As homeschooling moms, we spend a lot of time with our children. A lot! Is neglecting them in any way even possible for us?
We sacrifice so much to invest in the lives of our children. We surrender our time and our money. We give up personal liberties other moms enjoy, and we set our own dreams and pursuits aside, sometimes for decades, all that we may focus on our children’s education during their most formative years.
We’re there for our kids. We’re involved. We’re engaged.
And though I don’t mean to imply we don’t also sometimes struggle with self-doubt, it’s still true we may occasionally be guilty of a slight superiority complex, at least where parental involvement is concerned. And maybe, just maybe sometimes we begin to think ourselves a mite infallible when it comes to the possibility of neglecting of our children.
But sometimes even the super-involved, hyper-engaged homeschooling mom can be too busy for her own children.
- Sometimes we can be so committed to math practice and phonics review that we don’t have time to answer sincere, heartfelt questions about life or death or faith.
- Sometimes we can be so worried about making it to co-op or participating in the homeschool group science fair that we don’t realize the fear that has gripped our children because of a neighbor’s house fire or a relative’s divorce.
- Sometimes we can be so dedicated to our lesson planning and our paper grading that we can’t take time for the puppet show the kids have put together for us or the camping trip we promised we’d take them on.
- Sometimes we can be so focused on getting breakfast and starting our day that we can’t take time for a little one who just wants to be cuddled.
Now I’m not trying to load any moms with more guilt than they’re carrying around with them already, nor am I trying to level unrealistic expectations upon us. Lessons have to be planned, fractions have to be learned, and dirty clothes have to be washed, folded, and put away. We have responsibilities we can’t get away from no matter how hard we try.
And I also know some of you are mothers to nonstop, never-take-a-breath talkers. Listening at all times to all stories Is. Not. Possible. I get it. I had one of those question-askers myself. He asked 14,000 questions per day, every single day, all day long, inevitably saving his most profound questions for bedtime when my brain was totally fried. Thank God he grew out of that. Mostly.
I’m also well aware that sometimes life throws us curveballs, and our best intentions get hijacked by real life. We can’t always do all the things we want to do with our kids or be there for every event or be involved in every way we would like. We can’t help that, and we can’t beat ourselves up over it.
But at the same time, we’re kidding ourselves if we think that exhausting process we call “school” singularly provides our children with all the time and attention they need from us. It’s good. It’s great! But it’s not the quality time our kids need from us most.
I want to be discerning.
It can be easy to get so busy even with good and needful things, sometimes with just those things revolving around school, that I fail to recognize when a child needs my help in more essential areas. I want to be in-tune enough to perceive personal problems that need to be discussed, complicated questions that need answers, and character issues that need to be dealt with.
I want to be approachable.
If I am a bundle of stress all the time or forever buried in my oh-so-important To-Do list, why should I expect my kids to come to me with their moral dilemmas or their deep, theological questions? No, I can’t give each of my children my constant undivided attention, but they need to be assured regularly that the housework and the school planning and whatever else I may be trying to do on the side is not more important to me than they are.
I want to be trustworthy.
If I make a promise to my child, I need to keep it. If that means I make fewer promises, so be it, but it is neglectful and hurtful to casually push aside promises I’ve made to my kids because I’m too busy or because “something came up.” Yes, there are sometimes circumstances beyond my control, but if I tell my kids we’ll go out for ice cream if they finish their schoolwork early, then I need to stick by that. If I tell them I’ll do that craft with them after supper, then I need to do it. Kids pay attention to those little promises, and the way I handle them will either strengthen or damage their trust and confidence in me.
I want to be there for my kids. But being there is about far more than math and science and language arts. It’s about relationships. And I never want to neglect the part of my homeschool that matters most.
Have you ever felt like you were neglecting your kids? What changes did you make to ensure relationships were always the priority?