Aiming for Love, Not Perfection


I had a vision…


By the age of 18 all my children were going to be perfectly brought up and perfectly educated. I wanted them to fly off into the world without a problem. I was going to sit back and sigh with satisfaction and happiness. Pat myself on the back: A job well done.

In order to make my goal come true, I spent a lot of time looking for the perfect way of homeschooling, and stressing out over every little detail. I chopped and changed, both methods and resources, always on the lookout for that one perfect thing. I badgered my children and prodded them along: You’ll thank me one day! And what did I discover?

My vision was just an impossible dream.

None of my children have reached the age of 18 and been declared perfect. I used to wonder if I could have done anything differently. Did I do something wrong? No. It’s just the way life is. It’s just the way people are. Who can learn everything by this young age? We spend a lifetime growing and learning, both in virtue and knowledge. I know I’m still growing. So why did I expect things to be any different with my children?

I guess all parents want to give as much as they can to their children. We’d like to help them avoid as many problems in life as possible, especially the ones we have faced ourselves. We want to equip them with knowledge and skills… anything they might possibly need, in order to be successful. Our dreams aren’t bad. We can give our children a good start in life, perhaps better than the ones we had. But perfection? That’s just not possible.

These days I’m much more realistic about my goals. And relaxed – I now have time to enjoy my children. I concentrate on two smaller goals…

Firstly, I want to bring my children up in such a way that they know without a doubt that they are unconditionally loved, both by me and by God. I am sure that such love nurtures children into being the people they are meant to be. Have you ever noticed the power of love?

I also want my children to love learning. There is no way I can help my children learn everything they will ever need to know in a few short years of homeschooling. I can’t cover all possibilities. I can’t see into the future and know what kind of world they will be living in, and what particular skills they will need. I remember John Holt’s words:


Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned
.

Yes, I want my children to love learning and to be independent learners.

My vision for my children’s future? It’s got everything to do with love, not perfection.  I want my children to love… family, learning, life… most of all God.

I have four young adults none of them perfect but all perfectly loved and accepted. They are great people. They will do great things. All my children will – God has a plan for each of them. They have their whole lives to continue growing and learning, discovering and developing and using their talents. They will make mistakes. They will inevitably struggle. They will suffer. But they will learn and they will love and they will become the people God intended them to be.

I’m imperfect but perfectly loved too. I also continue to grow and to learn.That’s the wonderful thing about unschooling. It never ends.

I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to homeschool perfectly. My children don’t have to turn out perfectly. All I have to do is love and trust.

I sigh with relief.


Image: two pretty good imperfect young adults with one fluffy cat!


 
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Comments

  1. Reply

    Great quote from John Holt and so true. I love the way a God centred life can become ordered, because you are letting Him take charge. i'm still realising and trying to implement this, not worrying and just trusting (and trusting that He knows how imperfect I am too).

    God bless
    Kelly

    1. Reply

      Kelly,

      I've quoted those John Holt words a few times. They really are worth pondering!

      " I love the way a God centred life can become ordered, because you are letting Him take charge." I love that! Yes, we assume we have to cover all bases but God does a much better job if only we let Him.

      I was reading some messages on the Unschooling Catholics forum last night and there was one from Suzie Andres. She reminded us of the book "I Believe in Love". This is one of my favourite books. As Suzie said, this is a perfect book to read about trust. I'd recommend it too!

  2. Reply

    Sue, sometimes I think that our society is so driven by success and achievements that it seems normal even to Christians. Yesterday, I saw a group of small toddlers dressed in team colours playing football and, for some reason, it felt wrong. It seems such a temptation to be proud of worldly success or cultural approval, instead of just loving and nurturing and allowing God's kingdom to blossom in our lives.

    I agree about not stressing over homeschool methods. These days, I find that following a certain method seems unimportant – it works better to pick up on what stimulates an interest or helps understanding and go with it while it's useful.

    Great post, Sue:-)

    1. Reply

      Vicky,

      I find it really sad that children sometimes have to work so hard while they are young to ensure they are successful in later careers. We often hear stories of children who are devastated when they fail because they think success is all that matters. Children aren't allowed to be children. They don't have enough free time just to be themselves. And they maybe they don't think they are valuable in their own right, regardless of any achievements. I don't think homeschoolers are exempt from this either. We have the added pressure of having to prove to others that homeschooling is not a ridiculous idea, that our children will be successful regardless of our non-conventional ideas.

      I once heard a homeschooling mother say she wanted her children to be studying at tertiary level well before the average age. That would show everyone how effective homeschooling is. Years ago, a teenage homeschooled boy told me he hoped to be a millionaire by the time he was 21. I wonder if that goal ever came true! Different aims for different people.

      Your comment has brought a lot of thoughts to my mind. Thank you!

  3. Reply

    A beautiful post.

    I know so many people who spend so much time making sure their kids go to the best schools and invest so much money in their education yet fail to concentrate on some of the most important things like building great character. One of the bonus's of homeschooling is that I can spend time helping develop good morals and values in my girls. I'd be far happier with them turning out to be loving, good and valuable citizens than rocket scientists or millionaires with no care for anyone or anything!

    1. Reply

      Lisa,

      I think we are very blessed to spend so much time with our children. Yes, to my mind, the best school can never replace a loving family. Just as well, because we could never afford to send our kids to good schools!

      Loving, good and valuable citizens… yes, that's what I want my children to be too. I guess they could still be rocket scientists as well if that's where their skills lie. Talents can be nurtured at home and I'm sure our children can still be successful in that way, but at the same time still care about what really matters. I can just imagine your gorgeous girls being top scientists with wonderful caring natures!

  4. Reply

    This may not be directly related, but I felt inspired to share it.

    After reading a good post on “I Want to See God” about our “ruling grace” or what I understood as the way that we pray best. I commented on how, at least at this time in my life, offering up physical pain is the best way that I pray.

    That night, I suffered a “mysterious” pain that radiated across my chest. I had to curl up at the end of the bed at one point. A migraine headache started its journey into my world. I wondered who in the world needed all of this sacrifice!! It even dawned on me that it might just be ME. (nah, can’t be)

    I was recollected to the cross and given the grace to “Enter into the mystery of the cross.” and it was those words that I felt our Lord speak to my heart. I was a willing victim and the state I was in is hard to put into words. It was concentrated and nothing else was really present to my thoughts.

    The next night, I pondered the fact that My Very Blessed Mother must have been right there by my side, since she never left the foot of the cross, right?

    I asked myself why I didn’t notice her there at the time, or why I didn’t feel her comforting hand caress my face or maybe my hair?

    Then I thought of how she literally couldn’t reach her son during his excruciating passion. Oh, how she must have suffered there ~ unable to physically sooth her only son. I thought of how hard it is to watch my older children suffer their crosses and not be able to “fix” it with a bandaid or some other simple means of comfort. I know that prayer and example are the most powerful way that I can assist them at this time in their lives.

    While I hanged on the cross with my dear Friend, Brother, Father, Counselor, Healer, Teacher, Life Itself, His mother was indeed there. She had my back in prayer and tender compassion in her heart for me. She never left me ~ in fact, she was probably the one who lead me there in the first place. I place my confidence in her leading my children there too. Amen.

    1. Reply

      Michelle,

      Thank you so much for stopping and sharing your experience with me. The words 'I Want to See God' caught my eye at once, because Patricia is my dear friend! She is so loving and gentle and I always learn so much when she shares on her blog.

      Secondly, I have been renewing my consecration to Jesus through Mary. I read the final meditation today, and I have to say that our Mother Mary has been turning up everywhere recently! So much to teach me, I'm sure. And now you are sharing your own story about our dear Mother with me. Yes, you were inspired to stop!

      "Then I thought of how she literally couldn’t reach her son during his excruciating passion." I was thinking about this several months ago when I was writing about my son who died. I wasn't allowed to touch him and comfort him while he was alive, and only received his body after death. I so wanted to comfort my baby but couldn't.

      Yes, I see indeed the same situation can happen with any of my children. They will all suffer, and there won't be anything I can do about it except pray and offer up my pain and support them in any way I can. Already it breaks my heart when I see one of my children struggling and I want to put things right but can't. But yes, Mary… she will always be there leading us on and praying for us. I wonder if you read Patricia's last post. It is so very relevant to what we are talking about.

      Thank you so much. I will pray for you! God bless you.

  5. What a beautiful post, Sue. You have that wonderful writer's talent for expressing how I feel better than I can myself! (but I shall keep trying…keep learning)

    I share your values. I too want my children to know that they are unconditionally loved and to love learning.

    Cordie recently did a course to help her know that from inside. There was a parent workshop alongside, and we were asked what were our concerns for our children. I put up my hand first, saying that I want my daughter to know that she is unconditionally loved (and loveable) exactly the way she is, that she doesn't have to prove herself by what she does.

    After me, parent after parent put up their hand to voice a worry about some or other aspect of society (computers, the job market – the usuals) until a giant whiteboard was COVERED in these type of "concerns"!

    I had to look within myself to find compassion for these people – my first reaction was wanting to shout, "Don't you trust your children? Can't you see that it's always been the same? Of course the world our children are creating is different from ours – that's the way it's always been! It's not wrong, it's how it's meant to be!"

    Thankfully the "punchline" was for the parents to realise how all these concerns were getting in the way of their showing the deep love they all had for their children!

    Thank you for sharing the John Holt's quote. It is the idea that has perhaps influenced me the most in our home education, but I no longer had the words verbatim, and now I do!

    1. Reply

      Lucinda,

      Your comment has really started me thinking. Another post (or two) is swirling around in my head! Yes, so often we let concerns come between us and our children. I agree we should trust them. And trust that they will find their place in the world when the time comes.

      Today's world is so different to the one I grew up in, and it's changing all the time. I really feel we have to live in the present and stop harping back to 'better' days. Finding joy instead of worrying and complaining…

      "Thankfully the "punchline" was for the parents to realise how all these concerns were getting in the way of their showing the deep love they all had for their children!" The workshop ended on a good note!

      Thank you so much for reading my post and for your kind words.

  6. Reply

    Hi Sue, it's Jackie from Let's Homeschool High School. I wanted to drop by and personally thank you for taking part in our first ever high school blog hop.

    I LOVE your post. We have been unschooling the last several years and last year was my daughter's first year of high school. I was intimidated to say the least. I felt so much pressure to "collegeize" her. I struggled with what to do on a transcript so much that I didn't even do one last year. This year will be much better. While we will still unschool for life skills that are so very important for her learning how to survive in this wild world, we will use the some of the new Time4Learning (http://www.time4learning.com/homeschool/high_school.html)high school courses as well. I know how to transfer those to a transcript and I am learning how to word her unschooling for a transcript. It is a bit of a learning curve for us both, but I know we will survive…together.

    I look forward to linking up with you again next month.

    Joyfully,
    Jackie
    Let's Homeschool High School Team

    1. Reply

      Jackie,

      Thank you for visiting my blog! I enjoyed writing a post for the blog hop. What a great idea to link up high school posts on a similar theme!

      I have also learnt that unschooling can be translated into language acceptable for educational authorities and institutions. It's a skill that's very useful! I haven't seen Time4Learning's courses but I've heard others say they like them. It's all about what finding something that works for each family and also satisfies any necessary registration. It's good we have so many choices.

      I hope your second year of high school homeschooling has got off to a good start. I look forward to linking again next month!

  7. Reply

    Hey Sue! I am one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms and see you participate in our hop… so thank you for being part of our community 🙂 I also blog at http://www.LiveAndLearnFarm.com and we are starting a new linkup for middle and high school students (and moms) to linkup. Here is some more information about the hop. http://liveandlearnfarm.com/new-middle-school-high-school-linkup-starting-january-6-2014/ Would you be interested in joining and maybe even co-hosting?

    1. Reply

      Trish,

      Thank you so much for stopping by! Your link up sounds very interesting and yes, I would like to be involved. I am not always good at coming up with posts when I need them though. I tend to write about what comes to mind rather than think, "I need a high school post so what shall I write about?" But I will do my best! My girls might like to get involved too. I shall ask them.

      Co-hosting? I guess I could do this if it would help. Thank you for asking! I hope this new link -up is very successful. And thank you for Hip Homeschool Moms. I enjoy being part of your community.

  8. Reply

    Sue,

    I know this is an older post, but I found it today on your sidebar and I just had to comment. You articulate to beautifully the desires of my own heart. What is my true vision for my children? That they will look back fondly on their childhoods and know they were loved. Anything that gets in the way of relationships is not necessary. I have been prioritizing "just" being in relationship with my children. This isn't easy for me, as I am a task-oriented person by nature. As I have just relaxed, and truly committed to enjoying the relationship, I have been amazed: our days go much more smoothly, "misbehaviors" are no longer a huge issue, and my kids have been doing a ton of learning! When I got out of their, and just started walking alongside them, it was like they could see the sun shining overhead. You have been very instrumental with inspiring me to make some of these changes. Thanks very much.

    1. Reply

      Amy,

      I'm so glad you found this post in my sidebar. I've been pondering love a lot lately. It seems to me to be central to everything. We made our way back to unschooling because I was worried about my relationship with my children. Since then everything has fallen into place. It sounds like the same thing is happening in your family!

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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