When we are blessed with children, they arrive as bundles of love, and with abundant hope, and rising expectations. For those of us who educate our children at home, the expectations multiply. There is pressure to perform, and fear of consequences. There is also no one else on which to shift blame if things don’t turn out like we might like.
It is for these reasons that we as homeschool parents need to be very careful about passing the results-oriented pressure we are under on to our children. Our expectations should not be allowed to cripple our children.
Here are some specific stumbling blocks we can watch for:
A child’s performance should not be the gauge of our love. We should love them no matter how many times or in how many ways they fail us. Imagine…should God predicate His love on our actions. And we are the shining light of the Father’s love to our children. Do they see their Father’s love as contingent on their performance? If so, how much will we be held accountable for the stumbling block we have placed in front of them.
Expecting Them to be Us
Our children are not little us. They have their own distinct personalities. As they grow older, they will have their own opinions. And as much as we are obedient to God’s command to train them in the way they should go, in the end they have their own faith. We will be freed of a great burden, and will have broken the bonds if we let go of any expectations we might have to create them in our image. They have a Creator. And they have been fashioned in His image for the works He ordained that they would do.
Humans will disappoint. If we cut off everyone who at some point disappoints us we will end up grumpy old loners. Are our expectations too high? Are we expecting more than a particular child is able to accomplish? Is the problem our child’s behavior or our pride?
So many times we assume what a person/child is thinking or going through rather than asking. Further, we predicate our actions based on our assumptions. This is merely another way we serve self. How long would it take to simply ask the question that would clear away any misconceptions? I remember reading about a woman who had a good relationship with her librarian. But on one visit, the librarian was cold and short to her. She immediately assumed she had done something that had offended the librarian and was ready to be defensive. But instead, she decided to ask directly, “Have I done something to offend you?” It ends up, the librarian had just recently lost someone close to her — and the woman had a chance to minister to a friend instead of losing one.
There are a number of perfectionists among us. There can be good in diligently completing our tasks for the glory of God, doing our utmost for His highest. On the other hand, when we start assessing the perfection in others (in this case, our children), and find them not living up to our expectations, we are the ones who have failed. We need to remove the beam from our own eye! If all we see in others are their failures, we can know with certainty that we need a heart transplant.
Love is unconditional. Our love cannot be dependent on how others treat us. Quite the opposite. They should see the Father’s love each time we turn the other cheek. Everything that Christianity professes to be rests on love.
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It is not some one-time event where we “accept” Christ as our Saviour and then live for our own free will.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
1 John 5:3
The fruit will be love. We will be known by our love.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. — John 13:35
Beloved, let us love on another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. — 1 John 4:7,8
He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…. — John 14:21
This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. — John 15:12
If our child’s performance does not fulfill our expectations, the consequences should be … love.