It saddens me when I hear homeschool parents pouring out their hearts with their struggles. Whether their problems are time management, discipline issues, curriculum woes, or money problems; they all lead to striving.
1828 Webster’s Dictionary (to) strive:
- To make efforts; to use exertions; to endeavor with earnestness; to labor hard; applicable to exertions of body or mind. A workman strives to perform his task before another; a student strives to excel his fellows in improvement.
- To contend; to contest; to struggle in opposition to another; to be in contention or dispute; followed by against or with before the person or thing opposed; as, strive against temptation; strive for the truth.
Striving for security, pride, and/or perfection brings nothing but longing and discontent.
In my years of listening to homeschool moms there seems to be two common motives for these struggles:
- A feeling of inadequacy due to comparison, peer pressure, or criticism.
- A feeling of superiority over others, whether that be other homeschoolers, public schoolers, or just people in general.
I am here today to tell you that NEITHER of these motives will get you very far in educating your children.
When we sit back and evaluate our motives for educating our children, we need to be very honest with ourselves.
We need to understand that motives based in grief, comparison, and self will rob us of the joys that come from homeschooling and parenting.
Here is a little quiz for you. Are you (or your kids) currently experiencing any of these as a result of homeschooling?
- Lack of desire to do schoolwork/housework/etc.
- Inability to concentrate on tasks
- Lack of energy
- Moodiness and irritability
- Emotional withdrawal
- Feelings of meaninglessness
These are all signs of stress and burnout, and they originate in striving for the wrong reasons.
And the problems and frustrations don’t always end when we become aware of these motives. Oftentimes we fool ourselves into thinking we can try another program, or read a book, or push through to a better homeschool experience.
It’s a brutal succession of events that lead to even worse conditions.
(Did you notice I said *we*? I include myself because I am not immune to these motives.)
So how exactly do we bring the joy, calmness, clarity, purpose, and confidence back into our homeschooling?
It starts with an awareness that something is off-kilter. Something in our heart is not right- towards our children, towards other people, and towards ourselves.
It continues with an examination of our purpose and priorities. What are the things that matter? What should we be focusing on? What are our goals for life, education, and society?
It becomes fruitful with the joyful application to your individual situation. Every family is different. Every child is different. Homeschooling by another person’s plan or purpose through comparison, flattery, or longing will start the vicious cycle all over again.
We need to keep reminding ourselves that homeschooling should bring us JOY!