Parent’s and student often discuss the college experience when trying to decide what college to attend.
Eleven years ago when our first child began college, we had no idea that all of his siblings would end up attending the same university once they graduated high school. We never talked about it, but God was writing a story through their decisions.
When our last child graduated from the University of Central Florida, they all felt a sense of closeness having shared this season of life together. As Jeannie said, “It was an extension of our home.” Out of the eleven consecutive years of having kids in college, we realized nine of them consisted of 2-3 attending together. The opportunity to foster fun memories was easier when they are all sharing similar events.
Tom and I had a vision of raising kids that would enjoy being together long after they graduated from high school. We were surprised when they echoed comments we spoke around the dinner table as they were growing up during a recent interview by the University of Central Florida. I’ve included a link for you to watch the video and read the full article. The story of Five Knights.
We didn’t know what they were going to use. After watching the video, we realized three things:
Teens listen more than you think
When you tell them why they might enjoy something, they will often consider what you say more
If you create a vision for your family and talk openly about where you’re going, they are more likely to get excited by what they see.
Our story about getting all five kids through college without purchasing a pre-paid college program, getting student loans, or incurring debt has prompted us to share how we did it and how you can too.
I don’t mean to always argue with you. Honest, I don’t. I know you think I’m rebellious. I’m not, I’m just trying to be me. The problem is, I don’t know who I am right now. That’s why I wrote you this note.
I can’t tell you this face-to-face because I love you too much and don’t want to hurt your feelings. I can’t bear to see your eyes tear up when I try to tell you how I feel. It makes it harder for me to talk. So I shut down.
I love you. Oh, I know you can’t tell by the way I act, but I really do.
There comes a time when your teen grows up and moves out. They might be leaving for college, to live with some friends, to get married, or to learn how to manage life on their own. Regardless of the reason parents can strengthen the relationship by preparing them for that day during the teen years.
At a recent speaking engagement I was asked what we did to prepare our teens for life on their own. I had to think about that for a few minutes. I began by reminding the parents that moving out is a normal part of the growing up process. It might be difficult to pack them up and send them on their way, but it will be okay.
That got me thinking, I should share them with you as well. So I put together 7 practical ideas we have used over the years to prepare our children for the day they would move out on their own.
When your toddlers fell into a big mud puddle or intentionally filled their overalls with mud pies, how did you respond? Was there was a smile of disbelief or a look of horror as they climbed into your freshly cleaned van? No matter how hard it was to avoid the temptation of disowning them, under all that mud, there still was your tangled-hair, smiling, freckled, little kids.
As your teens mature, they will get dirty and muddy again. This world is a mess. In reality, they are facing things you did not face in high school. Whether they go to public school or are home educated, they will still have to interact with and learn how to operate in this messy world. I can guarantee you they will fall and get mud all over them. Whether it’s because they jumped in headfirst or someone slung it at them, they now have to deal with the fact that life isn’t as clean and clear as it was when they were younger.
Young people understand that rules need to be in place and adults need to be respected, but they also want to know that their parents won’t disown them because of their mud. Even if your child has been in willful sin for a long while, don’t stop loving them. This will mean the world to them later.
It is exhausting and so incredibly hard to go that extra mile; especially after a rough day and all you want to do is collapse on your bed. You don’t want one more person calling for you to fix their problems. How can you possibly help your confused teenager know that you love them if you don’t even have time or energy to read a book about love languages?
There are different ways to show love. Some of them you probably excel in, while others are harder for you to give. Allow me to help define love for you.
School is in full swing! For some of you bad attitudes, resistance and discouragement have already derailed your well thought out schedule. It’s okay. Those days do happen. Especially when you begin the new school year. By focusing on the five secrets that helped me cross the finish line with all five of my children you can get back on track more quickly.
Homeschooling for 21 years has given me a unique perspective. I have experienced the first-time fears and doubts associated with starting something new, worked my way through the high school years, managed five children on different levels, navigated the college admissions process and sent all five off to college.
I want to encourage you as you begin your new year to keep your eye on the end goal. Don’t be short-sighted. Be mindful of the values, character qualities, and academic pursuits you have in mind.
These are five points I intentionally focused on as I began each year: