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.”
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