When it comes to outside activities, one of the reasons I want my kids to try different things is so they can discover who they are. How can someone know if they have a passion for music if they never touch an instrument? But this philosophy isn’t really working for my son. The more activities or events I try to introduce to him, the more he just looks at me as if I just don’t understand him. When I think about the things he is currently involved in, they have all been his ideas, not mine. I’ve never met a child who was so sure of what he likes and dislikes, who he is and isn’t, and about where he will end up in life. He sees new activities as tedious and a waste of time. While I sit back and try to figure him out, he plods on self-aware and confident. I’ve had to learn the hard way to follow his lead and trust that he will find his own way. I believe life never stops giving you learning opportunities and in this case, I need to learn to let go and realize that my ways aren’t the only ways.
So what can a homeschooling mother do for a child who already knows what he wants? Support him. When he doesn’t want to join a specific class or group, I don’t insist. When he wants to set up his own ant colony, or raise a bearded dragon, I let him. As long as he is happy, healthy, and learning to be independent, I need to just let him be. It’s hard to trust a twelve-year-old boy to know what he wants from life, but he’s doing a great job so far. Even though I’m much more comfortable leading a child into the world than following a child who walks confidently into his own life, sometimes doing nothing is the hardest and best thing to do.
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I watched my brave six-year-old scale higher and higher. Every few steps she’d look back and say “I can’t!” but we’d have none of that. We cajoled, we encouraged, we applauded and we pretended the word “can’t” hurt our ears. Higher and higher she climbed and soon she was at the top. She was so proud. Twice more she scaled to the top before the class was over. Now that the path had been traveled, it was no longer scary. Today I watched her confidence grow and that makes a parent proud!
Then I thought, when was the last time I said “I can’t” to myself? How many paths have I avoided that could be familiar by now? Who is going to cheer me on when the path looks scary? Who says that children are the only ones who need to build confidence? Why don’t we adults have to leave our comfort zones? Why is learning reserved for the young?
I don’t like it when I think these thoughts. I like being comfortable. Yet, I know I am a hypocrite if I don’t lead by example. I’ve never wanted to be the parent that says “Do as I say.” instead of “Do as I do.” If I want my children to be strong, healthy, confident adults, shouldn’t I want the same for myself?
So today I started yoga again. I had forgotten how much I love yoga. I went online and ordered books from the library in subjects I don’t normally read. I’m going to work on art projects again without care for how they end up. It won’t be easy and I know many things will be abandoned along the way, but I’m determined to start looking at myself with the same gentleness I do my children. If I don’t, I may just start treating them the way I’ve treated myself. Being overly critical and harsh has made me overly cautious and fearful. I would rather we all learn to climb than be stuck comfortably on the ground.
So, how do you step out of your comfort zone? When was the last time you did something new?
When it was time to pack away the Christmas tree and get serious about the books, I sat down and had a talk with my husband about how hard last fall was for me. I asked him for advice on how to revamp our routine and make it more livable. I call him “The Flaw Finder” so I make sure I only ask him these things when I really want to hear the truth. Empty words of encouragement? No. Raw reality and precise problem solving? He’s my guy. Continue reading