“Do-over!” How many times did you say that phrase as a kid? And how many times were you granted that coveted do-over? My husband and I have just been given a parenting do-over, and since we adopted our sweet girls, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I will do differently this time around. The next few weeks, I will be looking at different parenting issues and discussing what I’m doing the same and what I’ve considered changing as I parent my girls.
(Not) Living the Dream
Imagine sitting at the kitchen table with your young children. They look at you wide-eyed, their clean, smiling faces eager to soak in all that you have to teach them today. Every day they awake on time, make their beds and get dressed, helping one another through their daily tasks. Each moment is a new adventure in learning and growing as you impart precious words of wisdom to your inquisitive little ones. That was the scene in our home many years ago. In my dreams. Before I had children.
I may have held onto that dream for a while after our first son was born, but when I gave birth to twins a few years later, there was no denying that our lives had forever changed and this parenting thing wasn’t going to be anything like I had envisioned. We very quickly entered survival mode, and just trying to get the laundry done and put dinner on the table each night became my new goal.
Once it became clear that I wasn’t parenting a houseful sweet children who were hanging on my every word and sweetly obeying each command, I was pretty sure that the homeschooling thing wasn’t for me. So the question arose, “Where will we send them to school?” We live in a state that offers lots of choices, and that can be overwhelming. We really floundered as we tried to decide which option was best for our family. Here’s what that looked like for our oldest:
Grades 1-5, Christian School
Grade 6, Homeschool
Grades 7-8, Charter School
Grades 9-10, Public High School
Grades 11-12, Early College
Yes, we tried it all. We really couldn’t afford Christian school but I was too overwhelmed with his three younger brothers to homeschool. So why didn’t we just send him to public school? FEAR. We were afraid of what he would experience in public school. But as we considered where to send him for high school, he said he wanted to try the local public school, and for lack of another option, we agreed. He later told us, “I saw things and heard things and learned things there that I never wanted to know.” But guess what? That experience helped shape the man he is today. He saw a side of America’s youth that he hadn’t really seen anywhere else: the hurting, lost, and broken. It gave him a sense of purpose and propelled him toward his future. He is now out of college and serving as a youth pastor in addition to running Valued Clothing, a company he started to spread the message that all people have value. Learn more about Valued here, and see his guest blog post here.
As a former elementary school teacher, I envisioned myself being very involved in my children’s classrooms. When my kids actually got into school, my commitment didn’t look at all like I had anticipated. Sure, I volunteered for school carnivals and book fairs, went on a few field trips and helped with holiday parties. But I didn’t go to a single PTA meeting and never really got to know the teachers or other parents. Do you know why? Because I hadn’t made a solid choice about where I wanted them to be.
Two Big Changes
So much could be said about our experiences with many different schooling options but I will leave you with these two take-aways that I will be implementing with our girls:
First, once you make a choice, own it. Jump in, get involved, and become a part of the community. Does that mean there will never be time for a change? Not necessarily, because needs change as children and families grow, and what’s best for one child may not work for another. But you’re less likely to hop from school to school if you and your children feel planted where you are.
Second, and most important, never make decisions based on fear. Look into your options, pray about which is best for your child, and then make a choice. Don’t stress and worry about whether you’ve done the right thing. Trust God with your precious babies. He knows each one’s needs and can use any experience to fulfill His purpose for their lives.
I am happy to share our experiences with all the different schools we tried. If you are seeking what’s best for your family and have questions, shoot me an email. I’ll answer the best I can!
Part Two Coming Soon
Come back next week as I jump right into a topic that always seems to cause controversy: discipline.