An Education in Relationship
- Friday, July 06, 2012
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.
After spending most of six years as an overtime student and frantic job hunter, my relationship with my two children had suffered damage, as had my relationship with Christ. The truth is that I was choking on guilt and just plain missed my kids something awful. Although I recognized these deficiencies at the time, as well as their hurtful results, I seemed to have no recourse to fight them. I was a single mother nearing not only college graduation but, as it would happen, a national economic crisis as well. I prayed. God answered me with an even greater hunger for closeness with my children, for relationship.
Among the uncertain thoughts about my studies and ensuing career were increasing concerns about my son’s not too distant ninth-grade year, what to do about the afternoons when he would be released from his high school under the school district’s open campus plan, devised to defend 13-year-olds as “responsible adults” who were free to choose their own harmless, unsupervised activities with friends. Soon, I read that the district had postponed a vote on whether or not to distribute means of birth control to the middle-schoolers. God was teaching me about the power of relationship. As a result of the public school’s relationship with a progressively more immoral world, public school could be a dangerous place.
I knew things must change—to what I did not know. My children and I prepared our hearts and minds, believing for something different, something better, and God trained me to see His desires.
Christian schools were all around us, and I renewed the prayers that I’d said forever for a Christian education for my children. I secretly hoped that their education would stand in for the time that I couldn’t give them. Then, God showed me that when He said to train up a child in the way he should go, He wasn’t instructing me to find the best math teacher in the world but rather to maintain a strong relationship with my child.
After all, what is relationship but closeness over time? Even the parable of the sower is a lesson about relationship. A seed must be close to—that is, have close relationships with—adequate water, temperature, shelter, and nutrients. Over time, those good relationships contribute to the desired end result: healthy growth. A relationship that is strong—positively or negatively—guards against establishment of a weaker relationship with an opposite thing. I was sowing strong seeds of time and energy into self-improvement and dreams of security but sowed little time into my children. Even though I drove them to and from school, fed them, tucked them in, and prayed with and over them, I wasn’t really there with them or for them. They were growing up without me.
This new relationship revelation vindicated my prayers for Christian school, and I began praying more specifically for Christian school tuition. However, it also showed me that I was putting poison into my children’s lives because seeds close to poisoned water will share the poison. Relationships connect to other relationships. Actions and choices of many public school students illustrated this principle every day, and so did mine. Not only had I become distanced from my kids, but sin had crept in, right in front of their eyes. I consoled myself by saying, “At least they see my immediate repentance after my road rage.”
As I heard God alerting me to the failings of public school (and my own behavior), I found myself noticing homeschoolers more and more . . . and saw my children grow another year older. I observed that homeschooling encouraged strong closeness to family and to the Godly values that were beginning to wane in our home and that the positives of homeschooling were things God wants for everyone. Homeschooled kids related with acceptance, love, Godly individuality and giftings, etc., and I saw how these things guarded against opposite traits and behaviors, such as ridicule, disrespect, isolationism, immoral peer pressure, and ungodly teaching. Public school children can certainly grow relationships with these good traits as well, but I observed that most homeschooled children spent the majority of their time developing them. Unfortunately, I became envious not only of parents who were able to send their children to Christian school but also of those who could encourage Godly virtues by homeschooling.
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