We’re now about to enter our third year in our homeschool journey and, honestly, I’m not sure if we have anything to show for it. I must admit that up to now, I tend to doubt myself both as a parent and a teacher and there are days when I simply wonder if it would be better if I just put our girls, particularly my teen, back to conventional school. It’s amazing how my husband trusts me so much that he seems to have totally dismissed that idea, though. He’s aware that we tend to lag behind in academics, particularly in Math, but he doesn’t make a big deal out of it, confident that we’ll be able to catch up soon. Really soon.
Deep inside, however, I felt confused and worse, defeated at times. I have all the time and learning resources that would help me teach my daughters as well as enable them to learn on their own. I have a supportive husband and we have friends and relatives, especially my sister, who cheer us on. I have attended various seminars and read books on homeschooling, too. So, what could go wrong? Why can’t I be the kind of parent-teacher that I had envisioned myself to be when we first decided to homeschool our daughters? Why can’t we seem to have that perfect homeschool day every single day?
When reality finally set in that my daughters’ education primarily depended on me, I started to become (more) controlling, I guess. And, having a teenager with raging hormones, that could only mean one thing: disaster. Nevertheless, my expectations did not waver. If anything, I just kept adding something to the pile of things I expect my daughters, especially my teen, to be, do, and have. The result? An estranged relationship between my firstborn and me.
I started to see nothing but the things that my daughter needed to change or improve in her skills, attitude, and so on. Sometimes, I could say that I had helped bring out the best in her, and that truly makes me feel good, especially when it comes to her art. Most days, however, I see the worst in her. Ever heard of a mother and daughter having a catfight? Well, we had one and I’m not proud of it. How did it happen and what kind of parent would allow such a thing to happen, you say? I don’t know. One who’s desperate to control an unruly, disrespectful teenage daughter, mold her according to her own idea of what a good daughter should be, I guess, not to mention someone who still has traces of anger issues. Nevertheless, that incident sort of placed us on a truce up to this time.
In the past two years of being around my daughter(s) for 24 hours nearly every single day, I have learned one thing: homeschooling could bring out the best and the worst in me. On days when it’s the latter, everything would just seem to go wrong throughout the day and I would react easily. Looking back, I would realize that those days happened when I would choose to do other things first thing in the morning instead of saying a prayer and going through my devotions… when I would simply choose to do things on my own without regard for anything or anyone but myself.
A dear friend and confidante once advised me to send my teen back to conventional school. That way, we would each have some space, plus the responsibility of disciplining her would not fall entirely on me, and she’d learn to respect and obey authority, as well as get along with others. If she commits an infraction, then my role would be simply to ensure that the punishment she’s given is appropriate. Moreover, I would no longer have to worry about relearning higher Math and Science just so I could teach her.
While she does have a point, my husband and I feel that in a few years time, our teen will really be on her own, so we need not rush in getting her out of our hair. Besides, that’s no guarantee that things would improve, especially that homeschooling her was actually a sort of damage control already on our part. At least, when she’s homeschooled, we’re able to limit the outside influence she’s getting from other people. It’s the things that she’s able to access on the Internet now that we have to guard, though.
Academically, she’s coping, albeit a little slow in certain subjects. I’d like to think it’s because she prefers to study by herself, and honestly, this is one area where my frustration comes from. I remember those nights when I would painstakingly prepare our lessons and make sure she gets the most out of the schedule I’ve created for her until I’ve finally stopped doing those things altogether. Day after day, she’d wake up late and simply miss our morning classes (and having breakfast with their dad). Day after day, I’d get all riled up because things didn’t go according to plan. Because she refused to cooperate.
Until I started to see things from another angle. For one, I realized that, Hey, she’s actually doing me a favor, giving me more time to spend with her sister and other matters. And then, She’s now old enough to be responsible for her own education. Unfortunately, because I took myself rather seriously, I didn’t realize that that should really be the case for kids her age.
Looking back, my mother started training me to be responsible for my own learning at an even earlier age. In 4th grade, she trusted me to do my homework and rely on myself more than on anyone else to learn. Meaning, I have to be more attentive in class and use library resources to learn instead of asking her for answers to my assignments. So how come I’ve been hovering so much around my 8th grader?
I also realized that I have failed to notice that she’s going through puberty––a tough stage, especially for girls it seems––and I had taken every little thing she did personally against me. When I was her age, I myself also dreaded waking up very early and resented my parents for sending me to an exclusive school for girls situated in Manila. At that time, a major highway was being constructed so if I were to get on time for my first class at 7:30 AM, avoid heavy traffic, and be able to sit comfortably on a bus going to school and review some of my notes, I have to be on the road at 5:45AM the latest.
Of course, with puberty comes mood swings, especially during a menstrual period. Lucky me, I didn’t suffer much from PMS and abdominal pains, but unfortunately for my teen, she has not been spared from those. Moreover, at an age where friendship matters so much, she really doesn’t have a friend her age to turn to or talk to regularly, since she started homeschooling after graduating from elementary.
There are a whole lot of other things that I am learning about myself, my daughter(s), and my relationship with God, simply by homeschooling a teenager. It seems like the first two years of our homeschool journey was simply poured onto getting to know each other (again), finding out what makes each of us tick. Now that I know better, all I need to do is be thoroughly committed to being the best person I could be. I know that by God’s grace I can do it. Like what Paul said to Timothy, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).
So, shall we continue to homeschool our daughters, especially our teen? Yes, indeed. We were certain then that God has called us to do it, and we are certain now that we should see it to the end. He’s always with us, after all. ❤
P. S. Expect to see more posts about our homeschool journey from now on. 😉