By Julie Polanco, guest blogger
When we chose to homeschool our children, I knew our journey would be different. But I didn’t know how different. I understood school as children sitting at desks doing what the teacher told them to. I figured that homeschooling would be like that, only in my home. Those assumptions proved to be wrong as well. In fact, homeschooling my four children—now age 19, 17, 13 and 11—taught me a lot about God, learning and parenting. Here’s what I learned—and it applies not only to homeschooling but to raising kids in general.
You are not responsible for how they turn out. I know that sounds counter-intuitive. If the kids turn out bad, of course, it is the parents’ fault! God told us to homeschool. We did. God instructed us in the Bible to teach our children the Gospel, right from wrong, respect, purity and so much more. We did that. I spent more time with my children than 97% of parents as a result of homeschooling.
However, one child broke our hearts more than once. A strong-willed son unexpectedly grew to become a champion of his faith, but struggled with an Internet addiction. Being with my kids 24/7 didn’t guarantee that they would always make wise choices. We are held accountable before God for our own choices, not those of our children. They are sinners and we have no power to save them. This lesson set me free from a burden of guilt, thinking that I didn’t do enough. I obeyed God—and I left the results of my efforts at the foot of the cross.
Sometimes we are the problem. Children are gifts, blessings from the Lord. They are not sent to us because we deserve them. God’s blessings don’t work that way. Blessings are for our good—we are not the blessing’s good. Being with my four blessings 24/7 forced me to change. Of course, my husband and I influenced them, but I know that God sent them to me to sanctify me and mold me more to His likeness. They were not sent to me because God thought that I’d be good for them. He wanted to draw me to himself, to teach me.
And, just like with other life lessons, he used people to do it. Albeit they’re small people, but people, nonetheless. When strangers asked me why my kids were out in the middle of the day, I told them, of course, that they were homeschooled. But then they commented, “Oh, you must be so patient! I could never do that!” I wasn’t patient, either. God made me patient. And gracious. And peaceful. And continues to work in me as I continue to homeschool. I thought I knew so much about how to be a great parent. My methods fed my need for control. He wanted humility and surrender to Himself. This lesson forced me to trust Him and learn how to parent like Jesus.