“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think that whatever else you do matters very much.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy
Almost all parents are obsessed with not bungling, but exactly what that means and how it looks is different for each one of us. With that very first positive pregnancy test, I began making plans. I wanted her to be beautiful and kind and brilliant, and loving and helpful and confident and happy and industrious…
The next order of business was how to achieve all of that. Making plans was so much easier before I really understood that babies come into this world with their own personalities, and yes, even their own strengths and weaknesses.
My next hurdle was one that we all share. There are only 24 hours in a day and a mere 18 years in a childhood. How was I ever going to cram it all in? I soon discovered that every activity I focused on left even less time for the next one.
Opportunity costs demanded that I had to edit my plans and set some priorities. Even within the same family, our priorities for each child will be different, and of course, each family will value some traits more highly than others.
But there is one thing I believe should come first.
It should come first in every family. It should come first for every kid – that is the priority of keeping healthy and strong family relationships.
In the long run, I believe the value of this outweighs all others. Would I want an impeccably educated prodigy who was filled with doubt and insecurity? What good would it do to raise the perfect child if all she wanted was to get as far away from me as possible?
What does this have to do with Classical homeschooling, you ask. Homeschooling moms can be perfectionists. Sometimes perfectionist parents fall into the trap of expecting perfect children. I think this is a trap that we fall into out of love. We want nothing more that to give them the very best of everything.
Sadly, that just isn’t possible for any of us . . . ever. There isn’t enough time or money or mom to go around. Some dreams have to fall by the wayside so other dreams can become a reality – but please, don’t let the dream that dies be the dream of loving and respectful relationships among all immediate family members.
Think of this as pre-homeschooling.
Mothers and children are in a very close and constant environment when we homeschool. Taking stock of the relationship may need to be a daily habit. Tiny adjustments are much easier than trying to get back on track when frustrations and resentments have led us far astray.
So what does this mean in practical terms?
Every family has bad days. Sadly, we sometimes even have a bad season where life throws us too many curve balls too close together. Our patience has run out, our resources are depleted, and everyone is at wit’s end. During these seasons it is even more important to show each other grace and rely on the time we have already invested in having a close relationship.
But what about when the conflict turns personal? What do we do when the stresses of life, of homeschooling, of a specific child’s attitudes or special needs and your own reaction are in danger of actually damaging your relationship?
One thing is certain: you are going to have to change something, and the first thing that you try is unlikely to be the solution. Your child may need more extracurricular activities. Your child may need to have some of his classes out-sourced. You may need to change your schedule or your curriculum. In some cases, you may even need to look into enrolling in the local public school.
Whatever you do, you will never regret putting relationships first.
For further reading on this concept, see Paul Tough’s How Children Succeed.
Genevieve–is a former public and private school teacher who has five children and has been homeschooling for the past thirteen years. In her free time she provides slave labor to Dancing Dog Dairy, making goat milk soap and handspun yarn, which can be seen on Our Facebook Page and at Dancing Dog Dairy .