A longtime friend, who is also a dedicated and intelligent homeschool mom, told me recently about an epiphany she had. It resulted in changes to how she approaches her homeschooling and childrearing.
I smiled when I heard what she had to say, because it echoes my own journey.
Here’s the deal. People homeschool for various reasons. Some people start out knowing that homeschooling is what they want to do with all the prime years of their lives, and they never look back. That’s great. If that’s you, congratulations!
But for many of us, although we readily embrace homeschooling, we also understand that there is a Road Not Taken, as Robert Frost would say.
Those of us in the second camp can’t help but also think about the sacrifices. There are other things we are interested in and would love to do, and know that we could possibly do those things successfully. In fact, we sometimes think we would be better at doing those “other things” than we are at homeschooling!
But nothing matters more than our children, and we think that homeschooling is best for them. So we give up everything else, at least for a season, which is often a very, very long season.
Because we are cognizant of the fact that we are giving up a lot of other things, we determine to be Very Successful at homeschooling.
After all, homeschooling needs to be worth all of the sacrifices.
We place a lot of expectations on our homeschooling and on our children themselves.
These expectations can often create really unhealthy, high-pressure situations in our homes, and in our closest relationships.
My friend, like me, came to realize that she was putting too many expectations on her children and projecting too much of herself on her children. Once she realized that, she made changes and learned to let go of some of her expectations.
“Now I feel like all of me is back in my own basket,” she said.
This is my story too. A few years ago, I was really burned out and realized I wasn’t enjoying my kids as much as I should be. I was placing too much of my identity on my kids’ performance. I made some changes. I decided to outsource some things and also be better about embracing my kids’ own personal dreams, and also their limitations.
It is important to encourage excellence. But this looks different for each child, as he or she works to achieve a personal best.
Once I let go of my unrealistic expectations, and stopped linking my kids’ performance to my own identity, I felt a great sense of peace.
Then, at that point, I just had to get over the realization that I wasted a lot of good years having unhealthy expectations and also some level of friction in my relationships with my kids.
I wished I could re-do those years. I wanted them back.
Hopefully I can save some of you some angst and regret by sharing this story.
Are you putting pressure on your kids to be high achievers? Are you making your kids’ performance part of your own identity? If so, this is not a healthy place to be.
What would it feel like, to have all of yourself back in your own basket? How would that affect your life, your relationships, and your stress levels?
Your kids will fail at some things. This is part of life, and they will grow when they fail. They will also be successful at things. In the end, they will be fine. Give them freedom and room to be their own person. Celebrate them for who they are. Accept their limitations.
Although some of our kids struggle, and some of them are truly gifted, most of them are just average. That is the truth of the matter.
“We need to learn to celebrate our average kids.” Local author and speaker Marianne Miller said this a few years ago. I will never forget it.
As parents, we see so much potential in our kids. That’s good! But we also need to learn to fully embrace our average children.
Our kids need a framework to be able to learn and grow. Give them that. Sit back and watch them as they work through that. Outsource some stuff if you need to. Encourage your kids and be their cheerleader, without feeling like everything rests on your shoulders.
Because it doesn’t.
You be you, and let your children be who they are. This is a recipe for greater happiness.
My daughter with her mini-me doll.
Photo Credit: iStock. Following photo courtesy of author.