My wife and I are normal people. Neither of us really excel at anything in particular. We can both figure things out that need figuring, but we are just average at nearly everything we do. Our house is pretty clean, but never perfect. I can fix broken things, but never quite as good as new. We can both cook well enough to enjoy eating, but we're not experts. We're definitely not volunteer doctors touring the world repairing cleft pallets and removing tumors and our super hero skills always fall flat.
So how are two average people changing the world? We're doing it the way countless parents before us have done it. We're raising good kids. Don't get me wrong, they're not perfect and we aren't without challenges as parents, but that's part of what makes us normal. Like other moms and dads everywhere we strive each day to meet the needs of our children. We provide for them, we correct them we encourage them, and we discipline them. Some days we do it better than others, but we never stop trying.
So what's our secret? That part is easy. We share a common foundation built upon biblical truths. It's upon the timeless and unchanging words of scripture that we structure our lives. As Christians, we understand that each of our children will grow up to make their own decisions, but that doesn't change the duty we have to pour ourselves into them while they are young.
As individuals, we may never change the world, but as parents, we could very well be shaping someone who will. When we keep that perspective in mind, we can't help but see ourselves as successful beyond measure.
My wife recently stumbled across a speech by Denzel Washington. In it, he made a couple of very profound statements that I think will resonate with every parent. The first statement was simple. He said, "If you haven't failed, you're not trying."
How many parents feel as if they have failed at some point? How many homeschooling parents feel as if they have failed? Raising kids is hard, but does that mean we quit trying when we fail? Look around. All of your friends have failed at parenting in some way. Did they quit? No, they kept on trying.
Parenting isn't a formula. Often it boils down to a series of adjustments made in response to the random things our kids throw at us everyday. We are constantly tweaking how we interact with our kids because they aren't all the same. What worked for one may be a total failure for another.
In the speech, Denzel went on to say, "To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did." How true that is when it comes to parenting. We all try it for the first time without any experience. And then we do something else we've never done when baby number two comes along and is totally different from baby number one. And the cycle continues as they grow, always presenting us with new chances for failure and new chances for success.
Don't let momentary parenting failures define who you are. Let your never-ending quest to be the best you can be define you. Let your refusal to accept failure be your legacy.
If you want to see the whole speech, here's the link.
Last week I received an email that made me smile. It was from a former student. Actually, it was from two students. Twin sisters. If teachers were allowed to have a list of favorite students of all time, these two girls would be near the top. I was thrilled to hear what they were up to and how I had played a small part in shaping their lives.
I occasionally hear from past students, sometimes even from kids who have moved away, but this email was a first. After leaving my class, these two girls moved to Norway. What a small world it is when a couple of teenagers can track down an old teacher a half a world away using nothing but the internet.
I've recently been reflecting on the power of relationships when it comes to teaching. I'm reminded of the time I was able to fly across the country to attend the high school graduation of an old student. Or the time a student moved an hour away and I made arrangements with his mom to visit him and take him out to lunch on the back of a motorcycle. Another student made the perfect babysitter for my kids when they were younger. All of these are kids I will never forget. They impacted me as much as I impacted them. That's what a relationship is.
And that is where you, as a homeschooling parent, have the biggest advantage known to educators. You have a built-in relationship with every one of your students. You can take them out for a one-on-one lunch any time you want. You can tuck them into bed at night. You can listen to them pour out their frustrations without anyone accusing you of anything inappropriate.
Without a healthy student/teacher relationship, curriculum doesn't matter. How well you present information doesn't matter. Textbooks are worthless, but you are valuable. Kids listen to you because they know you. They trust you and feel safe around you. There may be days when you say that your kids would be better off with someone else, and that may be true for specific subjects, but the relationship you have with your kids can never be replaced.
Cherish the moments you have with your kids. Shape them. Grow them. Guide them through their young years as you walk beside them. And always know that you are the perfect person for the job. No one could ever do it better.