My heart today is overflowing with gratitude for God’s gift to me of the most special boy. I can’t even describe to you the stark difference between who I was before he came into my life, and who I am now. The world would call him my “typical” son. Oh – that is so mistaken!
Benjamin, my firstborn son, this weekend officially completes his homeschool career (K-12). He is, without exaggerating, as unique and different from other boys his age as is his younger brother who has a genetic disorder. Ben was and continues to be set-apart.
I’ve had so many people ask me, over these twelve years of homeschooling, “How do you do it?” and they’re not referring to being a special needs mom. They’re asking how to raise an exceptional young man. Frequently people ask how we managed to produce a non-rebellious, non-attitude-laden teenager. What is my formula for homeschooling that resulted in this product?
So this week, as he graduates from high school, I’m gonna tell you the secret: God. It’s all God. Like, literally all of it. I realized early on that curriculum choices, academic rigor, socialization and all the other buzz words that come with schooling, are secondary. My job was simple:
“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Proverbs 22:6 NKJV
So then, I had to ask myself, “what is the way he should go?” I looked at the big picture of what makes a successful and happy adult. It’s pretty simple: a real, deep, honest relationship with God. An intimate dependance on God and an acknowledgement that His love, His power and His presence are vital. So for our entire homeschool career, all the while learning about planets, or multiplication, or European history, I encouraged and fostered a Benjamin that was NOT dependent on mom or dad. Not dependent on friends or familiar surroundings. Dependent on God. I made sure he knew that the reason to do things, and not do other things, wasn’t to please me, it was to please God. Since a young age, He was aware of an accountability to his Heavenly father which superseded an accountability to his Earthly one.
The key was all God for Benjamin, and equally all God for me. I don’t mean acting Godly, or talking about God, it was pursuing my own total dependence on Him. I knew my smart boy would quickly be able to discern the difference and a “do as I say, not as I do” policy would never be enough. I intentionally increased the amount of time I spent seeking God, and worked hard to make sure that I was pursuing what I wanted Ben to pursue. I didn’t push him, or tell him, I didn’t fake-model it for him to see, I just did it myself. Privately, before he ever woke up each morning I spent more and more time in the Word and in prayer. I didn’t drag him to the kitchen table to hear me read the Bible and do a devotion. I simply did those things as faithfully and earnestly as possible in every season of our lives.
I messed up a lot. I made mistakes with everything: teaching, balancing work schedule, mothering, cleaning, etc. But I knew all along that if my young son was looking to God for his guidance, direction, comfort and encouragement, I could screw up a few things and he would be just fine. I think that is the key: Because I was never setting myself up to be Benjamin’s source of truth, perfection or satisfaction, then he would always be o.k.
Ben, with the homeschool transcript I typed for him, has now been accepted to multiple universities and colleges. As I envision him out in the world, away from home, and encountering any one of a myriad of possible scenarios in which he will be betrayed, heartbroken, tempted or otherwise compromised there is only one thing that I want to know in my heart of hearts. Will he be able to withstand those things all on his own? Two points higher on his ACT wont help him. Faster math computations will be no consolation. I know the only way I can answer “yes” is if he knows to immediately and unequivocally tap into God as his resource, his defense, his shelter and his strength. (Please know, as a side note, that we pursued an academically rigorous course of study and never compromised in Ben’s formal education).
God. Lead your kids to Him. Lead yourself to Him. For all of you who’ve asked, that is my really honest answer to how you can raise/homeschool super special kids, teenagers, and adults.