Another letter to my younger self reflecting on insights and understanding gained in my 23+ years of homeschooling. I trust this letter will also be an encouragement to you in your homeschooling journey. ~ Letter 24 ~ Failure
Dear younger Nadene,
Failure feels dreadful and you will cry many tears over your failure to produce perfection in your homeschooling. You need a huge hug right now, and let me assure you that you did not fail.
May I suggest that your own idealism set you up for failure. Especially in those early days, when it was rare and unusual to homeschool, you felt that you represented all Christian homeschooling ideals, You wanted to prove to your family and friends that you and your children were going to accomplish great things in and through homeschooling. During those unsolicited conversations with strangers, you wanted to display that homeschooling was a superior choice. And when your ability to “do it all” failed, or when your daughters fussed and fretted, and when there were tears and tantrums, you felt as if you were letting homeschooling in general down!
Actually, you did an amazing job pioneering homeschooling in that small rural town! Well done! Through your family’s example, 9 other families found the courage to take their children out of public schools and begin homeschooling. Your passion and vision was such an encouragement to these beginner families! You hosted these families on your farm and mentored moms and encouraged them in their curriculum choices and homeschooling methods. Your children, with all their natural traits and behaviours, were a wonderful demonstration of your family values and Christian living. They were intelligent, dynamic and they each had amazing abilities and originality that inspired other parents to believe that their children would turn out okay.
In the very beginning, you read Charlotte Mason books and followed several homeschool blogs and you felt that you had to measure up to their approaches, principles and methods. This caused you to press and squeeze your poor young children to perform accordingly. This caused dreadful stress and frustration. You felt overwhelmed and exhausted. You and your children became disillusioned and distressed and you came very close to burnout. Instead, you finally learnt to let the schedule simply be your guide and allowed your homeschooling to develop according to each child’s personality and learning style.
During the 18 months travelling around South Africa, following the wonderful Footprints package, you discovered that your children learn so much from literature and from life. But, sadly you still tried to make everything a lesson and your children hated you teaching all the time. They eventually whined and refused to visit another museum and they’tuned out’ when your mommy-the-teacher-voice said, “Oh, look at this …. notice that … can you see? …” It will take you another few years of their resistance and refusal for you to finally learn to step out the way and stop being the teacher. This seeming “failure” was actually a wonderful lesson for you to learn to become your children’s facilitator instead.
Things will not go according to plan, especially when your daughters enter their teens. This failure becomes more and more oppressive as they resist and reject your Charlotte Mason teaching and some important subjects, especially Bible Study. They will refuse to study further or go to college or do online courses. They will withdraw from you and you will take it all personally and cry many sad, defeated tears in private. You will feel that you have no testimony, that you are somehow disqualified.
You will feel judged, especially by your family. Your parents will confront you and tell you how you have failed. Your dad will email you rebukes with pages of teachings on “Finding your life’s purpose” with the hope that you will somehow persuade your teenage daughters to make better choices that will allow them to reach their full potential. Your mom-in-law will repeatedly reprove you and your hubby for your failure to ensure that your daughters go onto to further studies or successful careers. You will shed many tears in this phase of your homeschooling.
These dark days will threaten to overwhelm you and you will withdraw and isolate yourself. You will finally realize that you struggle with depression. You and your hubby will talk late into the nights, worrying and praying about your children’s future. You will feel helpless and lost and anxious about your children and you both parent on your knees, praying, interceding, surrendering and handing them over to the Lord. You will find encouragement in the scripture promises and your faith will be tested and proven through these periods.
If I could encourage you about these teen years — cultivate heart-to-heart relationships with your daughters. Remain gracious and open to their ideas, their fashion choices and decor style, to their music and movies and especially to their friends. Support them and be there for them as they try new businesses, projects or jobs. Don’t take their withdrawal personally. It is not always about you. If you can avoid being defensive, you will be the most wonderful stability and strength to them in their turbulent teen years.
Trust me, dear younger Nadene, it will all work out as it should in the end. Your daughters will go on to do amazing entrepreneurial endeavours. They will navigate their post-homeschool graduate decisions with bravery and maturity and they will live meaningful and creative lives. Your eldest will marry and become a precious, devoted wife and home-body and you will all rejoice in their pregnancy and watch as she prepares for their baby.
You have done well and above all, the Lord is faithful!
With compassionate love and grace from your older self,
I’d love to hear your views and thoughts on this topic! Please, would you share yours in the comments?
In case you missed any of my previous “Letters To Me” in this series:
- 1 Learning Not School
- 2 Ideals and Compromise
- 3 Unique Individuals
- 4 Toddlers
- 5 Let Be
- 6 Husband
- 7 Action
- 8 Friends
- 9 Wait
- 10 Come to Pass
- 11 Teens
- 12 Casual Classical Music
- 13 Dare to be Different
- 14 Send Homeschooler To School?
- 15 On Track
- 16 Don’t kill it!
- 17 Perfectionism
- 18 Memories
- 19 Have Fun!
- 20 Trust God
- 21 Time
- 22 Striving
- 23 Fears