In my natural state –when I’m not letting maturity, hard-learned grace, and the Holy Spirit guide me– I’m very hard to please.
Before the illness, I was a perfectionist. I had in my head the person I wanted to be and the people I wanted my family to be, and I was stubborn enough and assertive enough to try to make all of us fit into those molds I had picked.
Then came my children’s diagnoses of learning disabilities and developmental disorders.
The more I pushed the angrier I got, the harsher I got.
Pushing harder always works, right?
As I learned (the hard way, I might add), pushing harder doesn’t always help. Often it does more harm than good.
In the process of learning that I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to (I couldn’t even do all the things I needed to do), I started to read about God’s unconditional love for me.
I felt like a complete failure.
In the middle of some really trying times, God’s unconditional love was like a salve to the wounds of my perceived failure.
It was then that I noticed the damage that was being done to my children in the wake of my would-be perfection.
It was devastating them.
It’s very difficult to live with a parent who expects perfection from you.
I was that parent, I’m ashamed to say.
The kind of love that a child needs –especially in the homeschool environment– says “No matter what you do or say I’m always here and I’ll always love you.”
It says “I choose to love you without an conditions.”
Do you love without conditions?
I know I didn’t.
I only behaved lovingly toward my children when I thought they behaved worthy of that love.
But that’s conditional love.
Conditional love isn’t even really love; it’s selfishness masquerading as love.
It says “I will only love you when you make me happy.”
When you’re homeschooling and your child is struggling, how you respond communicates volumes about you and how you love.
Are you disappointed that they’re making you look bad?
Are you upset that they might not make it into the college you have in mind for them?
Are you angry because you’ve put so much time and effort into them and they still don’t understand?
Do you act like it’s you against the child trying to force them to learn faster and better?
Do you not accept work unless it’s done perfectly even if it shows progress?
Do you display disappointment when your goals and ideals are not met?
These do not reflect unconditional love.
Your child needs to know that you approve of him and love him regardless of his behavior, regardless of his ability to do what you want when you want.
If you hold your love and favor for ransom based on your child’s performance, you’re psychologically damaging your child.
It’s not loving.
Real love comes alongside someone and says, “I’m in this with you.” “I’m here to help you.” “No matter what I’m your greatest cheerleader and coach.”
I’m not saying that the work isn’t important, but rather that how you approach the child and approach the work matters.
When a child knows they’re loved without conditions, they want rise to the occasion.
No child is bettered by their parent’s harsh criticism; they’re bettered by love and acceptance (coupled with training and loving correction).
Children thrive in an emotionally healthy and secure environment.
That’s the environment we should be striving to create.
This is one of the problems with the public school system: it’s not an emotionally safe and healthy environment. Especially for struggling child.
Remember that homeschooling isn’t about the acquisition of knowledge. It’s about preparing this child for adulthood.
Let’s make sure we do the least psychological damage as we can as they are growing.
Is unconditional love the missing key in your homeschooling?
It could completely revolutionize your home and homeschooling –as it has mine.