That Guilty Feeling: Fighting the Spirit of Failure
- Friday, June 04, 2010
I have birthed eight children and have homeschooled them for the past nineteen years (I like to say I've been teaching them since birth), but I still feel like I am an unqualified, unorganized, undisciplined, under-educated and a full-time failure of a homeschool mom. I am often overloaded with feelings of guilt. Feelings of guilt can eat away at us body, soul, and spirit.
What do I do with this load of guilt I seem to always be carrying? Do I suffer in silence and depression and hope the guilt goes away some day? Do I let everyone know how badly I feel and possibly gain some compassionate friends to commiserate with me? Do I go into overdrive and try to fix all the things that are causing these guilty feelings? Do I put on a martyr complex attitude and go around like Eeyore without his tail? Or, maybe I put on a fake smile and pretend everything is just fine. I have tried them all and have learned that none of those things provides the answer. Let's get to the root of the struggle.
Why Do We Struggle With Guilt?
I have found that most of those guilty feelings come from one thing: expectations. Whether it is something I am expecting of myself or my children or something I feel others are expecting of me, those expectations can carry with them loads of guilt if we feel we don't measure up.
Here are five common areas of struggle:
1. How everyone else teaches their children has got to be better than the way I do it. After all, I am not teaching using the classical method (or whichever method you feel guilty about not using), and therefore I must be failing my children. I am not using unit studies; therefore, I am probably not accommodating my children's learning styles. I am not doing narration with my children; therefore, they must be suffering. I am requiring too much from my children, or I feel like I am not doing enough with them. I feel guilty about the curriculum I have used (or not used), because there might be something even better out there that I am missing.
No matter what we are doing, the grass will almost always look greener in somebody else's schoolyard. But just as every family operates differently, and just as every child learns differently, and just as we have been created in uniqueness, in the same way we will have a completely unique way of educating our children. No two homeschools will—or should—look alike. We can erase that guilt off the blackboard of our minds.
Let's look at the facts of the matter here: no matter what philosophy of education you use or don't use, no matter how much formal "school" you do or don't do, your children will most likely perform above the level they would have performed in the public education system. If you do a little research on homeschool statistics, you will find that homeschoolers excel across the board, no matter how you teach them. If you need to convince family or friends, pastors, or even yourself, go to the following link: www.nheri.org/Research-Facts-on-Homeschooling.html.
2. I am an inadequate teacher. Want to know a secret? I don't have enough patience, organization, motivation, or creativity, nor do many of us. But I have found that as I obey God's command to teach His children, and as I listen for God's voice on how to do that, then I begin to learn all these things as I go along. When I bear the yoke alongside the Lord and follow His lead, I grow in patience. As I work in harmony with my meek and patient God, I grow in motivation as I begin to realize God's purposes for my children, and I grow in organization and creativity as I am refreshed by helpful resources, conventions, and the like-minded friends He leads me to. Although I may not feel like I have what it takes to do what I believe is a sufficient job at teaching, the grace of God is sufficient in my weakness, and His strength is even made perfect there!
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