You are not a homeschooler. I know you thought you were, but that’s not what is really happening.
The truth is, you are the parent of a homeschooler, and your kids are the ones who are doing school at home.
I know - I do it too. There are dozens of places on this very blog where I refer to myself as a 'homeschooler'. But it's not the term itself I'm objecting to. I mean, what else would I call myself?
The problem is when we take more upon ourselves than is necessary or healthy for us and for our kids.
While parents are responsible to care for, nurture, teach, guide, and provide for our children, we can’t and shouldn’t do for them what they should learn to do for themselves. Their education is one area where they should be learning more than reading, writing, and math. They can take ownership of their education and be responsible to prepare for their future.
As parents, we say “No” when appropriate, and stand firmly by our standards of moral and ethical conduct. However, there are many areas where we can teach our kids how to offer suggestions and negotiate a compromise. In other words, teach them how to disagree with you respectfully, and allow them have an opinion.
Children learn decision making skills by making decisions and feeling the consequences, both good and bad, for those decisions. If you don’t allow your child to experience pain, sorrow, or negative repercussions, then they won’t be able to deal with it in a constructive way as adults. Let them fall and fail while the results are a poor performance on a test, a skinned knee, a broken toy, a fight with a friend, instead of standing in the unemployment line, wrapping their car around a tree, or going through a divorce.
Children learn responsibility and empathy by doing things for themselves and others. Caring for their possessions, fixing their own meals, meeting homeschool goals and deadlines, and sharing in the workload of managing a home are essential components of the child developing into an adult.
Our children are preparing for their futures - not mine, not my husband’s, not their grandparents, and not their siblings. It’s their life, their education, and they need to take responsibility and feel a sense of accomplishment when they’ve completed a task or mastered a concept. Constantly standing over them or holding their hand will stunt their growth as a student and a person. And when they get older, Mom hovering and wiping their chin is just icky.
Children should not be our source of fulfillment. Obviously we love our children and find joy in their successes and their happiness. But my happiness, my inner contentment is not on their shoulders. I find contentment and joy in Jesus Christ, in loving Him and obeying His Word, in serving others when and where I can. No one else should ever bear the burden of making us happy, and our children can't be expected to bear that burden while also trying to become a responsible, educated adult.
On the flip side, we are not responsible for our children’s happiness. They must find Jesus Christ as their personal Savior based on their understanding and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. They should discover their own sources of joy, satisfaction, and definition of success. We can teach, nurture and guide, and help them fulfill their potential with advice, resources, and opportunities, but there are boundaries that even parents should not attempt to cross. We can't live their lives for them, and shouldn't want to.
Children learn respect by experiencing it from us. We must respect the authority of our children as autonomous individuals. They are not appendages, and they are not property. Respect is mutual, and must flow both ways. Requiring respect while not giving it is extortion, plain and simple. Demanding compliance with every preference or opinion you have is an abuse of your parental authority, and will not reap the results you hope for. Eventually your children will have to learn to think for themselves, and they will not thank you for ignoring their need to become their own person.
Working yourself out of the role of parent is the most difficult and selfless thing you can do for your children. It is especially important as a homeschooling parent that our children know this homeschooling thing is about them, not us.