Teenage years are when children are supposed to pull away from family and establish their own identity - right? This is the time when peers guide decision making and influence personal style. That is not happening for us. We don’t quite fit into that generally accepted definition of adolescence.
My girls are not locked in to teenage cliques, they are not driven to emulate the latest Miley Cyrus antics, nor are they pressured to make the same kinds of decisions I made at thirteen, decisions that were ill advised and harmful, not only to my body, but to my relationship with my parents as well.
I am not suggesting that keeping children out of school is the key to teenage bliss. Adolescence has its share of challenges. However, I do see that my daughters have no desire to separate from their family, at least not yet anyway. Since their birth I have strived to maintain strong family connections with family members near and far. From infancy, we journeyed two hours north to visit my Grandmother every Thursday so my girls would know her and remember her when she passed on. I am so grateful I took this time. I clearly remember the resentment I felt when Grace entered Kindergarten because our Thursday routine was disrupted. We had to wait for school holidays to visit my Gram. By the time we decided to pursue homeschooling, my Gram was no longer well enough for weekly visits, and many of my trips north were with my mother and sister, so that my girls could keep their memories of my Gram as a happy, spunky, full of life woman who taught them about faith and love and family.
It is just as important to maintain family relationships now that my girls are older, perhaps it is even more so. We are blessed with a close family. My girls are loved on by aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, great uncles, grandparents and family friends. I think the saddest part of adolescence is the time stolen away due to homework, test prep, and school calendars. The message is very clear that school and schoolwork come first, family second. I admire the way my sister handles homework with her teenage sons. Sunday dinner at my mom’s is never abandoned because homework is not finished. My nephews have it done before so that they can spend time surrounded by those who love them. This matters, as much or even more than a few algebra problems or chapters of a novel.
We still take the time out of our week to visit with family and friends. I want my girls to have men and women in their lives who are not only friends of their parents, but mentors to them. I want them to know their cousins, their great aunts and uncles as more than a name on a birthday or Christmas card. When I wonder if we should stay home to work on a history project or finish up the last few pages of a book, I always decide that those things can wait for another day. The opportunity to be surrounded by love and laughter shouldn’t be squandered. It is precious.
It is one of the aspects of homeschooling that I am most grateful for.