Kevin Swanson says:
Children perpetually test the structure and foundation of the home. Some are clandestine in their test methods. Some do it with wild thrusts with sharp sticks. Some do it every 15 seconds, some every hour or two. But they all test the boundaries for signs of squishiness in one way or another. A house without consistency is squishy.
He goes on to contrast consistency and squishiness and points an unwavering finger at common “squishy” practices. As I did, you might identify with more than one of these tendencies. Threats, bargains, inconsistent punishments, and laziness should have no place in our homes.
We all slip into bad habits now and then, and we then need to repent and start over. That, too, becomes a lesson for our children to learn from. Homeschooling puts an extra dynamic in the parent-child relationship. We spend all day with our kids. That provides times to succeed and fail. We will do plenty of both.
Consistency definitely must play a key role in quality, loving, godly parenting.
Near the end of the article Swanson makes this accurate assessment, “There is no perfect parent. But there are repenting parents. This is the life of the Christian parent, and it is the best example we can hope to give to our children.” I will fail, and don’t want to hide my failures from my children necessarily. I will apologize to them for not parenting as I should have and as we together revel in God’s grace and mercy toward us, we start yet another new chapter in parenting. We all need a fresh start now and then.
Although not directly concerning homeschooling, and not even speaking of true motherhood really, I found this quote from Amy Carmichael’s biography (A Chance to Die by Elizabeth Elliot), quite thought provoking. These words, printed on a card, encouraged her from the inside cover of her Bible:
These children are dear to Me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind. If thy heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of My own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy Reward.” The words are followed by a picture of the Shepherd, reaching for a lamb while a vulture hovers overhead.
How fitting for the homeschool mother! Our children most likely did not experience the dreadful situations these temple children had faced, but we can still grow weary and feel stretched. When the days go well, praise Him! When we struggle, cry out to Him. Even when we sink, He remains our reward. Those vultures circle, but God protects.
We have a critical role as parents, as more than parents.
Let children alone-…the education of habit is successful in so far as it enables the mother to let her children alone, not teasing them with perpetual commands and directions – a running fire of Do and Don’t ; but letting them go their own way and grow, having first secured that they will go the right way and grow to fruitful purpose.
With a strong resemblance to Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it,” this quote reminds me to stay the course, especially with the little ones.
Lax discipline comes much easier in the short term. Intentional training takes consistent effort, but reaps immeasurable dividends in the end. As I work with my four and five year olds, I cannot let up. Not with harshness, but working with kindness and compassion, I need to capitalize on the teaching moments that erupt throughout their days.
Humility, obedience, gentleness, self-control, attentiveness, diligence. The lessons they have to learn far outweigh the Algebra that will come soon enough. They will eventually learn about great personages of history, but for now, I cannot neglect their life lessons. Now I must model and instill in them the faith that will give them the backdrop for all of that.