“We have to remember we are raising our children for heaven, not Harvard,” a sincere homeschool mom told me once.
Another homeschool mom I know, who herself went to Princeton, said, “Well, I don’t think that the two things are mutually exclusive.”
Yes! They are not mutually exclusive. My opinion is that we should strive for excellence and seeing our children reach their highest academic potential, while also cultivating in them hearts that fully know, love, and seek after God.
But, having said that, I fully understand the sentiment behind what my first friend said. When homeschooling, it is easy to get caught up in the curriculum and the push for academic excellence at all costs. Sometimes this push can cause us to lose our perspective and blur the lines of our priorities.
I have told my children many times that if they do well in school and apply themselves, they will have more choices when they finish high school. I believe this. I want my children to have open doors and as many choices as possible. So, yes, I do tend to be type-A and push them, and I tend to choose curriculum and opportunities that are a little more accelerated. [Aren’t you glad I wasn’t your mom? I do laugh with my kids a lot and I do sometimes make them cookies…so I’m not all bad.]
While I like to think I’m the most unconditionally loving mother in world, I have to admit that I also have high expectations of my kids.
Are these two things—a) loving my kids unconditionally and b) having expectations of them—things that are mutually exclusive? [I’ll have to ask my friend who went to Princeton!]
As I was ruminating on my own expectations of my children, I overheard a statement that hit me in my gut.
“Expectation can be the enemy of relationship.”
Some expectations are good and healthy. Some are not. The “good” expectations we should have are the ones God has in mind for our kids too.
We need to make sure our expectations of our kids are born out of God’s heart.
The general expectations I have of my kids—to seek after excellence, to be skillful in their work, and to be diligent—are all based in scripture. There are specific visions I have for my kids, however, that are not necessarily what God might have for them. These things are not spelled out in scripture. I need to let all of these expectations go.
We need to throw performance-based expectations out the door.
It’s the performance-based expectations that kill relationships.
I have dreams for my kids. My kids also have dreams for themselves. Maybe all these dreams will align perfectly. Maybe not. Scratch that. Probably not.
Here is the prayer of my heart: Dear Lord, help me to dream big dreams for my kids, but help me to first believe in their dreams.
May we all seek God’s kingdom first.
Maybe that’s what my homeschool-mom friend meant when she said that we should raise children for heaven.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; all other images courtesy of Amy Koons.