Parenting My Way With No Regrets
My youngest child turned sixteen last month. He passed his learner’s permit test and earned the privilege to drive a car with a licensed driver in the seat next to him. We talked about his hopes and dreams for the future. I listened when he chattered on about his favorite books knowing that I instilled a love to read in him. It’s fascinating how my parenting shaped him. He talked about owning a house large enough to have a library for his book collection. The description was so vivid that I, too, saw his dream. My son and I had conversations about politics and current events. It made me proud that he educated himself on topics when so many others in our world spoke out without having knowledge.
While parenting didn’t come with a handbook, unsolicited advice was given out more than anyone wanted. It was my experience that raising children runs in trends. What was popular, acceptable, and correct one day became forgotten practices the next. By the time my third and final child came along, I decided to parent by instinct. If it made sense and was good for my family, it was incorporated into my routine.
The freedom to choose my son’s path impacted who he was becoming. My instincts told me that my son needed a change of atmosphere between elementary and high school. He had been in a formal classroom since he was three. That was nine years of brick-and-mortar learning with six more to go. He was attending school and had good grades yet he lost his passion for discovery. It made sense to slow life down for him and so we chose to homeschool. It wasn’t the popular thing to do amongst my friends and family.
I ignored the naysayers who suggested my instinct was wrong. Those close to us argued that learning from home would not benefit his social life. They predicted my son would become an outcast and would lose his friendships. The cynics said he would forget how to socialize. Furthermore, they were sure he couldn’t learn anywhere except in a classroom, sitting upright at a desk as a teacher stood before him. I listened as they expressed their concerns that he would fall below educational standards. Regardless, it felt right and was good for us, so we stayed the course.
My teaching method matched my parenting style, which was anything but expected. What mattered most was bringing back a love of learning for my son. The best way was to let him pursue what he was passionate about. He chose what, how, and when to learn. For two years, he chose the direction of his education. It made sense, and it was good for us.
It turns out that everyone was wrong. My son remembered how to socialize. He kept the relationships he built with all of his buddies, and most of all he thrived during his “brick-and-mortar hiatus.” He taught himself to speak Japanese and learned about Stoicism and King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, also known as “The Leper King,” all because he wanted to. After two years, he applied to a competitive tech program, where he was accepted. He will exit that program with a high school diploma and an associate degree in mechanical engineering. I did what made sense and felt right. It wasn’t always what everyone else was doing. I was parenting my way and had no regrets.