Beneath the Questions


Have you ever tried to force something? Because you thought it was the right or best way? Even though the circumstances were telling you different? Even though everything pointed in the opposite direction? Even when it was hard? Did you give up? Give in? Surrender? Change your mind? Compromise? Or did you hold fast, rigid and determined to stay course? Your way or the highway? Is your way the ‘highest’ way?

What is your motive? How do you make your decisions? What about when there is no clear right or wrong?

Here is my dilemma. We have chose to homeschool our thirteen year old. Very specifically, at his tearful request to do so. Now six weeks later we are at his tearful request to NOT do so. What should we do?

It would be so easy for me to admit defeat and send him back to public school. You see, I have not ever felt called to home school.

I have felt homeschooling a better option for our son, Max, than public school (when HE was the driving force behind the the decision).

Why? Because he can’t sit still! He was labeled a ‘problem’ by many teachers. He has ADHD (although maybe it’s just ADH – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and the other D – Disorder is wrong, maybe it’s not a disorder at all, just how he rolls). When Max begged to homeschool, I thought maybe we stood a chance. Now when he is begging not to, our chances for success seem dwindling.

It would also be an easy decision to force homeschool, persevere and see what happens. The decision would be easy, but the day to day reality would be a completely different story. Arguments, head butting, not at all what I signed up for! I just don’t know if I have the fortitude for the trial. Not that we didn’t have arguments and head butting with public school – we simply had some other parties involved in the skirmish!

I am also not sure this is really all about homeschool. I think homeschool might be the surface topic, but what is underneath may be more important. So what is underneath? Because I really don’t want this to be about me. Yet I am half the equation in the homeschool dilemma.

And there lies the first ‘what lies beneath’: I believe my husband Jeff, Max’s father, should play a more active role if we are to homeschool.

Here are the other ‘underneaths’

  •  I love learning and school. Max doesn’t.
  • Max is becoming resentful toward me.
  • Max is more like Jeff than myself in personality, learning style, communication and love language.
  • Jeff quit school in the ninth grade (Yes you may read between the lines concerning Jeff’s view toward school…).
  • I have perfectionist tendencies – not a good teacher quality!
  • I love teaching and training – willing and eager students…
  • Jeff and I both have Attention Deficit traits ourselves (we are not the best ‘set and stick to a schedule’ people).
  • Structure is a great concept. We lack a team effort to maintain a daily structure.
  • I am losing all confidence in my ability to lovingly mother Max.
  • I am becoming resentful of my husband’s lack of interest in and support of: homeschooling, parenting and solution based action. I don’t want all these decisions to be mine alone!
  • Jeff feels attacked when I try to discuss my feelings on this situation with him.
  • Homeschooling was not on my radar, but I was willing to take it on if (and only if) Max was the driving force for his own success in the endeavor. And this has changed…

My other considerations:

  • Max has a tendency to relentlessly pursue something until he attains it. Then he quickly loses interest.
  • I am not a quitter.
  • I don’t want to raise a quitter.
  • I honor my commitments.
  • I want our child to honor his commitments.
  • I want what is best for Max!
  • I don’t want Max to see himself as a problem at home, at homeschool, at other school or anywhere else!

Okay, and very honestly, Underneath EVERYthing:

  • This situation has exposed some personal dissatisfactions with my own life.
  • Jeff and I have some conflict resolution work to do.
  • Our marriage needs some strengthening in the communication skills department.
  • Our parenting skills need brushing up and tweaking to adapt to parenting Max.

Where is God in all this?

Everywhere!

 What does He say?

 He says it’s all about love. Seeking Him first.

 For me this means each nanosecond requires a Jesus connection.

 Next, it’s all about loving each other (aren’t Jeff and Max my neighbors?) as our selves. Making sure there are healthy ways I am loving myself, so that Jesus’ love flows out from me to my family (and others).

Matthew 22: 36-40

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

I am prayerfully seeking the answer to homeschool or not. (To be continued…)

15 responses to “Beneath the Questions

  1. Hmmm… Praying on this one. I love you lady. I guess the one thing that stands out is the need for following through. Maybe God wants you all to push through this homeschooling thing, even when it seems tough and opposed… To the reap the rewards… i know easier said than done.

  2. Amy just said the words I would like to have said. Commit it all to God and keep praying. I will keep talking to God with you on this one, Barb.

  3. I love you Barb. Thank you for your honesty and openness. Praying for you my friend.

  4. Be encouraged my sister, and remember that you and your family are precious to the Lord. Draw closer to HIM, and spend more time with the lord in his presence so that he can direct your path with your family. Thank you for sharing.When we seek the Lord together, it multiplies our power… on my knees right now.

    • Ladies – I am so blessed, beyond measure, to have so many praying sisters! Thank you! Each and every one of you for your prayers and encouragement. I thank God for you! Love you!

  5. Although I’m experientially inadequate to comment, I will say that what God speaks to you and Jeff will be the very best for your family.
    I would surely hope that no one-including yourself would label you a ‘quitter’ if you are led to send him back to public school. Changing course is not quitting, its re-routing.
    Even through this trial, I love how God is using it to show you “the other underneaths” and that you are so transparent and ready to work on it.
    What an example of a Godly woman! Love you Ms. Barb!

  6. I can relate to so many of the thoughts about homeschool…during different times and seasons of the kids and my life I’ve had so many ups and downs, wanting to follow through, feeling like I was a failure, wanting to have happy kids and a “nice” mommy that wasn’t turning into the “mean” teacher! I went back and forth on the reasoning of why I was “choosing” to do it, but in the end what God revealed to me about what He had planned for our family was more important than any reason I could come up with. I’m not giving you advice or trying to convince you of which way you should go in any way and you’re discerning enough to hear God’s voice on the matter for your family…but maybe what I learned could speak encouragement to you during this time. God revealed to me that for our family He intended our children to go out and be “lights” in the public school but he wanted them to have a firm foundation in faith and be able to discern what following Him looked like, if not fully but to some extent….He promised me on Feb. 16, 2009 Isaiah 54:13 “All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace.” …I knew that homeschool would not be a lifelong goal for our kids and each one would be released at different times. Many times I pray that I could be released to not have to do it anymore and other times I pray that I could just keep them home in a safe place forever. But God is faithful and He gives grace for each season. You’re not a failure if you feel God has released you from homeschooling just as you are not a failure if God says you need to keep Max home. Just keep in mind to not let your heart be swayed by feelings and emotions from yourself or Max, just listen to what God is speaking to you and if it’s hard to make out what He’s saying at the moment just be patient you’ll hear him soon enough! He’s always faithful, He’s always good. I love you! ❤

  7. Wow, Barb, you are doing a great job of really digging thru the layers and knowiing yourself, (and Max and Jeff)….great stuff. Whenever two or m ore are gathered,…..and you have lots gathered with you to pray about it…and I will add my prayers.
    My thought…..tell Max about the one underneath….”I am thinking Max, that you do what you have done often…that you may be trying to press hard until we say yes and then you won’t care. I want you to know that if you go back to public school, we will give you support, but we will not change our mind again. You will stay there until June”.
    However, I say all that with much hesitancy, because you have 13 years of experience with Max, and more than that in working out things with Jeff, so yoou are by far the biggest expert, except for the One who is the expert by far, on love and loving paths….keep listening. Sending love.
    Karen

    • Karen I appreciate your counsel! I really like the dialogue opener with Max…Praying for HIS wisdom. Mostly thanking HIM for all these amazing girlfriends! You ladies are my sisters and I thank God for you!

  8. As a teacher who serves children with very unique needs, I have to say you have truly been given the the gift of empathy…. lol If Max is giving you this hard of a time, imagine what his teachers have been through while trying to also take care of the rest of the class but with the right resources, support, and programming can be successful.

    I don’t think either option will be a poor or wrong choice. Both will have their challenges. I think the true test is becoming more stubborn than Max. Which choice will allow you to gather your strength enough to do that? Personally, I would need a break to gather the stamina it takes to follow through with a child that needs constant reinforcement and motivation to engage in learning.

    If you do choose public school, I think YOUR heart has to be in it and you will have to support the educational plan/ program that he participates in full force. If he sees a crack between you and school, he will use it to wiggle out of his responsibilities. I have a feeling that Max very good at finding or creating wiggle room.

    I have had tremendous success with building student productivity/ stamina just by sticking to my guns. In my classroom, I expect a job to be done before ANY privileges… and then sending the job home as homework if it’s still ignored (it always works faster when the parent follows through) It is hard to tough it out, though. Just when you think that maybe the job is too hard (even though you’ve carefully selected it) or you think that the child really isn’t going to come around and you are ready to give up (because what’s the point of this head butting everyday), the child digs in and begins to work! I’ve had 3 challenges this year. One improved in a week, one in 3 weeks, and the last just surprised me today after on and off struggle since last year. He not only finished his work today, he produced 2 pages of scrolled numbers in one sitting. His peers usually complete 100 new numbers a day and he usually takes about a month to produce the same…. He almost had me convinced that the task was too much but finally decided for himself that he wanted in on the competition that we had going on and he was tired of avoiding since there was no reinforcement for it. I am just hoping it wasn’t a fluke because he beamed with pride, enjoyed his free time, and got in the game with his peers. That makes a teacher very happy… that and the fact that he is on his way to understanding the pattern of numbers, place value, greater than less than, etc..

    What was my point? Oh, that if Max goes back to school, his teachers have to be stubborn (in a positive way) and that you have to be stubborn about reinforcing the expectation that has has been handed him. If you choose to continue homeschooling, it’s all you. You basically, have to be the tough one day in and day out, all on your own- that causes nothing but burn out. (and Jeff really doesn’t know what to do. He just trusts you to make all the best decisions 😉 (men!-lol) But, then again, if you stick it out with the homeschooling, you may get a breakthrough when you least expect it… but how long can you be tough? It takes a tremendous amount of consistency.

    I do agree that if you do decide to allow him to enroll in school again, that he should have to follow through…. but I also wouldn’t even allow him to have the true input into the situation without earning it. I would make him write all the reasons he wants to return to school, along with the responsibilities that he needs to follow through with. That could even be turned into a contract that includes rewards and consequences. (I’m guessing that he HATES to write and through the writing process, he would have to demonstrate true effort and sincerity in a mature way in order for you to take his request seriously.) Plus, you will be able to gauge what he knows about those responsibilities by seeing what he comes up with on his own. We can all have tearful moments of frustration and breakdown and think that the grass is greener on the other side (“anything but this!” moments) but if he is expected to really think about his choices and the necessary commitment through a labor intensive process, it might be a more meaningful argument than an emotional plea.
    (Having his commitment in black and white could also come in handy when the day comes that he decides that he wants to go back to homeschooling.) I’m sure Jeff could teach him a thing or two about contracts 🙂

    No matter what you decide, you are an amazing mom and you will find a way to make either choice work. It’s just going to be easier for you to follow through if you have taken care of yourself first. You don’t want your choice leaving you drained.

    Good luck and I wish Max all the best! It is truly something to watch a child who is either passive or rebellious about the learning process (due to legitimate challenges) begin to become a more active learner (even with the boring stuff). It’s just a very tricky business.

    • Love you Nikki and the very good, practiced and practical advice! I am currently working on my own follow through. I hate when Jeff or I make an empty threat and don’t follow through. So – I now have no cable TV! Yesterday I gave Max the choice to complete his work by noon (super easy for him with my help) or do without cable television in our home. Dang it! He chose no Cable – had to wait on hold 20 minutes just to disconnect Comcast…Any way – today – it’s 11 am and his work is complete without arguing. Go figure!

  9. What would be the highest possible good? 🙂 ( had to ask it!)

  10. Sounds like you found his carrot!! and a big one at that 😉 Good job staying strong and following through with your word! The cable has gone out in my house a time or two but I’ve only had to have Pat unhook the cables in the basement…. You ARE good.

    We all have to put in the hard work in order to reap the benefit. Kids don’t always realize the importance of education so we have to use what’s most “important” right now.

    Max knows you totally mean business now and there will come a point where all you will have to do is remind him of the consequence and he will not even bother testing you (or at least as often) because he has come to learn that you WILL follow through. He’s working hard now because he wants that cable back.

    You are the one that taught me that teaching our kids to do the right thing is the best gift we can give them. I’ve developed that skill over the years and despite feeling too strict, the outcome usually results in a happier, more responsible child who still loves me and knows that I love him/her 🙂

    Now, you have to keep me updated with Max’s progress. I’m sure there will be ups and downs but I bet you’ll find the best course possible. It’s always easier to have someone to reflect with, to bounce ideas off of, or even vent …. I’m always here and have had tried about a million different strategies with kiddos over the years and still trying new ones. Just holler.

    Stay strong!

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