I have always been different. Not always radically, but always slightly.
I married young. I never worked full-time. I was a stay-at-home wife before children. We had our children close together. After a short stint at preschool, we have never sent our children to an institution. And, after beginning our journey, we unschool.
Some people may look at me and think that I enjoy challenging the status quo. My parents taught me from a young age to look deeper at things and ask why. So perhaps I am predisposed to being different.
But I think, really, the more I have sought God on our life, the more He has asked us to go deeper into being different. And I always said I would go wherever He asked me to go. But sometimes, just sometimes, being different is hard.
I go through periods of time when I feel quite confident in how we homeschool. That is, I see our joyful our days are and the fruit of our children’s learning. It builds my trust in the Lord as I see how His leading brings life and rightness in our family life. It also encourages me that maybe I am not crazy in how I have sensed the Lord leading us, and all the moments when something I’ve read resonated and made sense to me, whether in the Bible or through someone else, it was the Holy Spirit guiding.
But then, I go through periods of time where I freak out and worry that we’re not doing enough, that I am not doing enough. I compare myself to other homeschooling friends, or I feel awkward answering genuine questions, and the arrows of self-doubt come at me red and hot.
I start doubting everything and negating all the wonderful things that have happened over the last months or year, and think, “The children are a little older so now we need to knuckle down and start doing more.” And because I love the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, I start planning and spreading out the feast of books and enrichments. So much of Charlotte Mason’s words ring very true to me and make so much sense. It seems like a no brainer to do them.
I learn my lesson very quickly every time.
Tensions rise, tears are shed, and the self-doubt grows bigger and deeper. Though I can see learning connections and growth, the joy goes away. The connection I sense between my children and I, but particularly in my son, becomes strained. I become even what Charlotte Mason tells me not be – above my children as the teacher. But my insecurities tell me that I am supposed to be the teacher – that is how I know the children will succeed, right? It’s comforts my doubts.
This usually lasts from a few days to a few weeks. When I finally submit to what brings peace to our home, it feels like the beginning of spring – light, joyful, ready to run the hills. Fighting diminishes, I see the learning everywhere again, and we’re a genuinely happy family again. My heart praises the Lord for His patience, kindness, and pattern for our family.
So how do I stop worrying what people think…or be at peace with being different?
I keep my eyes on the Lord.
For awhile now, I know that this may be the single most important reason why we unschool: it keeps me on my knees before the Lord. Instead of relying on myself, my trust in the educational system, or in a curriculum, I am trusting in the Creator and Sovereign God of our children (that are actually His).
I sometimes think that perhaps unschooling is more for me as a mother and Christian, than it is for our children (but that must be a post for another day, I think). But then, I also see the freedom the children are growing up in and I know that the Lord will show them one day that their childhood is a foretaste of the true freedom that awaits them, in their relationship with Christ and in the Heaven to come.
When I hear criticisms and concerns from fellow Christians about unschooling, it is easy to listen and get afraid. But this I always remind myself of when I do struggle with being different: fear does not come from the Lord, but from the Enemy. So if I am worrying and being afraid, then perhaps we’re doing something right for our children and the Enemy is just trying his best to get us off of the Lord’s plans for us.
Now that is fuel for the fire to keep calm and keep unschooling.
How do you deal with being different as a Christian unschooling parent?