Do you ever wonder what your choice to homeschool will do to your children when they are teens? Have you prayed asking the Lord to keep them from becoming rebellious teenagers? Have others told you that if you protect your children from outside influences they will rebel against your authority when they become teens?
As the parents of children ages 22, 19, and almost 17 (in addition to our five younger ones), we are asked what we have done in raising our children so that they have not rebelled as teens. Our two oldest, both adults, still choose to live at home, minister with our family, and prepare themselves for a possible future as husbands, fathers, and spiritual heads of their homes, if God so directs. This question concerning our children not rebelling has caused me to do some thinking. A simple answer has not popped into my mind, and a Mom’s Corner seems like a good opportunity to reflect on this subject.
Usually I write Mom’s Corners about my failures and what God has taught me through them. This Mom’s Corner is along a different line. Therefore, I hesitate to share these thoughts for fear it could come across as sounding prideful, and that is not my intention. My purpose is to encourage other moms’ hearts, from one who has already walked the path and discovered that teens do not have to be rebellious. I would like to relate that path the Lord has led us along, perhaps giving you some new ideas and food for thought.
The results seen in our children’s lives are not because of Steve and me. We are very human, not close to perfect parents, failing in various ways, day after day. It is only the Lord’s grace in our lives, and the lives of our children, that has made a difference. He is the One doing the work, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). I write of these things because we are questioned on them. I see the fruit God gives of walking according to His Word, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalms 119:105). I want to counsel each of you to constantly seek the Lord as you are parenting teens or preparing to parent them.
Before reaching our children’s teen years, Steve and I did not have a “seven-step, fool-proof” biblical plan to raise godly children, nor even any plan at all; we still don’t! I can remember we discussed that we did not believe children had to go through a rebellious stage as teenagers. We were open to making decisions, even very difficult, unpopular decisions, for our family as the Lord led us. But that was the extent of our plan. Let me share with you, in retrospect, what I believe may have been used by the Lord to make the difference in our children’s lives. We don’t know for sure what the Lord Jesus has used, we can only look at where He has taken us and consider the possibilities.
Homeschooling became our choice when our oldest children were entering first and third grades. “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). We had the opportunity to present Christ to our children all day long.
Fourteen years later, we continue on that path. Our children have been spared from many negative influences by being at home for school! “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16). Simply not being around other teens who have become rebellious has certainly spared our children from watching and observing, in their own friends, such choices.
The year after we started homeschooling, Steve began getting the children up early in the morning to have a family time reading the Bible and praying before he went to work. Reading Scripture through the years helped our children see the choices set before them of God’s way versus foolishness and rebellion.
“The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1-7). I know Steve’s spiritual leadership in our home, the importance he placed on his own personal time in the Word, and our family time in the Word has had a profound influence on our children.
When our boys were in their late elementary years, we made the decision to take them out of team sports. As we observed team sports and our sons’ interactions there, we became concerned that there was more negative growing from this than positive. We saw hearts drawn to peer influences, entertainment, competition, and pride. Any one of these could lead a child toward the road of rebellion since they are at odds with God’s will and parents’ desires. Surely, with all of them, we placed our boys at great risk if we allowed them to continue in team sports. Matthew 6:24, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. . . .”
Steve prayed, sought the Lord, and knew the time had come to remove them from sports. He took each of the boys out for a soda, individually, to explain his heart in this situation. It was very difficult for us, because we all had pride and excitement in our hearts since these sons were excelling in their sport. James 4:6, “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” However, the boys could see their Daddy’s desire was for their good, and they were willing to trust his leadership, submitting to his decision.
We have felt that if we kept our children from peer influences by homeschooling them, we would undermine this if we placed them in church youth groups (or team sports) where many of these same influences would be felt. Proverbs 10:17, “. . . but he that refuseth reproof erreth.” Therefore, we have purposely looked for and chosen churches that did not have a youth group. We knew it would be hard for our teens to hear about youth activities and watch youth involved in them but be kept on the outside.
We have been so blessed these past several years to be in a church with no youth group by the church’s decision. The teens are growing in wisdom and stature under their own fathers’ authority, teaching, and direction. Proverbs 1:8-9, “My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck.” Several families have shared how they have been drawn to this church by observing the young people and their ministries. They know in their hearts that this is the pattern they desire for their own children.
Not wanting to leave a void in the children’s lives when activities were removed or prevented, we chose to replace them with our time and activities, if possible. One way this was accomplished was in Steve instituting a weekly meeting with each of the three older children. This was done on Sunday before or after church with just Steve and one child at a time. They would discuss anything on either of their hearts. These meetings still continue; they are a private matter, with me seldom knowing what was talked about during this time. Often when issues come up during the week, Steve will say, “That would be a good topic for our meeting.” With a special time set aside each week to share hearts, the children have been able to approach their father with their concerns and vice versa–a certain opportunity for keeping the hearts of our children.