The weather that day was not particularly memorable. It was April 4, 1999, and it was Easter Sunday. As tradition dictated, our family dressed in matching spring colors and loaded into the car for church. Our family looked ideal. Husband, wife, and three little girls under the age of four. I don’t remember the service, but I vividly recall the drive to my father’s house to celebrate the holiday.
My husband and I got into a terrible fight. Upon arrival, more ugly words were exchanged, and I took our three-month-old baby and drove home, leaving hubby and two older kids. I was not a Christian. I was a southern gal, and that meant once you had kids, you went to church. I was a hurting woman with a past full of abuse and pain.
That afternoon I sat at home alone and read the Scriptures, desperate for life to change. The Lord drew me, and the blinders on my eyes were lifted. I saw myself as a sinner and called upon the Lord for salvation. I became a child of God.
Fast forward a few months to the day we decided to homeschool. I bought the phonics and math books for kindergarten and read through the teacher manual. Simple enough, I got this.
By the third day, though, I realized I did not possess the most important teacher requirements. These requirements are not offered as a degree option at higher education institutions, nor are they easily learned through books. Patience, humility, and wisdom are the qualities that were missing from my teacher toolkit.
Parenting & Homeschooling Lessons
That was over fifteen years ago. Today my family is a bit larger with three girls and two boys. We’ve celebrated two graduations and continue to school my three younger children. But as I reflect back over our journey of homeschooling, I think I am the one who has come away with a “higher” education.
Homeschooling, as an offshoot of parenting, has been the ideal setting in which I’ve learned a few long-lasting lessons.
In homeschooling, the definition of patience is not confined to waiting with calmness while my seven-year-old figures out the math problem. Patience is recognizing the need to put my own desires on the back burner and serve my children. It is not simply a reaction to a specific circumstance or a practiced response. Patience is a way of thinking that guides our choices. It’s a daily, and even hourly, required skill.
To my surprise, amazing relationships of love and trust with each child have been the result of patience! Over the years, there were times I failed miserably, but even then, the situation gave opportunity to learn another character trait.
Early on in homeschooling, I was a new Christian, and I messed up more than I did right. Each morning started with Bible reading, prayer, and journaling. I was learning what it meant to admit wrong without blaming, deflecting, or justifying. These beautiful lessons learned at the feet of Jesus were instrumental in my interactions with our children.
When patience didn’t lead the way, humility often followed as I admitted wrong to my children and asked for forgiveness. Years later, I realized I was doing much more than giving an apology. I was training my children how to respond to failure, take responsibility, forgive, and press on. This type of education cannot be purchased in a curriculum.
Training children when they are young requires diligence and repetition. But as they grow into the tween and teen years, it takes on a new form. In these years, training becomes a series of random conversations about the most interesting topics and requires a great deal of wisdom to navigate. Little did I know, the years of practicing patience and humility, in all sincerity, would naturally result in wisdom.
Wisdom is not simply knowing right from wrong. Wisdom is walking through the experiences of life with God and responding accordingly. This isn’t a characteristic that comes by chance, by age, or by training. It’s a deep relationship with Christ that slowly, over time, changes our core to be more like him.
As I reflect on my life since that Easter Sunday, I am often brought to tears. I was a desperate and broken woman who was rescued by the arms of Jesus! I spent a great deal of time pouring over the Scriptures, journaling, and learning from each situation life brought about. In the process, I received an education of my own.
Spending time with Jesus and learning from him has allowed me to navigate parenting and homeschooling with patience, humility, and wisdom. And that has been the key to both teaching and developing meaningful relationships with my children.