As homeschooling parents, we want to do what is best for our children. Through the years, some of us have used a very structured approach for teaching our kids. Others have followed an unschooling path, while the vast majority of us probably fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Yet, no matter what methods and materials we have used along the way, we have all tried to give our children the best education possible.

Now we have reached the high school years. Now the stakes seem so much higher. Now we begin to wonder.

Have we given them what they need to succeed in the future? And just what is success, anyway? Have we prepared them for a meaningful life in the real world? Meaningful to whom? Have we exposed them to enough, but not to too much; emphasized the important and ditched the trivial; focused on their strengths but encouraged them in their weaknesses?

As the last few years we have with our teenagers tick by unrelentingly, we often feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with doubt, with regret, with frustration, with confusion. Yes, there are times when we know something has worked. There are many wonderful moments when we feel proud and happy as we watch our teens emerge into independent young adulthood.

But there are also the days when we cannot imagine why we ever thought we could do this thing called homeschool high school. There are the hours that seem so hard and long, when we struggle with personality conflicts, academic roadblocks, messy rooms, and those unpredictable, migraine-inducing teenage hormones. There are the minutes we just want to run away from the pressure—though of course, we never would. Well, not for more than an afternoon.

Despite our qualms, the truth always remains: except for God, no one can love these kids more than we do. No one knows them better than we do. No one wants them to find joy and fulfillment in their lives as much as we do. Our commitment to homeschooling through high school can remain strong if we remind ourselves of these facts regularly—as well as the fact that the Lord has promised to work everything together for good to them that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

As we continue on our high school homeschooling journey, we need to reevaluate our goals. Not only do our children need an academic plan that will pave their way to college and/or a career. Not only should we be teaching them to handle a budget, change a tire, and cook decent meals. Not only must we demonstrate proper table manners, show them how to iron, and bravely suffer as they learn to drive.

No, we must set our standards higher than these necessary but limited goals. We must remember that the two things that matter most in our children’s lives are their relationship with God and their relationship with their family. Those two key elements lay the foundation for how our children will live in the years to come. How will they handle the sometimes-daunting experiences that will invade their lives? How will they interact with the wide variety of people they meet as they travel through their days? How will their faith hold up under fire? How will they maintain the courage, the strength, and the determination necessary to make a real difference in this world?

Again I say, amidst everything else we teach and do with them, it is first our young people’s relationship with God and secondly, their relationship with their family that truly matters the most. Homeschool parents should remember not to “sacrifice the important on the altar of the urgent.” Yes, academics are a significant part of our teens’ days. So are other things at times, such as work, music, volunteering, friends, and hobbies. All of these things can be good and helpful, but they can also become stumbling blocks if we are not careful to keep them in their rightful places.