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:
Statistics show parents tend to think their teens have life so easy. I can see why some would; teens are often given cars, cell phones, computers, and a host of gadgets that connect these relationally driven young people to the world. Even though they may have more technology most parents just don’t understand the struggles teens face every single day. I recognize their struggles may not be as complex as what adults have to work through… but to our teen, it’s just as difficult.
Teens are bombarded with information on a continual basis. Yet having the ability to fully process all that comes their way is more than they are usually able to handle. In some ways, it is like giving a 12 year old the keys to the car when they haven’t learned the rules of the road and can’t see over the dashboard. They may think they can drive, but I doubt many parents would agree.
Teens don’t have the processing capabilities that their parents have. While they want to have more and more freedom, they simply might not be ready for it.
So what’s a parent to do? I encourage you to try and understand how you can help them!
Many of you know the struggle, the struggle with Raising an Artist. You have a child whom you’re concerned will struggle in school, they may have trouble focusing on lessons because they can’t help but stare out the window and daydream, and they’re always managing to turn every blank space in your home into an art canvas or musical instrument. I was that child, and I’m here to give you a few tips on helping yours!
1) Don’t Over-Test/Analyze Them: While every child is different, I can tell you what worked/didn’t work for me growing up. My Momma lovingly homeschooled me all 12 years of school, and what a great advantage I had there. And trust me, in as much as you may spend your time fretting and wondering what possible career paths your child can have a future in, the artsy child (if anything like me) spends just as much time wondering the same thing. Mom put me in every kind of test she could to try to help me hone in on what I am good at, and what I found out was probably more discouraging than helpful at the time. I recall one of the results I was given was a florist. A florist! I’m pretty sure most kids don’t aspire to use their creative gifts to arrange flowers. I had different hopes. My point is not to say that strength/personality test-taking is bad, it’s just to say use caution, you don’t need to put your child on a career path in grade school, nor do you want to unintentionally put them in a box. Rather, help invest in their gifting and allow them to explore their interests. For me it took years of trial and error for the puzzle pieces to start to make sense.
Ever notice how we seem to talk at our teens, instead of with them? I know I’m guilty of it, and I’ve definitely seen this happen with other families too: a parent talking to their teen as they just stand there with their arms crossed and a blank stare on their face. You can tell those kids aren’t listening; they are tolerating.
Parents, that’s not a conversation… and I know that’s it’s probably not the communication you strive for. My desire, like yours, is for something much deeper. I want a relationship, a conversation that freely flows both ways. And I’m not referring to the yelling kind.
If we long for this kind of relationship then why do we do this to our teens?
I understand how frustrating this stage of parenting can be. But, if you really want to cultivate a conversation then you might consider changing your approach.
That’s where we, as parents, get to make our daily interactions different. Here are three practical ways that we actually used with all five of our teens.
Learning to listen to your children is one of the most important things you can do to strengthen your relationship. Your children need you, no matter their age, and will continue to need you even as they reach adulthood and begin their own families. One of the ways you can be there for them is to listen to them. Truly listen.
This is difficult, I know. There are a lot of people and activities competing for our time that create a number of hindrances to really listening. Here are a few I’ve noticed in my own life: (more…)
In a world full of devices and non-stop connecting…They still call Mom.
One day you are wrapping your arms around your child to comfort them for a skinned elbow, or making them a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or putting on a colorful Band-Aid that fixes anything. Now, you are receiving late night texts from your young adult child asking for prayer about a heart-breaking relationship. It appears our older, wiser mentors were right when they said, “Challenges of parenting do not go away when the kids get older; they just get more complex.”
This is what I was told many times.
Now that my children are older I find myself echoing similar statements.
In my early years of parenting, when I passed up opportunities to be more involved outside the home, I questioned my decisions.
Invitations to sit on boards in the community or serve on committees at church were carefully considered so that I could have the time, and energy to avail myself to training the hearts of my children and cultivating our relationships. The early morning time readings, conversations and prayers, the talk-time in the cars on the way to co-ops and sporting events, the hanging out on the couch in the very late evenings because that’s when they liked to open up and share their deepest thoughts—all these cumulative moments and hours helped cultivate a heart in my children to maintain a relationship with me even now.
When they were younger, the focus was on teaching worldviews, Biblical truths, and basic life disciplines. That focus continues but now with more emphasis on listening, encouraging and supporting. It is a rich blessing, a high calling and a beautiful ministry.