Encouragement Homeschool

When in Doubt, Seek Support!

support

One of the most common feelings expressed to me by other homeschooling moms is self-doubt. Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right? Am I organized enough? Am I doing too much? Am I getting through to my kids? Am I measuring up to other moms?

Notice a trend? The relentless “am I” questions are sure to wear you down quickly and steer your focus in the wrong direction. Soon comparison joins in, feeding the self-doubt and robbing you of the joy homeschooling can bring.

This was me in our first homeschooling year. I am a homeschool graduate, the eldest of eight children who was in my last two years of high school when my mom began homeschooling in the late 80s. I thought I had it all figured out because of my background, and pridefully, I thought I could be a “better” homeschooler too. But in the real world of daily ups and downs, I quickly failed to measure up to my own lofty criteria.

Especially when I compared myself to other moms in my homeschool support group that appeared to have it all together. Instead of reaching out for mentorship and support, I put on a good face with my homeschooling friends. Not a wise move, it turns out!

Once I allowed self-doubt to settle in, I careened down a slippery slope that led to anxiety and fear. Halfway through year two of homeschooling, it turned into a daily struggle with physical symptoms of anxiety. Although I needed supportive friends more than ever, I isolated myself for fear of being “found out” as a complete failure.

Praise God that I did reach out to Him for help, and in time, I recovered from this very painful experience. I also realized that I should have never allowed myself to be alone. Not only because God was on my side, but because I had a supportive husband, homeschooling sisters and sisters-in-law, and even a budding network of homeschooling friends that I could have reached out to. God had placed these encouraging people in my life as a safety net, but I had waited too long to stop walking a tightrope of unrealistic expectations.

Defeating the self-doubt that attacks us as homeschooling moms starts with something simple: Get rid of the “I” in these questions! As soon as we realize that we are not in this alone, we can start finding guidance and support in the right places.

The Lord doesn’t want us to simply survive, He wants us to thrive! If God has led you to homeschooling, then He’s laid out a safety net for you, too.

When in doubt:

1) Start with God and His word. If your homeschooling “why” is driven by your faith in God and what you believe He calls you to do for your children, then His answers to your homeschooling questions are the most important. Prayer and bible study is critical for defeating self-doubt and turning the “I” over to God. Allow Him to direct your path, and don’t be surprised when He leads you in a different direction. (Prov. 3:5-6)

It takes real effort to put an end to the constant struggle between “ideal” expectations and God’s plans for you. You have to retrain your brain with the right thoughts about yourself, your identity in Christ, and God’s words of truth about motherhood. In my personal journey to conquer self-doubt, two books have really blessed me: “Battlefield of the Mind” by Joyce Meyer, and “Desperate” by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. If you’re battling self-doubt, comparison, and anxiety or depression, these are both must-reads!

2) Include your spouse. This should have been easy for me because my husband (who was also formerly homeschooled) has always been an advocate for our homeschooling. However, I let my pride convince me that if I wasn’t “working” all day like he was, I should manage my homeschooling problems on my own. To ask for help from him would mean admitting my weakness, and I wanted to be stronger than that.

However, God created the family dynamic for our benefit. Without going into the details of gender roles and family structure, I will say that I believe God designed women differently because of how He intended for us to function in our family — differently from our husbands. Parenting is a partnership, but father and mother have different roles and responsibilities. When we take on the “whole” responsibility (and burden) of homeschooling, we don’t take advantage of the gifts and support our husbands bring to the table.

I realize that not all homeschooling moms have a supportive husband or family member to share the responsibility of homeschooling with. If you are in this situation, I believe the Lord does have someone prepared to support you on your homeschooling journey that you can seek out through prayer — a mentor. Keep reading!

3) Seek out a mentor. You would think that because my husband and I were homeschooled, that I was “set” in the mentor department. Why not just ask my mom or my father-in-law (he did the homeschooling) for advice and guidance?

There are times when I do ask them for help. In fact, they have given me great advice over the years. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel like I could open up to them about my self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. Once again, pride and the fact that they thought so highly of me kept me from being honest. Now I know how important it is to open yourself up to a mentor who can walk alongside you when times are tough.

When I think of the often-referenced “Titus 2” woman, what I am drawn to about her is her circle of support. Younger women — and new moms, and new homeschoolers — have a lot to gain from the wisdom of more experienced women who’ve walked in our shoes. Pray for the Lord to guide you to an ideal mentor, whether it’s a family member or friend, or someone new that He leads you to reach out to.

4) Engage in your homeschool community. Initially, I think we all seek out homeschool support groups because we want to belong to a like-minded community. Or maybe you’re looking for practical support: Organized co-ops, enrichment programs, social opportunities. Compared to the days when my mom homeschooled and we drove almost an hour to be part of the closest homeschool group, it’s never been easier to find a group to fit one or all of the support needs on your wish list.

Whatever the reason, I think homeschool support groups are important as long as you proceed with caution. What I mean by this is that once you open yourself up to group, the dynamic can be both positive and negative. Everyone won’t always agree, and you won’t always “click” with all the group members. You also don’t want to fall into the comparison trap with the other homeschooling moms.

For a separate discussion of the pros and cons of homeschool support groups, you can read this post on NextGen Homeschool . Here, I will say that plugging in to the local homeschool community is an important part of building your personal support network. Within the group, you may develop a few close friendships with women you can open up to in times of need, and vice versa.

The bottom line is this: God wants us to depend on Him and trust Him completely, but He doesn’t intend for us to journey alone. Reach out to those He has placed in your life to be your safety net. And if you need more “lines” of support, it’s time to step out in faith, get out of the house, and find them.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” — Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Renee Gotcher

 

— Renée Gotcher is an entrepreneur, writer, wife & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. A former journalist, she is currently the editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter . Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

NOTE: The photo at the top of this post is from www.freedigitalphotos.net.

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16 Comments

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  • Thank you for posting this! I can relate to a lot of what you wrote and I just want to say thank you for helping me re-focus my perspective and remember the real reasons my husband and I hope to homeschool our children. I was starting to feel the same way and my little ones are babies right now! Thank you for being so honest! God bless you and your family! 🙂

    • Hi Britney! I am so glad my post spoke to you and encourages you to refocus on the heart of your homeschooling mission. I pray that the Lord bless you and your family on your homeschooling journey and that you never feel alone! 🙂
      Renée

  • It is crazy how much God does provide for us, if only we pay attention! While my husband is not able to help with the actual school work, he helps in many other ways. He is supportive, does not say anything if the house is not Marth Stewart clean, he was as excited as I, when our daughter picked up her first chapter book to read on her own, he takes the kids on the weekend days so I can breath and many more things. God also has placed many people in my life that are what I need, a support structure of people that can encourage me, support me, and also tell me no, that won’t work.

    • Thanks for sharing KB! I agree that support can come in many forms, and having a supportive husband that is a blessing, especially when you’re homeschooling. Glad to hear you have the support structure you need!
      Renée

  • This post comes at the right time. Today have been a day in which I have doubt everything I’m doing with my 1st grader homeschooler :'(….But have been able to talk it with my husband and by talking to him and seeking God peace and perspective my anxiety is coming down. Thanks so much for you honesty and advice.

    • I am so glad to hear that your talk with your husband and prayer helped bring you peace! Homeschooling is not an easy road, and the support of your spouse and trust in God will help you get through those difficult times! Praise God for His peace & joy!
      Blessings to you & your family, DC!
      Renée

  • Thank you so much for this post. It was really timely and of much inspiration to me. Oh Desperate is one of my favorite books and I have just been introduced to Joyce Myer so I am really excited. Have a joy filled blessed weekend.

    • I am so glad to hear this, Tara! God is so good, and I know He has brought blog posts and books into my life at just the right time — when I not only needed the advice, but my heart was ready to receive it! And “Desperate” is such an encouraging book! Another book I failed to mention in this post but was really key for me at the beginning of my healing from anxiety is “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it. Her gift-counting “joy dare” really blessed me, especially for those especially challenging homeschooling days.
      Blessings to you & your family!
      Renée

  • What a great article!

    I am a new homeschooling Mama myself. I have never been homeschooled an I adventurously pulled our four children out of school this year to start this journey. Has it been easy? No way! But has it had its benefits. A resounding YES!
    I agree that we all need to stop comparing ourselves, and get out there and find support. I have found a great group of women that I can contact when I need to. Blogging has also been a form of therapy for me 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Rachel! I am so glad to hear you’ve got a great group of women to connect with for support. Blogging is a big help for me too, especially connecting with other bloggers who inspire me but are also real and I feel like I can relate to! Thanks for sharing – I’ve got your blog on my list now. 🙂
      Renée

  • Thank you so much for being honest and your words are truly helpfull. it can be hard not to see other moms and not say “well they are so put together why cant i be”. Thank you for helping by sharing your story.

  • I’m crying, in pain and fear of failure to our kids. This is something we wanted for our kids for years. But, through hard times real guidance I held it off. Now, so far our son is out of a dying educational system. My husban and I are happy to now have control of his studies and make him a powerful, intelligent man. But, now I’m struggling with no one but my hard working husban to talk to. My son struggles with things I never knew existed because I placed so much trust in the school system. And, only doing this for 2 months now an evaluation is coming. I’m doing the best I can. I have no support groups here and need help! I just don’t want to fail our kids or myself?

    • If you need support and to be able to ask questions, you may want to join the Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook Community! https://www.facebook.com/groups/HipHomeschoolMomsCommunity/ Also, if you’re not sure about the evaluation that’s coming, HSLDA may be able to give you some guidance. You can find them at hslda.org. They’re the Home School Legal Defense Association. I hope this information is helpful!! We all struggle now and then, but it does get easier as you go!

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