Navigating postgraduate years

Here’s another “Getting Real” post ~  My eldest daughter graduated high school at the end of 2013.  Motherhood and homeschooling shifted gears and I entered into a completely different phase with a postgraduate young adult.  Somehow, navigating these years are far more difficult than I imagined.

If you follow the system, this is how educating your children usually looks ~

Schooling +12 years = graduate = college/ university = a diploma or degree = good job = successful life. 

Right?  In fact, I hear more moms who are considering homeschooling their preschooler or really young primary-aged children ask about homeschool graduation qualification requirements than how to enjoy the first few years of homeschooling.  The system rules their thinking.

I seemed to really have my act together when I was homeschooling my three young daughters.  As a qualified school teacher, no one doubted my ability or our vision for our family, but things changed drastically once my eldest graduated and we did not insist on her going to university to study further.

In fact, we have repeatedly been criticized by family and close friends for not providing her with the opportunities to achieve her God-given purpose.  I have endured days of long ‘conversations’ where granny and oupa and aunties have laid into us.  I received a heavily disappointed email with 7 attachments on “Finding your God-given purpose” from my dad.

But here’s the thing, our eldest daughter didn’t want to study further.  And I have learnt that forcing any education on a child doesn’t stick!  It vanishes like mist before the sun.  Our daughter didn’t want a chosen “safe” career or long-term commitment to a job or internship.  She didn’t want to do short courses. We thought, “Why invest heaps of money on courses or take out study loans or go into debt when someone is not keen?  It doesn’t make any sense.”

So, we allowed our eldest daughter to have a gap year … or two …  She has acquired major life skills ~

She and her best friend began entrepreneurship ventures when they were just 15 years old. They have been creative, hard-working and their skills have been tried and tested over the past several years.  They have stocked and run two shops.  She and her sister created a unique clothing range which they collaborated, created and ran online and at markets.  She has been committed to several short-term jobs, one where she gained valuable experience doing administration for a company. She has served others faithfully.  She has grown enormously spiritually.

During these years she assisted two of her friends with their home births.  She has learnt to cook large family meals on a very tight budget, from scratch, without electricity.  She’s learnt to run a home.  She’s attended a month of life-coaching.  She has been serious in her involvement with people and she is committed to deep and meaningful relationships in the small town where she has made her home.

Most importantly, I realized that she is community-driven.  She hated the idea of moving to a large town and living and working on her own.  I have to think that because we live so far from town, on such a remote farm, that we don’t have the same circumstances that most folks have of gently easing a new school graduate into jobs and towards independent living.

When we consider our eldest daughter, we realize that she is living out her life with her own, well-thought-out choices.  Our role is to help her in her startup ventures, assist her to begin businesses or start new jobs, and to encourage her when she faces disappointments and frustrations.  Our role is to champion her.  It is not what the system reflects, but what her heart longs for and how it leads her.  We seem to be navigating her post-school years without a map.

We are so proud of our daughter, and the amazing young woman that she has become!

The best way to parent a graduate is to be available, relational, supportive and encouraging so that we have a place of influence.    And to pray much …

In contrast, it is so easy to follow a homeschool schedule or curriculum.  You know exactly what is expected, what to use and how to get there.  The day is set out neatly.  You can tick the boxes and feel the accomplishments at the end of the day like a warm glow.  But this graduate phase … these open-ended days, filled with uncertain choices, unpredictable outcomes, and sometimes frightening opportunities scares us and it terrifies our newly graduate children.

Life after school is scary, folks.

So, enjoy your young children, your neat homeschool timetables and plans, your simple choices, your children’s innocent hopes and dreams.  And start praying now for those post-graduate years.

What advice do you have for other parents facing their children’s graduate years?  Please share your views in the comments below.

With much grace, Nadene

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10 thoughts on “Navigating postgraduate years

    • @Audria We face a very future with our children than the one we faced when we left school, and especially because we have homeschooled our children, we have “broken the mold” of the way public schooled children are prepared for their independence. I am encouraged to see my graduate children living out their lives with authenticity and conviction, which is very precious in their characters. Wishing you every blessing and much grace as you journey with your eldest in her graduate years.

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  1. I have zero advice. I haven’t been there or done that. But I want to applaud you for having the courage to not pressure your daughter to follow the system when God has designed her to want/be/do other things. It’s especially hard when other family members are placing pressure on you. But I bet your daughter is encouraged by your relationship with her and your ability to see past the expectations of others.

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  2. Beautiful post! In my experience, parenting young adult children can be even more challenging than parenting little ones. I agree that homeschooling has given my children a different perspective on life and they think carefully about their choices instead of taking a path by default.

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    • @Melanie, I am so glad to hear from you and others who have already journeyed further along in their parenting. You have encouraged us to keep the faith and keep following our hearts. Thank you!

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  3. Nadene, this is beautiful and gives words to the thoughts I’ve wrestled with about my kids’ future. My oldest is only 10, but I heartily agree it does NO good for a child to be pressured into following a formulaic path they aren’t passionate about. I feel like it’s resulted in disillusionment and depression (and even, sadly, addiction) in so many young professionals my husband and I know. Even those who have successful careers quite often feel this unexplained emptiness.
    Quite simply I want my kids to 1. Be lifelong learners, 2. Work hard, and 3. Be connected to a life-giving community where they can also serve. Your daughter is wise beyond her years to have discovered these things so young!

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  4. Nadine, many years ago, right at the beginning of our own homeschool journey I began reading your blog. I’ve dipped in and out over the years. We’ve left South Africa, made a new home in England and homeschooled through it all. Two years ago my eldest graduated our homeschool and is currently busy studying art. Out homeschooling changed drastically too after she graduated and after being so certain of every step of the way of our homeschooling journey I suddenly found my confidence plummeting and questioning myself where my youngest was concerned. I realise now that it is because there is so much emphasis placed on going to uni in this country. The reality is that my eldest has not ever been interested in uni and my youngest really is not an academic although she too was totally convinced that she needed to go to uni because everyone else expected it of her. This post has just been such an encouragement for where we are in our homeschool journey right now. Thank you for the reminder that we are not homeschooling for homeschoolings sake but in order to equip each child for the path that they wish to take in life.

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    • @Shirley Ann Vels, our children are graduating into such a different world than children of just 10 years ago! We no longer can rely on the expectations of the previous model to be right for every child, and so it is all new, and with that comes the uncertainty and doubt. Our role is to nurture and foster each child’s purpose and gifting so that they can leave homeschooling to continue to grow in those things that they are uniquely called to live. Blessings as you navigate these years with your children!

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