It started with my kids having an obligation that they didn’t want to fulfill. Like most obligations, it wasn’t anything they could back out of; it was something they had to endure and hopefully grow through. As a parent, I knew that it was what was best for them, and I also saw the fruit it would later bear. My children weren’t all-together opposed, but there was complaining which disappointed me, so as I shared our troubles with another homeschooling mom, she rephrased that command from “You have to” to “You get to.”
It turned their dispositions around.
It helped them realize that that obligation was an opportunity to do something which became a privilege to do, which shone the sun on so many other things.
Do you have to help your sister? No, you get to.
Do I have to do math? No, you get to.
Do I have to go walk Mrs. Smith’s dogs–it’s so hot. No, dearest, you get to.
Do I have to deal with Smarty Pants at co-op? No, you get to.
Don’t think for a moment that it only changed the children’s lives. Not at all; it helped me too.
Do I have to teach them the subject they hate? No, I get to.
Do I have to finish school and then make dinner? No, I get to.
Do I have to read to them even when they’re nothing but antsy-pants? No, I get to.
Do I have to go do all of that laundry after a full day of school? No, dearest, you get to. And teach them to do laundry also. They’ll be gone soon enough. The days are long, but the years are short.
This is no small task, this rewording of my default response. It’s taken me over a year to make it into a habit–my new default.
But retraining your brain to think of obligations as opportunities and privileges makes it so much easier to dwell in a place of gratitude for those obligations and to see such privilege bestowed upon us as truly a blessing.
Little did that other mom know what that small rephrasing would open up for us, turning that small fruit I had initially expected into a lifetime of harvest.
Briana Elizabeth has been at this homeschool gig since her 23 year old son was in 7th grade, and his psychiatrist told her that he had to be homeschooled. Her son never went back to public school that year, and the following year, she pulled her 4th grade daughter out of public school. Her five other children have all been homeschooled entirely. It was baptism by fire, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Through the years, she has in the end, not only educated her children, but herself, and homeschooling has brought about a whole paradigm change of living for her family. The education that had seemed only possible for the elite was possible through classically homeschooling.