“The difficulty of the journey sometimes turns out to be the blessing.”
— Marianne Williamson
It’s been a rough start to the school year.
Even though our school season has similar qualities year after year, I am surprised by how different this year feels. My Challenge student is in a different place, desiring more independence, more ownership, and absolutely less mom. I know this is a good thing. Still, we find ourselves at odds with the awkward position of my son determined to do things his way and me watching it unfold—the good and the bad.
When you combine an academically challenging year with a full blown teenager, you get the perfect storm of homeschooling. It all started with a simple thank you note that I asked my son to write. All was fine until I noticed that he had flipflopped the postage stamp and the return label. My feedback was met with deep sighing and eye rolling.
Then there was my editing of the literature paper. This quickly morphed into “I can’t do anything right, I am a complete failure.” What sent him over the edge was when he realized he had completed all of his math homework incorrectly and had to do it all over again. This launched him into claims of never getting into college and certain homelessness because he couldn’t even write a simple thank you note.
Deep breath, Mama.
My first reaction was to jump in and help, encourage, and fix the problem. But after thinking about it a little more, I realized failure is exactly what we want our kids to experience. Instead, I asked if he needed my coaching. Then I took a step back and waited.
Separating the emotion from the issue is hard for me. I want to boost his self-esteem; I want to prop up his every good quality. But I know I am doing him a disservice by pretending his effort doesn’t need work. Developing resilience, overcoming failure and developing character are essential skills to learn during the homeschooling journey. Even though I am not assigning a grade for rolling with the punches or sloshing through difficult stuff, those things are just as important as Algebra II and British Literature. Maybe more so.
Fittingly, we have been reading Joshua right now. We have been discussing how repeatedly God reminded Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” We talked about how hard Joshua must have had it. He had to follow in Moses’ footsteps. God was asking him to lead His people into the Promised Land after 40 years of waiting. He had to fight many battles and conquer foreign lands. He was out of his comfort zone. But over and over again, despite trials and failures, the Lord encouraged him to “be strong and courageous.”
As we homeschool through the high school years, our kids and our parenting are going to be challenged like never before. We are going to have fantastic fails and triumphant victories and everything in between. As parents, we have the soul pressing work of guiding our kids daily through the forests of launching into life. That comes with trials. But we, like Joshua, can choose to keep our eyes on the Lord and remain strong and courageous through it all.