This post was in response to a thread on an email group. The discussion was about the high incidence of teenage rebellion in homeschooled children.

Sadly, I think there is a lot of myth and fear surrounding the teen years, especially amongst home schoolers. We don’t need to stick our heads in the sand and only discuss that which we want to hear- we need to know what is happening.

Big Questions

I believe that there comes a time in everyone’s life where they start to examine and question the big issues of life: why are we here? Who put us here? What happens when we die? Our answer or thoughts to these questions make us do the things we do.

We want to teach our children these things that we have taken on as belief and faith. We do teach them. We homeschool so we can spend more time with our children, building the relationship, instilling values, etc

There comes a time when a child starts to question those big issues of life. That isn’t wrong- it is necessary if one is to grow and be an individual person (a child of God), rather than a sheep. I see this as a transference of faith– where the child may start to take responsibility for their relationship with God. They are able to go directly to God for themselves and not relying upon their mum or dad. (Of course this is when some parents start to get concerned as that relationship may appear different to their relationship with God)

What happens if this taking ownership of faith does not happen? Well, it still may shift but instead of relying upon Mum and Dad’s faith, they may rely upon someone else’s: their boyfriend, husband, pastor, friends, magazine, tv, etc (The enemy is vying for the heart of all and is actively working toward gaining it via any means). They either take ownership of the faith they were raised in or they transfer it and take the beliefs or faith of someone else.

I think that we make a grave mistake in looking for any kind of formula. We think that if we homeschool, then our children will turn out okay. But then we have to homeschool a certain way or it won’t ‘work’. We have to avoid this, avoid that, do this, don’t do that…Oh, it’s all so hard – so many rules.

I believe that many of us deeply believe that there is a formula:

1 child + homeschool = Success

I also believe that many of us believe there is a recipe for failure, and it looks like this:

1 child + school = Failure.

Oh, I know that when we see it written so boldly like that we don?t agree that we think that way but?when it gets down to the heart of the matter it is often what is in our heart.

A Matter of Grace

Raising children is a matter of grace, in my opinion. It isn’t about a formula or a recipe. Whether or not a person realises they’re forgiven and walks in it when they are 15 or 45 doesn’t change the fact that it’s all about GRACE. Salvation is a work of grace and after all, salvation is what most of us desire for our children more so than simply the appearance of right living.

If one does follow recipe number one : 1 child + homeschool = Success, then I have to ask, is it about them and their parenting methods or is it about God’s redeeming grace? We need to know and accept that we cannot obtain our child’s salvation! (Having accepted that we can start getting on our knees)

We can lead them to Him, lead them in the ways of Him…teach them all about Him, and teach them to obey us as parents…but that internal work of the heart – to respond to God and obey Him is not within our control. We are the messenger, the herald who proclaims the message. The onus is on the hearer to hear and obey.

So what can we do?

We can pray! We can proclaim the message unabashedly! We can live by example. We can train in matters of outwardness. And we can hope.

There will come a time in their life when they question what they believe…it might look shaky for awhile but if the foundation is solid (that foundation being the message- the message of the work of the Cross through Christ) then we can be assured that God will indeed graft them into the vine and call them His own. They will start to see this as their faith…their belief and not just that of their parents. This is a most BEAUTIFUL happening!!!! Truly wondrous!

I have met and had the pleasure of knowing a few Christian young people. Young ones who have a desire to serve God, to serve others and have a great relationship with their parents and siblings. Yet, they were not taught at home. They attended schools. Both public schools and private schools. Upon talking to their parent’s, I came to see that there are some common denominators: Relationship, time, love, acceptance, gentleness, firmness, boundaries, laughter, etc.

However, I still think we’re missing something in all this. It’s all too easy to look at family and judge their efforts or judge the fruit by the 16yo. However, I don’t believe that we can or should do that. I have heard it said, and I believe it to be true, that our true test of parenting isn’t seen until we watch how our children parent. How do our children parent our grandchildren? That’s when we see the fruit of our job.

We can’t look at a 15yo, who is mulling over the big issues of life and struggling with it (which can be a normal part of maturing into an independent adult), and judge a family by that! In the same way, we can’t look at a family who has an obedient and God-fearing 16yo and assume that they have it altogether, thereby desiring to emulate their parenting. We don’t know where that person will be when they are 30, once away from the watchful eye of parents and responsible for themselves. So often we look over the operative word in Proverbs 22: 6 “when he is old”, not when he is a teen.

I was speaking to a beautiful elderly man a few weeks ago at church. He had previously preached and I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned things. His son is an assistant pastor at the church (the elderly fellow isn’t a pastor) and preaches…just not quite as deep and insightful as his dad 😉 Anyway, we were talking about parenting and John and I questioned him about his parenting approach, as we usually do when we see the ripe fruit 😉

He encouraged us to do as much with our children as we could- to teach them God’s way, to love them, to laugh with them, to be firm with them and to not get too hung up over the teen years. He found out we home-schooled and was encouraging about that but he just kept saying the same thing:relationship! His children went to public school. I know of others who have sent their children to public school and they have grown to be productive fruits in the kingdom of God, serving Him with their lives.

I believe we’d do much better to study and learn about how God parents us! For He is the ultimate parent! How does he love, teach, guide, command us? What does He expect of us? Then as we relate our parenting from God, we may be parents after His own heart.

So with the whole rebellion thing…gee I went down a garden path there eh?

What do we really mean by ‘rebellion’?

Do we mean that the children haven’t adopted our way of thinking in every aspect…do they not adhere to ‘our’ standards of dress, music, etc or do we mean that they have discarded (turned their back on) the ways of God and His word?

Ah, it’s truly a big question I believe…and one that would be good thought and discussion for Australian homeschoolers as home education continues to grow and develop in this country.

As for me, I’ll keep praying for my children… I’ll keep living according to Micah 6:8. Keep proclaiming the gospel of Christ- salvation by grace through faith. And keep building relationships with them so that when the days of questioning come, they will see the Jesus living in me and know that Jesus is the way.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8