Friday, June 26, 2009

Parenting...The Advanced Course

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth." 3 John 4
How many of us have ever said, "If I only could do it all over again?" If you have raised a child into adulthood (or even into those teen years) I think just maybe you have. I know I have thought that more than a dozen times. The thing is, I got that chance. Not with my can not go backwards, but with our second set of children. If I look back, I can honestly say I was a good mom. A very good mom no matter what standard you set. I would like to say before I even get started here, that each child is different and sometimes NO MATTER WHAT you do, that child may end up heading down a rough road by his own choices. Still, after raising 2 boys and watching my friends and family raise dozens of children into adulthood, I think I have some definite guidelines I grabbed onto this time around.
The first thing, and the biggest difference this time around, is that my children are home schooled."We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone {our children} with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone {our children} perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:28-29 ( addition) NIV
I am not here to bash public or private schools. They are absolutely vital for most families. I am blessed to be able to home school my children. The reality is, I could have home schooled my boys too. I did home school Kyle at a certain time in his life, as the program available could not or would not meet his needs. My purpose in home schooling Charlotte and Zach is completely different. The public schools could give them a wonderful education. It could also give them an education I do not want them to have. That of a social learning. I sent Bud to public school his entire life, minus 3rd grade where he attended a Christian school. We lived in a small town where the public schools had one of the highest ratings in the state. He was offered a TOP notch education. "Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." 1 Corinthians 15:33
He graduated and went into the Army. My son was very active in sports, and church groups. He was popular with the boys and the girls and had a very busy social life. He was a good boy by worldly standards. His goal at 15 years old was to be a youth Pastor. He attended youth conferences and he never missed a Sunday or mid week service in his first 18 years of life. I found out later, he often snuck out of the house at night, was drinking by 17, started smoking at 16, was introduced to drugs by the Pastor's son, and had his first run in with the police with that same Pastors son...nothing major...caught swimming in a rock quarry in the middle of the night. He was to be at our Pastors home...they snuck out of there too. In the end my son is a good man, raising a family and working hard. He is also a prodigal. My heart is heavy for him. Could I have done anything different? I don't know. I do know I did my best. Now my best has changed.
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV
I can pick out a home schooled kid a mile away. They are all, for the most part, extremely polite, they are all very close to their siblings, treating each other with the utmost respect (again, for the most part). They are usually children who have great responsibility at home. I have met 17 year old girls who have never made their bed and have never emptied a dishwasher. Home school creates more than an education, it creates a standard of living.
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14 KJV
Another change in this round of parenting, is the social scene for our children. We spend time as a family more than when we were raising the boys. Bud was always too busy with baseball, friends, activities, and we encouraged that. This time around those activities are very limited.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
I'm not saying they have nothing. They go to church weekly and during the school year are involved in Awanas. I am also there...they know that. What they are involved in, I am involved in.
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21
Raising Kyle was different than raising Bud...Kyle is handicapped and so he was more sheltered. He attended church just as his brother did. He did attend a public school most of his life and now works in an environment full of peer pressures (think adults with preteen minds). He LOVES rap music and his favorite "artists" are Kid Rock and let me say Kyle has NEVER owned an Eminem or Kid Rock CD or been allowed to listen to it. THAT is the power of peers pressure! A positive aspect for Kyle has been Special Olympics. Again...we are involved with him. Seeing him light the torch is a top highlight of my life! It is one of my proudest moments as a mother. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 2:12 ESV
This has been a very different week considering our revamped parenting style. Charlotte went to Church Camp...6 days away from us. It was a difficult decision to let her go. She is wounded and struggles in her daily choices, so I was not sure how she would do. The encouragement from my Pastors, who were there the whole week, helped us to decide to let her go. Letting that is the wrong term. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." James 1:5 ESV
She is 12. Still very young, and very impressionable. But it's church camp, right? No. that makes no difference. There will still be pressures for her. Is she strong enough? Does she have the ability to do the right thing? Make the right choices? Is she strong enough in the Lord to not allow those worldly influences in? I have a little twinge in my spirit that I am parenting in that same way I did with Bud. I did get a report. (that is Charlotte at her first day at camp with her cabin mates...she is sitting on the stair, bottom right)
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." Proverbs 2:26
Our youth Pastor talked to his wife on Thursday. He told her that Charlotte is the "hit of the camp." Her camp counselors (the 2 older girls in the pic) LOVE her. Why? My first thought is she has "charmed" them. No. That is not it. They say she is the most polite young girl they have ever had. She treats everyone with respect. She has comforted those who are home sick. She keeps her bed and all her personal items neat and in order. She is not ashamed of her swim suit....which is a pair of long shorts and a tank top with a bra underneath. She tells her camp counselors, with a smile on her face, "I choose to be modest in my dress." They are amazed at her knowledge of the scripture and her understanding of God's Word. She talks about her mom all the time and also about her dad and brothers. She acts bonded, just like the other girls. She eats lunch and dinner sitting next to our Youth Pastor and he says she has been more than appropriate. My concerns for her hoarding and gorging were not necessary, I guess. That is the thing. We do not know what kind of a job we are doing as parents. I am a tad tickled at the report I got. She represented herself as I have seen all those other home schooled kids do. PLEASE know I am not saying all public schooled kids are rude and obnoxious. Bud was and is still a polite young man. What I am saying is, my second chance...that parenting style I working!"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
Zachary went to Cocokey Water Resort for an overnight with my mom and sister and my sister's grandkids. The report from there was just as good. He was well behaved...a bit overstimulated, as they all were, but he listened. He was polite and well mannered. My mom made a comment to me yesterday. She said, "Your children are very polite and well-behaved. You are a good mom, but your children are too sheltered." I reminded her of the things she had said a few minutes before about my children being so well behaved and appropriate and asked her if she had ever thought that may be the reason. Are my children too sheltered? I do not think I sheltered my boys enough. I respect my mother greatly, but I am doing this round differently. If that means my children appear too sheltered, then that is ok. I take no offense. I missed my Zach when he was gone overnight and I miss Charlotte terribly. She will be home this afternoon. Her new porcelain faced, Anne doll will be waiting for her."Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!" Psalm 127:3-5a ESV
Will this be a regular thing for my kids? Absolutely NOT! It will be the exception, not the rule. There is a new standard this time around. Thankfully, I have my husband's blessing in this. He trusts me to do the absolute best for these kids. I pray my best is God's best for them. Hopefully it will not take a third chance!!!
Be Blessed,


blushing rose said...

Lovely post. TTFN ~Marydon

Love Bears All Things said...

I did enjoy your post. I remember so many things I did wrong but when I talk to my son about it, he doesn't remember things the same way. We carried our children to church. They were never involved in too many extra activities. I took my son out of little league because I didn't like the way the parents yelled at the children. I've seen that that has changed some. But rebel, he did. Just like your Bud. There were times when he snuck out and other times when he disappeared. He put me through a lot of heartache. I never had one moment of worry with our daughter. When my son was 18 he joined the army. The best decision of his life. It matured him. I am so proud of the way he has turned out. When he returned home from Iraq and was ordained as a Deacon in his church, I was there. His talk about how he had relied on God to get him through those dark days, touched both his Dad and me. He is 41 years old, and the father of 3. His son, 15, is started to cause them problems. He realizes now what I we went through with him. I am so thankful that both children are in church with their families. I must have done something right after all.
Mama Bear

Alesha said...

I knew, I JUST knew, that this was going to be a great trip for Charlotte!!! Sometimes it is such a blessing to see our children through someone else's eyes.

I so glad Zachary had an adventure too, and that his report was just as good.

Praise the Lord for the progress that has been made.

Andrea Cherie said...

PTL for great reports on your children! They have grown so much (and you too!) since I started reading your blog sometime last year. Keep up the good work!!

~JoAnn~ said...

Bren~ What a wonderfully worded and blessing to read post. You have a great way with words and seem to say exactly how you feel. I was so happy to hear that Charlotte was doing so good. I know just from what I have read on your posts and how you come across that you are a wonderful Mom.

Berean Wife said...


I could not help myself. :)


Such a kind and thoughtful response to your mom - much wisdom there.

Berean Wife

kymber said...

Hi Bren,
I have enjoyed reading your blog for awhile now and thought I should come out of lurkdom. I have gone back to to the beginning to read your past posts - girl you are such a good writer! I too homeschooled my kids and there is nothing like it. I enjoyed every minute of it and I hope that one day they will look back on those days as a special time in their lives with their mom.

My kids are walking in the desert right now - I pray for them to eventually come back to the church. I gave them years of "head" knowledge about God - and I pray that my prodigals will one day take it to "heart" and find that personal relationship that they need so desperately in their lives. It is hard to see them struggle needlessly - BUT I cling to God's words "Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it". It gives me hope and now that my daughter has a child of her own, I am starting to see her open her eyes to the Lord again. Praise God!
Blessings to you as you "train up YOUR children" - you are doing a great job Bren!

Unknown said...

I am encouraged by your wisdom & humble heart.

julieQ said...

We are all so blessed...each child is different and has different things to offer and needs special love. Thank you for this post!

Ace said...

I really appreciate this post. As a young Mom I am fully aware (sometimes painfully :) that I just don't have the experience I wish I had and that I might not know how it all ends..until the end. I get the same comments "Your kids are so bright and polite and intelligent...why don't you let me take them for awhile or why don't you let them watch more television...don't you think they have too much clothes on..? This still takes me by surprize because I have YET to take another Mother to task when I see them doing something, why do I get comments for doings something with GOOD results?

This gave me the encouragment I needed. Thanks so much.

Also, I am so glad Charlotte got to go to camp. I went to camp at her age and it was a GREAT blessings to me.

I am glad Zachary had fun too.

But like you, I am a Mama bird who is happiest when the babies are all safely in my nest...until it is time to teach them to fly.

Many Blessings :)

Marilyn Robertson said...

Bren, you have every right to be a tad tickled at the reports you received concerning your children's behavior away from you. It shows that what you are doing is working! I wouldn't worry about the thought of them being too sheltered either - they are doing great!

Wendy said...

What a great post. I have 4 daughters myself, I've raised them on my own and it has not always been easy. I've always made sure that they know how much I love and cherish them and I've done my best to raise them right which is all any of us can do. Ultimately they don't belong to us and they do fly out of the nest and take their own road.
A very wise man explained to me once that the verse Train Up a Child In the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart in it. Does not mean to train up a child in the way I think he should go but instead to really get to know your child and their bents in life and guide them to follow their strengths. He encouraged me not to exasperate my children (though at times they've exasperated me :) ) I had no choice but to send my children to the public system thankfully I did have a choice between separate and public, separate being a catholic system which at least they were allowed to teach about the Lord. Its so important to spend time with your children and listen to them, really know them...and then the most important part of Parenting in my life has been......TRUST IN THE LORD!!! He's their Dad and wants the best for them too!

Donetta said...

Hello Bren,
The life in your tone is so lovely to hear.
The tone of this post tells me that you see what is happening in the development of these two darlings. I so longed to continue to home school but God said no...that was the hardest thing I have ever had to agree with.
Not home schooling during the academic year however does not mean that home schooling has discontinued. The limited energies that I have are more greatly focused on the education of their character. The character whether home school or not is the greatest neglected focus of kids in our day and age. Going to church and all the right meetings out of show is not any better than not going at all. Doing whatever they do with a heart focus is where the character is lost or gained.
So many pastors kids are so broken because there was nothing of their fathers left for them after the employment was had. That and the kids see us for who we really are and can spot a fraud a mile away. Those pastures kids who succeed in character are those who are raised with the example of it.

It is your example that has given them this great benefit. The intentional training.

With my kids in public it is a challenge to help them to be an example as well. Yet when they fall as we all will, they can look up and see acceptance that leads to repentance.

Religion that rejects the kid instead of the error used as a tool a lesson...well that is not the example that God has given to me anyhow.

So whether you have the calling/ability to home school each one of us have the ability to raise great kids.

Unknown said...

I don´t think I would have had what is needed to home school my children plus it is not welcomed here in Iceland. I would have loved to have my children at home as my son was bullied all his time in school and he will never be healed. He has all kind of problems related to his experience. They were pressured but luckily my children have not taken up any bad behavior. I wish I could turn back the clock and change my son´s experience of school, it makes my heart go to pieces to think about his struggle. I was considered a very boring mommy always complaining and accusing the school of doing nothing to help my son. It was not an option to take him out of school as it is against the law not to go to school. I find it very hard to forgive those in charge in the school and the children who bullied my son all these years and have made his live so difficult.

Anneatheart said...

I already look back and wish I could change how I did things- and my oldest is only 6! I know so much more now than I did then. however I will say this, I was not homeschooled. Never even heard of it until I was in highschool. My mom took us to church, my dad didn't go- ever. I did all the activities- children's church and Sunday school, church camps etc. My parents didn't teach me scripture, but my mom was praying I know. She worked my whole life too. My sister and I were intense followers of Christ. We didn't desire to do anything wrong. We had wisdom beyond our years. No one ever offered for us to do anything 'bad' because we knew which people to avoid.I was exposed to things, like a friends' parents let us watch an adult movie when I was 8, stuff like that. But I knew in my spirit it was wrong. My parents could totally trust us. They did their best and God honored that.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm making the right decisions. Then I look back on my childhood and my husbands- the world is different now, but trusting God to take care of the little ones is the key I think. We are choosing public school at this stage, yet we intend to be very involved, not allow much extra activity, and be vigilant over their attitudes and environment. We reaffirm what we believe each day at home and teach them how to live. They are certainly more sheltered than most kids- purely innocent of evil really. I aim to keep them that way for a loooong time :)
Good post- very thought provoking :)