And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
I love this verse because the Lord knew our minds would wander, doubt, and get stuck in a cycle of fear and worry. He reminds us to fix our thoughts on the truth and meditate on the good and lovely things He has promised to us. The definition of "fix" is to decide and settle on, so we must turn our thoughts with deliberate intention. I think most parents can relate to worrying about their kids. Whether it's school, friendships, physical and mental limitations, their future spouse, or what college they'll attend, it sometimes feels like a tidal wave of worry will overtake us. And what course of action are we tempted to take when things feel out of control? We want to take back control!!!
A great quote from the book The Self Driven Child, by William Stixrud says, "We really can't control our kids – and doing so shouldn't be our goal. Our role is to teach them to think and act independently, so that they will have the judgment to succeed in school, and more important, in life."
Practically speaking, what does this look like in our homes? For me, it looks like telling my son, "Let me know if you need my help or advice with anything this afternoon, but remember, at 6 pm, we need to leave the house to head to baseball practice." Whereas another dialogue after school may sound like, "I need you to get out all of your school work and let me look over it with a fine-tooth comb and make a homework schedule for you this week!" Taking "control" relieves my stress, but what happens when my kid doesn't live with me anymore? Do I care more about my teenager's homework than they do? Is my goal to bring them into independence or keep them stuck in a cycle of codependency? Of course, age appropriateness plays into this. An elementary student does need a lot more help and guidance from a parent than a middle school student.
One of our wonderful math teachers told me that my son "was going to struggle but that he would learn to struggle well!" In the past, this statement would have caused me to panic and want to take control to avoid any struggle or stress, but this statement shouldn't cause us to fear because scripture reminds us that perseverance produces character.
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
I encourage you to embrace CCA as a safe place to let your child learn to "struggle well" and to grow your child's sense of personal responsibility. The assignments may be more strenuous, the expectations from the teacher may be higher, the balance of learning how to manage their time can be a long process, but letting our kids feel some empowerment will make a huge difference. When they know that mom won't hover over their work or frantically email their teachers when they hit a roadblock, it empowers them to grow, mature, and become self-motivated, which is what we want our children to be! When our children struggle, we can show them empathy and resourcefulness by saying something like, "Wow, this is a difficult situation. What do you think could help?"
I am not denying "letting go of the reins" won't be painful, but it will pay dividends in the future. We want our children to learn to manage their freedom well and be proud that they are capable of making wise choices.
Classical education teaches our kids how to think critically and problem solve, so let's partner with our school and empower our students at home, too. Then, when they head out into the world, where the stakes will be much higher, they will go with confidence, knowing they are capable and that their God is with them.