Not Living Vicariously Through Our Children
As your teens grow into independence, it can be tough on moms to reframe our thinking. All their lives, our children have looked to us to make decisions for them–from which curriculum to use, to what courses to cover and what activities to sign up for—even what shirt to wear or when to get a haircut. Suddenly, your teen decides he wants to pursue aviation classes or drop Spanish in favor of sign language?
What’s a mom to do?
We homeschooling mothers are a rare breed, and after years of pouring ourselves into our homes, schools, and families, it can be a challenge to let go just a little bit. As our children start to navigate the world on their own, we cannot always be right there with them, nor should we be. There comes a time when we have to trust that all those hours of lesson planning and park days have helped to grow a teen who can make good choices, even if those choices don’t align with our “vision.” Now, I’m not saying you should let go completely. Teens still need guidance, correction, and advice as they encounter more difficult choices. They need you to listen and support them as you share your wisdom and experience.
How do you let go and revise your expectations?
Consider catering your curriculum to meet your teen’s interests. Due to my son’s love for filmmaking, I decided to incorporate the study of film into his high school coursework as a way to craft our curriculum to meet his passions.
Allow them to pursue opportunities. The teen years are filled with possibilities. Give your teen a chance to discover what she likes, as well as the freedom to change her mind.
Let them fail. This could be the most difficult thing to do as a homeschool parent, because we are so vested in our children’s successes. Allow your teens to make mistakes, but be there to support them and guide them back on the right track. Their failures might just be the best lessons they will learn.
Respect their opinions. They might not share the same tastes as you, and as teens grow, they can become especially opinionated about clothing choices, movies, and music. Offer loving guidance, but realize that he or she isn’t your “mini me.”
Nudge them to become independent. Don’t expect to sit beside them in dual enrollment classes or hold their hand when they take their driving test. Encourage them to “get their ducks in a row” themselves. Remind them to write down assignments, study the guide, practice, etc. But don’t do everything for them. (This is one area where those student planners come in handy!)
Rein in your dreams. Do they want to go to college, or do they have an idea for an entrepreneurial venture? Are they considering military service? Maybe they’re thinking about culinary school instead of law school? Remember what your goal is, and what qualities you want your child to attain: happy, healthy, productive, honorable, responsible, trustworthy, and virtuous?
Letting go is possibly the most difficult part of parenting. As teens take on greater responsibilities, be their coach, guide, counselor, prayer warrior, friend, and parent. They still need you, and you still need them. But, don’t try to live their lives for them.
There comes a time when we have to trust that all those hours of lesson planning and park days have helped to grow a teen who can make good choices, even if those choices don’t align with our “vision.”