder of TofG and the entirety of her blog can be found HERE.

As I was producing the Socratic Discussion webinar that is due to go online on August 1, I got into the topic of how important it is to give students the dignity of allowing them to honestly question, disagree, and make mistakes aloud. It’s been my observation that many Christian homeschooling moms (and dads) seem unwilling to allow their older students to challenge, explore, and think their own thoughts. Their impulse is to rebuke, repress, correct quickly, or deny spoken thoughts or opinions that would challenge Christianity, or doubt God or the Bible. What I’ve observed, over the years, is that this squelching approach to the teen years can have sad consequences. Repressing our teens’ doubts and questions concerning Christianity during these crucial years, or feeding them too quickly with stock theological responses to what to them are deeply emotional issues, may silence teens’ mouths, but it won’t answer the cries of their hearts, or stop them from continuing to ponder. In fact, repressing teens’ verbal expressions is one of the quickest ways to lose their hearts entirely, and by extension, our ability to influence them.My guess, from my experience with many moms at conventions and several good friends near to home, is first of all that this repression is largely unconscious. Moms who consistently and instantly correct, adjust, and challenge their teens’ comments think of themselves as continuing a process of teaching and training that began when their teens were born. Moms are concerned that their teens embrace the truths of the Bible, which they know to be authoritative and true, as well as the source of blessing and wisdom for an entire lifetime. It’s easy to continue tried-and-true methods and approaches to our teens that worked well when they were kids, even as they are outgrowing childhood. We can miss that a change is occurring; we can disrespect our teens because we are in the habit of treating them like children. “Do what I say, because I say it, and because I’m your mother, and children obey their parents in the Lord because this is right!” Our goals are good, our desires are fine, but when good desires turn to bad demands, we can actually end up working against the Spirit.

To gain our teens’ trust, I believe, a parent needs to focus on two crucial things: 1) trusting God–and thus not giving way to fears that will tempt us to err–and 2) giving our children the dignity of allowing them to form for themselves their own worldview.

Let me hasten to add that I don’t believe in a total “hands off” approach. We need to walk with our teens closely every day of their lives, and set before them an example of a vibrant, growing, authentic (but not perfect!) Christian. What I’m getting at in this post is something deeper than mere biblical instruction: I’m addressing the change in your relationship with your son or daughter during this season from one of benign dictator to one of fellow pilgrim on the road to the Celestial City.

The first of these two is crucial: we simply must grow ever deeper in our trust of God. I believe that the primary reason that most of us moms lose our kids’ love and disrespect them during the teen years is because we fail to trust God moment by moment. We so easily slide from gospel-centered thinking (where we remember that God alone determines who is saved) to believing that our words/actions during parenting primarily determine whether or not our child will be saved.

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