I once held the same hesitation found in Rat’s innocent statement. My children were very young and I couldn’t even imagine an existence that didn’t include spit-up and diapers. Then I heard someone say something that sounded so cold and hard, but which eventually developed into a new parenting philosophy for me: “Our job as parents is to get them ready to move out of the house.” Everyone else was urging me to cherish these moments….why would someone make it a goal to get rid of them?!? The statement wouldn’t leave me. I kept mulling it over and eventually realized the truth to it. It is my responsibility as a Christian parent to prepare my children to one day leave home as adults, fully capable of standing on their own feet and leaving their own mark on the world. It may seem like a simple thing, but my perspective changed with that “Aha!” moment. I began to see past the meltdowns and the sippy cups.
The lesson rings even more true for me today than it did then. The toddler I had then is now on the verge of being a teenager and others have joined our family. As my oldest leaves his childhood, I see how quickly those years have flown (just as everyone said they would) and realize how quickly our last years with him will also fly. My husband and I joke that if the next 12 years fly as fast as the last 12 years, we could be grandparents next week….it sure feels that way. My years for influencing his character and integrity are fast flying. As the trees begin to thin in his wildwood days, it is my job to slowly let go of his hand, finger by finger, until I am walking alongside him. Soon, he’ll reach the clearing and be walking on his own. I know he will be ready to face the wide world and he knows that home is always there for him and welcome for visits.
Seeing firsthand how quickly childhood flies past has influenced my perspective with my younger children. Someday, all of my children will enter the wide world. I want them to be ready. I want them to look back on family and childhood with cherished memories and lessons that stay with them their whole lives.
Our homeschool philosophy has most definitely been affected by this perspective change. Workbooks were tossed. Notebooks were picked up in their place to journal our adventures in learning. Bible studies stopped being another subject picked up and became a foundation for our days. Our faith influences who we are and everything we do. This cannot be summed up in a 15 minute “lesson”. It must infiltrate our conversation. I am learning to stop assuming they understand why I do what I do. It is vital that I explain how my beliefs influence my decisions on a day-to-day basis. Discipline is incomplete if I do not discuss heart-issues. Our lessons are still challenging, but they are challenging with a purpose and I make sure my children understand that purpose. I want them equipped for whatever calling God places on their lives. It is my responsibility to give them the tools. I cannot make them learn, but I can give them the tools for learning. I can share my enthusiasm for learning and excitement for their future; I can trust God to lead them and pray that they follow.