Now, before I begin, to clarify, I am by no means saying that Homeschooling is the only way to end up with a balanced, mature young lady. I could sit here and rattle off a HUGE list of women I know who came out of school in EXACTLY the position I would like to see Jaz finish her schooling in. Both from state schools and from Christian schools….. actually when I think of it… probably more were from state schools. :0)
So…. my blog entry scheduled for today is to share with you all the journey I am on alongside my 13yr old daughter. Yes, she was certainly heading towards being a full-blown tween drama queen when she was still at school last year & the year prior. Going back to year 6 though, my daughter was actually living a bit of a double life. At school, she was a somewhat nasty, foul mouthed little so & so. (much to my great sadness finding out later.). At home, she was predominantly a sweet, lovely natured girl. When she hit the end of yr 6 with few friends due to her school behaviour, she finally broke down to me one day and confessed her sin issues. I had certainly been in contact communication with Miss 13 through these times… with nightly devotions, family prayer time etc etc. Issues were discussed.. our heart condition towards others etc etc. She KNEW she was doing the wrong thing, but focussed too much on what others thought of her, instead of knowing who she was IN CHRIST !!
After the ‘opening up’ discussion in the end of grade 6, I spent a lot of time through those school holidays between year 6 & 7 speaking into her life in regards to where her identity lies. She had a good grasp on this (for a 12yr old) by the time January school start time rolled around. We had come up with several plans to put in place going into year 7 in order to rectify the situation she had created for herself the previous year. I seriously could not have been prouder of her for going ahead and taking my advice when heading into Year 7. She went off to the first day of grade 7 with a blank slate… no friendship expectations, no plans to return to ‘old groups’ etc. My main suggestions to her were – 1. Don’t seek out just ONE best friend… seek out a group of girlfriends. 2. Treat these girls as you would like them to treat you. & 3. Repair damage from the previous year… even if it took the entire year.
Within a few weeks of year 7, she had found herself in a rather large group of girls ( 8-10 girls). This was exactly what I wanted for her… no big pressures to be close BEST friends with anyone in particular. She also had some repairing to do with those she had hurt the previous year. The entire year 7 school year consisted of Jaz seeking opportunities to individually apologise to those who needed apologising to. I am so pleased to say she didn’t have a single negative response. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone decided to remain close friends with her, but that’s ok. Lots of the girls had grown in different areas anyway and therefore sought different personalities in friendships etc.
Even though Jaz managed to apologise to all throughout year 7, she still struggled to get past the issue of caring too much what people thought of her. If I had a dollar for the amount of times she said to me “Mum, you don’t understand, things are different at school to when you were there.” Sorry chicken, but no…. it’s still the same… even out of school. I was actually going through some friendship issues myself in this year, so I could identify with Jaz in several areas. It’s HARD when friends grow apart, in ways you never thought would happen. It’s even harder when you decide to follow God’s will when it is so opposite to what you would really prefer to do. Friendships are like any relationship.. they require work, and Godly direction, at all times.
Another thing that greatly helped Jaz last year was a very small youth group/Bible study that she attended every 2nd Friday night. She was able to open up in these settings and discuss things we were delving into in our devotions etc. We’d been covering things like modesty in her clothing choices (coz you know, the height of fashion for a grade 7er was denim undies.. cringe.), boyfriend/girlfriend relationships cropping up at school, conversation topics, entertainment choices (movies & songs etc.) & lots more. Jaz was making some great choices, but found it hard coming up against her group of friends at school who didn’t agree.
So, coming to the end of Year 7 at the end of last year, Jaz had a few good friends, but none who were walking the same path as her. None put The Lord in their decision making process, and Jaz was trying so hard to do that.
When, in September, we seriously began considering Homeschooling our children for the following year, we began to spend more time with a family we’ve known for years. We actually met them at school before they decided to begin their homeschooling journey. Jaz & their daughter had been friends and continued (sometimes sporadically) to keep in contact even after they left the school. So, not surprisingly, they were our first port of call when heading into our decision making.
Jaz found that here was the like-minded God focused friend she had been so desperately looking for. Someone who’s parents shared the same parenting style and intentions, someone she could discuss her relationship with God with…. but someone who was FUN and great to be around as well !!!
Jaz has gone onto to make 4 other fantastic friends this year, who I believe she will have as friends for a very long time to come. Gone are the days of having to explain why she won’t wear that, or watch that movie, or why she doesn’t know the lyrics to that particular song.
An interesting and encouraging note is that two friends she has had since birth basically are still here, and while they still are in that environment back at school, they enjoy spending time with Jaz & her new friends. Others may not choose to make the same choices as Jaz is trying to, but they are witnessing these girls choice, which can only be fantastic. It’s also a bit of a bonus that they are finding out that, hey… not all homeschool kids are freaks. Bahahahahaha.
All of this comes back and ties in with how Jaz goes in her schoolwork also. While she was at school, she was often effected emotionally by things that went on in friendship groups… differences in options etc. This effected her schoolwork. :0( Of course, as a normal 12-13 yr old, she had struggles with wanting to be like everyone else.. wear what they wore, watch what they watch, know the lyrics to those songs that everyone was singing. While knowing they were inappropriate choices, she also wanted to ‘blend in’ and be apart of the group. Her wonderful attempts at making good Godly decisions and her emotions as a tween were butting heads. For this reason, taking Jaz out of that environment has resulted in amazing spiritual growth & maturity.
Jaz also has benefited beyond measure from working independently. I really believe it is her niche !! She now thrives in ALL subject, as do all of my children. They still have a little catching up to do in a couple of subjects, but across the board, they are doing fantastically. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again… Deciding to Homeschool our children this year has been the best decision we ever made. I specify ‘this year’ because I have found that when people have asked me how things are going with HS, I’m always tempted to say “I wish I’d done it years ago.”, but in all honestly, God had not equipped me prior to late last year. It just reinforces that God’s timing is SPOT ON… EVERY time !!
Some people would say that I am hiding my children away from the ‘real’ world, but I’m sorry. (actually I’m not.. LOL) We, as a family, are choosing to live to a higher standard. We are refusing to buy into this “It’s just the way it is these days.”
One of the issues I’m most pleased that Jaz has also found her ‘niche’ is relationships with boys. From very early on, I encouraged Jaz to guard her heart and think very carefully in relation to boys. In the school environment, there was so much pairing up.. and Jaz really struggled with it. We have always encouraged our kids to befriend both girls & boys. God already has our mate chosen, so really, why stress about it. Enjoy the friendship of those around us and God will lead us to the one who He has chosen for us. That was hard at school, as seeking a friendship with a boy automatically meant you had a ‘crush’ on him.. and wanted to be his girlfriend. This is an area Jaz is really enjoying being in the HS community. So many of the parent have these same beliefs so they all get on so well, with none of these pressures. It’s really great to see. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think it automatically means we’ll have no issues in this area in the future… but I’m certainly hoping it’s minimised.
We are called to be bright shining lights in this increasingly dark world, and that is what I’m trying to instil in my children. Yes, I’m up against a lot … but all I can do is press into The Lord in every part of life.. and make HOLY SPIRIT lead decisions. Believe me, I KNOW I’ve chosen a tough road at times, but the destination is worth every stressful moment, every tear, every struggle, every setback.
For every stressful time, there is joy beyond measure.
For every tear there is buckets of laugher (coz man, God sure has a sense of humour at times.)
Every struggle is made bearable with numerous WINS
Every setback comes cushioned on either side with GROWTH !!!!!! Praise GOD for that !!
Here’s to the years ahead… walking through this amazing journey with my beautiful daughter who loves The Lord, and while not always pulling it off, attempts to make great decisions !! (Let’s face it, do any of us ever pull it off without incident? I know I don’t.)
I am so proud of her !!!
Now, to continue to tackle these boys… LOL. LORD, give me strength. Lucky for me.. HE DOES !!!
Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Psalm 144:12 (ESV)
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace;
Blessings peeps !!!