I taught my daughter how to paint nails. My husband taught our son how to draw a car. Parents are the first teachers for their children on this Earth. But it seems that in the age of experts and professionals, parents are losing their confidence, their ability to trust God and their own instincts about what is best for their children. Your baby isn’t sleeping? There’s an expert (or twenty) for that. Doctors can tell us if our kids are hitting their developmental milestones and what to do if they’re not. Nutrition specialists tell us what to feed our kids. You don’t know how to teach them something? Just look to the internet. There are experts to help you teach your kids everything from how to cook to how to read. Don’t get me wrong, I love internet experts. We use artists on YouTube almost daily to fill my son’s desire to learn how to draw or color some specific animal.
But what about when it comes to life in general? Experts will tell you to discipline your kids one way and the experts on the other side will say the exact opposite. What about education? Society is pushing for more knowledge at a younger age, which is no surprise. In the age of information, that seems like a totally good idea. Experts have created ways to teach children that are fun and engaging. Shouldn’t we listen to their ideas? For some kids, it might be a good idea, for others, maybe not. But how do we know? Is there an expert for that?
When questions overwhelm us we want to dig into the information all around us and figure out what’s right. And we should. But in that process we need to trust ourselves, and God. We can’t just trust this expert or that professional because they seem to have the best logical argument or the most letters after their name.
In this era of trusting ALL the experts, I am worried that we have forgotten to trust the one who gave us these children, the one whose children they are. God gave the most important job to parents, and he trusts us, the parents, more than the experts.
Can you trust that? God gave your children to you—some of His children—because of who you are, what you can teach them. Turn to God and let Him lead you, and the confidence that you are the best teacher, guide, mentor, parent, for your children will come. I am confident that God has entrusted these children to you and He will help you give them whatever they need (and sometimes help will come from an expert).
To read more about how I learned to trust God and myself, read Making the Decision to Homeschool.
I used to get frozen when preparing to teach something to my kids–thinking I needed to have a well-established lesson plan–specific, with all the questions written out I would ask, with possible answers and scenarios written down and thought out, plus a great attention activity and a one-liner ending to drive it home. Do you do this?
It’s time to stop!
Stop feeling inadequate to teach your children. Stop looking around at what the other parents are doing. And look up. Look up to God. He placed in the position to mentor these children. YOU. No one else has your relationship with them. What does He want you to teach them? Don’t worry about it being perfect. Just share what’s in your heart. It will resonate with them because it is important to you, and even though they might tell you differently, you are important to them. Trust your heart, trust your spirit, trust God.
I finally realized that if I waited only for those times when lesson and other aspects were perfectly aligned, that I would rarely teach my children. I had to let go of perfection, because I realized that by teaching them nothing, the things that I wanted to share so perfectly, weren’t being shared at all. I was telling them that those things weren’t important because I was waiting for perfect moments to share it. No moment is perfect. But it is nearly always a good time to teach.
Now, let’s talk about realistic expectations. I cannot explain to you how much better my days are when I take Linda Eyre’s advice to expect a few disasters every day. Every lesson you teach will not be perfect just because you are sharing something important to you. Our children are still children. I used to be upset if my teaching wasn’t well-received. Now I take it in stride–ready to adjust for the next day. Look at it as a learning curve, the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it, but there will always be bumps in the road.
Take into account your temperament and personality as well as your children’s. Are you the type that can have a meaningful discussion while driving in the car? Do your kids learn best by doing, listening, reading? Do you need a distraction-free area? Do your kids need to be moving?
I truly believe that as we continually share what is on our hearts, the things that are important to us will resonate with our children. The lessons we so frequently share will become part of them.