We’re just starting our 15th year of homeschooling and I’m completely in love with this way of life. I love being able to spend so much time with my sons and to experience all of their firsts. I love being there for their light bulb moments. I love learning right along with them! But one thing I don’t love is the constant, nagging fear that my boys won’t succeed in life because of me.
This post is going to be different from most of the things I write.
One of the biggest reasons I have a blog is so that I can encourage other homeschool moms who are coming up behind me. Because of this, I don’t often write about my own struggles until after they have been resolved and I can share the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
However, today, I decided I would share something I’m currently dealing with because I believe there are lots of other moms who are also dealing with this fear. Especially moms who are homeschooling older children.
It’s easier to be relaxed about homeschooling when our children are young. But as they approach the end of the high school years, it can be extremely stressful for us moms.
We torture ourselves with these questions:
Did I do enough?
Was our homeschool rigorous enough?
Am I failing my children?
Like I said, I suffer from these same fears. It comes from a desire to want to do the best that I can by my boys and not to hold them back in any way. Unfortunately, these concerns won’t fully go away until my boys have launched into the world, are following God, are able to support themselves, and have settled down with the right girl.
Fortunately, as I ponder my fears, God has brought me a lot of comfort by bringing the following thoughts to mind. I hope these thoughts bring peace to you as well.
Here are 7 Thoughts Which Encourage Me:
1 – We Aren’t Alone
We aren’t doing this alone. Something which has always encouraged me is a story I heard Todd Wilson, the family man, say at a homeschool conference. His son became a biologist without his wife ever teaching him biology! Todd said that if you plant a pumpkin seed, a pumpkin will come up. And if you plant a watermelon seed, a watermelon seed will come up. You never plant a zucchini seed only to have a tomato plant come up.
Our kids are who they are. God has made them who they are for a very specific purpose. No matter what we do or don’t teach them, they will become that person. No matter what experiences they do or don’t have, they will become that person.
2 – Positive Track Record
Homeschooling has a positive track record. Home educated kids generally score higher on standardized tests than do kids who are publicly schooled. They are above average on interacting with their peers, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem. And I hear regularly from homeschooling moms whose graduated children are doing well in life. There’s every reason to believe that my boys will also do well once they leave our home.
3 – No Guarantees
There are no guarantees from any type of school. Only 83% of students in the U.S. even graduate from high school. And only 59% of students have graduated from college after 6 years. So, even if our kids graduate from the local high school, that doesn’t make them any more likely to end up with a college degree. In fact, according to U.S. News and World Report, “Students coming from a home school graduated college at a higher rate than their peers—66.7 percent compared to 57.5 percent—and earned higher grade point averages along the way, according to a study that compared students at one doctoral university from 2004-2009.”
4 – How You Define Success
How should we even be defining success? Graduating from high school? From college? Getting a high-paying job? These are the types of things we often think of as being successful but isn’t having a good relationship with God and with others even more important?
Because we homeschool, we are able to talk about God as much as we want throughout the day. My boys are able to prioritize devotions and church over homework or extra-curricular activities. When you look at what’s really important in life, homeschooling is setting our kids up for true success.
5 – There Will Be Gaps
There will be gaps in any education, no matter how well-rounded. Our goal needs to be to give our kids a love of learning and teach them how to learn so that they can fill those gaps as needed wherever life takes them. Homeschooling is helping us to do this as well because we’re able to give our kids opportunities to spend time exploring things they are passionate about as well as having a say in what they’re studying and how they’re spending their time in order to complete their schoolwork.
6 – They Will Mature
I haven’t fully experienced this yet since my boys are only 15 and 16, however, parents of grown children have told me that our kids mature a lot between the ages of 14 and 18. In fact, more than one person has assured me that they will change as much during that time period as they did from birth to age 4. Think about that! That’s a lot of changing and growing.
Already, I’ve seen my boys grow into amazing young men. The tween years were difficult, but since then, I’ve seen what strong, mature people my boys are becoming. I can only imagine what they will be like once they are men – but from what I’ve seen so far, I’m encouraged.
7 – No Finish Line
Who says that ALL kids need to attend college starting at age 18? Or that if they aren’t ready for college immediately after graduating from our homeschool, that they can never go. There isn’t a finish line to learning. People can and should continue learning even after they would have traditionally graduated from high school.
Our goal should be to help our kids to love learning and to be able to continue training themselves for whatever God has in store for them during their life.
As quickly as technology changes, they will probably need to be prepared to hold jobs that involve things that haven’t even been invented yet.
The fear that we’ve failed our children won’t fully go away until they have launched. However, with the above thoughts in mind, I hope that we can all rest in the knowledge that God loves our children even more than we do and that He will be the one to make sure they receive the information and experiences that they need to accomplish the purpose He has given to them. Our job is to listen to His leading, to obey to the best of our ability, and to enjoy the journey.
How do YOU define success? Do you struggle with wondering whether you are holding your kids back in some way? Or that your weaknesses might create difficulties for your kids? Please leave a comment below.
26 thoughts on “This Homeschool Mom’s Greatest Fear”
Just what I needed to hear! We are in this same stage and it’s wonderful and frightening all at the same time!
Yes, that’s SUCH a good description. Wonderful AND frightening! Maybe we can encourage each other during these years. 🙂
With one son just graduated and the other in his junior year…I am feeling all of these things. Constantly questioning if I did/am doing enough to prepare them. Thanks for this encouraging message today!
You’re so welcome, Susan. I think this is probably the hardest thing about homeschooling. I’m glad I was able to encourage you!
Thank you for being real about this! We decided to do a hybrid school (glorified co-op) where he goes 2 days a week and my son struggled to keep up w/his grade so we moved him down a grade…it’s been so hard to see it objectively and not to blame myself for it. We had to make some hard decisions. He could’ve hung in there w/his peers but we would’ve lost the love of learning and move into a rigid “school” mode and it’s not what we wanted for our child. It helps being reminded that there is more to HSing than academics and that our kids are who they are and we can’t change that. Thank you for the encouragement!
You are so welcome, Amy! I’m glad you were able to make that decision for your son. It’s so easy to second-guess ourselves, isn’t it?!? We made a similar decision for one of our sons this year, who could have graduated at the end of this year. He had plenty of credits on his transcript. But he’ll only be 17 and we all felt like he needed another year of homeschooling under his belt before he would be mature enough to launch into college or tech school or a job. So I can definitely empathize with the situation that you also had to make!
This is great Michelle! I think that those fears are common to all homeschool moms at some point or other, and you’ve offered some great encouragement.
Thank-you, Alison. It’s hard to open up about these fears sometimes but when we do, we usually find out that we are in good company.
As a wife of a homeschool graduate, I have been encouraged by how the Lord has directed each of our steps. He has opened doors and given us opportunities we would not have thought possible. He is the author of our stories, despite where we get our diplomas from. One incredible thing I’ve learned from my husband is to never stop learning, to love that process, and to share that excitement with others, including our children. It’s contagious. 😉
Thank-you, Andrea. And thank-you for sharing your story with us. What a wonderful testimony!!!
Thank you, this encouraged me! Your point about how there will always be gaps is a good one – there’s no such thing as a perfect education, so I can stop striving for one! Also, thank you for the reminder that their relationahip with God and others is most important. I have a 7 and a 2 year old. Blessings, Heidi
You’re so welcome, Heidi! I’m glad I could be an encouragement to you. 🙂
So good, so hard, so fulfilling, so scary-sometimes all in the same hour-homeschooling my kids-one of the best gifts I’ve been given. Thanks for the article. It is so comforting to know you’re not the only one balancing the thrills and the struggles.
You’re welcome, Joie. It’s amazing how encouraging it is to know that we aren’t alone, isn’t it?!? Take care and thanks for taking the time to encourage ME with your comment!
Michelle, I agree with you wholeheartedly! I think when we homeschool from a “fear” approach, we tend to make learning about checking off the boxes, instead of actually learning at their pace and tailored around their interests. I certainly wasn’t ready to make lifelong career decisions at 18, and I don’t think they should be either. This is not a competition, this is life. We don’t need to add stress to our kids by holding them up to someone’s idea of the perfect homeschool graduate. Besides, God’s got this!
Kristen, I love your comments! It is so easy to fall into the check-box mode. I really like your comment that this is life, not a competition. Sometimes it feels like a battle between the textbooks and real life experiences.
Yes, Beth. Great point! This shouldn’t be a competition even though it feels like that’s what some people try to make it into. Thank-you!
You make such a great point, Kristen. I wasn’t ready to make lifelong career decisions at age 18, either. I was pretty mature and I still didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do with my life. I think there’s a lot of peer pressure to come up with a plan because the kids around them are, but how many of those kids will change majors once they get started? Or will get a job in a completely different field than the once they majored in?
And thank-you for the reminder that God’s got this. Yesterday, I posted something on my Facebook page saying that very thing. So reassuring!!!
This was interesting for me as i find little support for this age group. I have 5 children including 17 and 15yo boys and I’m really struggling with the older one as he thinks all he needs to do for the rest of his life is play sport. He cannot see the point in doing research or writing essays so is refusing to write anything more than a couple of lines answering specific questions. I don’t know how much to push him and how much to let him be.
I agree. There isn’t as much support for us moms with teenagers! My oldest son is also 17 so I haven’t made it past that phase, yet. But I do know that they seem to get a lot more accomplished once they see the need for something or take a personal interest. My 17-year-old suddenly decided he wanted to be an author about a year ago and he started working on his writing skills. Before that, it was like pulling teeth to get him to write a paragraph. And suddenly, he’s pumping out a novel.
I went to a local workshop several years back which was taught by a homeschool mom who had launched all of her children successfully and I remember her telling us that she couldn’t get one of her sons to do any math beyond simple arithmetic. She said she tried and tried and eventually she gave up with him. She told him that if he ever needed to go farther with math, he’d have to do some catch up on his own.
Well, this son became interested in computers and ended up getting an apprenticeship at a computer company. He worked there and did really well. After a few years, they wanted him to pursue his degree and he needed to learn a bunch of math fast in order to do it. So, he did. Once he was motivated to do it, he pushed himself and learned what he needed to learn on his own.
Not sure if that story helps you or not. But I hope it is encouraging to you. If your son is interested in sports, try to relate writing to sports. Allow him to write about various aspects of his favorite game. Tell him that he can work toward becoming a Scout or a General Manager or a Coach and then see what kinds of qualifications those types of careers require.
It’s really difficult to back off but our 17-year-olds are almost adults. We really need to be more of a tutor for them than a full-on teacher at this point. Talk to him. Try to find out what he’s thinking. What his plans are for after high school. Oh, him getting a part-time job will also go a long way toward helping him because that responsibility really helps to mature our kids. And it can motivate them to want to receive some type of post-high school training as well.
Also, come up with a plan for once he graduates from your homeschool. We’ve told our sons that they will need to start paying rent unless they are going to college or tech school or some other type of training. We may save this money and give it back to them as a downpayment on a house or something someday. But we thought it was important for them to know that they can’t just give here indefinitely without accomplishing anything.
I hope that helps!!!
Thank you so much! The timing for me to find your blog and this article could not have been better! I have been struggling to the point of stressing myself out and even feeling depressed thinking if I am doing the “right” thing for my son. It is good to be reminded to trust God in all things. I was searching how to know if the courses are right for him, etc. I almost paid someone to tell me if I am doing right but after reading this article, I am going to put it in The Lord’s Hands where it belongs in the first place! What is the definition of “right” anyways? What is right for my son and family might look different than what is right for others. You have made me think and feel much better and energized. Thank you for reminding me that it is not just academics and that homeschooling has many benefits to other, more important, aspects of life. This was God-sent. Thank you!
Oh, I am so glad to hear that. God is so good, isn’t He?!? I’m glad you found me and that I was able to encourage you. Take care and God bless you!
Four of our children are out of the house now, and it’s been a huge struggle as we’ve watched them make decisions that are not at all what we’d hoped/prayed they would make. Our biggest struggle was questioning our part in all of this…what did we do wrong? We don’t feel that we held them back, but did we guide them in the right way? What we finally had to accept is that while we sure did mess up and make some less than stellar choices in areas of parenting, schooling, etc., ultimately our kids are who they are. We tried our best, we apologized when that best wasn’t the best at all, and now we have to stand back and watch them (2 boys, 2 girls) slog their way through the young adult years. One thing I repeat to myself almost daily is that this isn’t the end of their story. This point in their life is when the “shoots” are just coming up out of the dirt. We don’t know if those shoots are for a plant that will be productive and beautiful, or a weed. So we just wait and watch, and hope. We hope we equipped our children with the education they need both academically and with real-life lessons, but what they do with what we gave is up to them entirely. Questioning is part of parenting, from birth all the way through the teen/young adult years. I must say that I would take a dozen teething toddlers over one older teen/young adult. Sorry, but true. These years are like having toddlers all over again, only the kids aren’t as cute or funny and the laundry loads are way bigger as are the attitudes. 🙂
As far as how we define success, for us it is when our children make their own decisions and take responsibility for those decisions. No blaming, no excuses, no whining, no playing the victim. We don’t care if they marry or go to college, we don’t care if they work a high-paying job or not. But they need to “own” their life, whatever they make it to be.
I love your analogy about them being new shoots, Karen. I know there are so many times when I’ve looked at my own sons and have thought they were SO OLD. But years later, you look back and see how young they actually were. Sometimes, I need to actually think back to my own late teens and early twenties and remember how little I actually knew and how irresponsible I was and that encourages me with my sons. 🙂
Thank you for this encouragement. We are embarking on the High School years and your words could not have come at a better time 🙂
You’re so welcome, Julie. Glad I could be an encouragement to you!