“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It begins early, this pressure to decide a career path. And it is complicated by well-meaning, but unrealistic, adults who encourage a child by saying, “You can be ANY thing you want.”
A wide-open world of career opportunities awaits these children. Schools are set up to encourage them to take the classes and pursue the subjects that will help them advance toward their given career choice.
For homeschoolers, I feel there is an increased pressure. We all want our children to *really* succeed don’t we? I mean REALLY succeed, so that we can prove that homeschooling works. Kids who graduate from home can really make something of themselves, and the parents who were responsible breathe a sigh of relief that we didn’t totally ruin our kids’ lives.
Now, there are many things to say about this pressure, real or imagined, and this post should only be of a certain length. Let me pick only one aspect about this pressure we put on ourselves (as I’m sure many parents from all school systems do) to have our kids “really succeed” in an “impressive” career.
What kinds of careers do you think make homeschooling look good?
I know homeschooled kids who are now lawyers. That’s impressive.
One is an astrophysicist. That’s impressive.
I know nurses, midwives, registered massage therapists, professional musicians, paramedics, and teachers. That’s impressive.
Well done, homeschoolers!
But, what about a homeschooled plumber? Is that impressive? What about a welder? A stay at home mom. Is that impressive?
Think about it for a moment.
Imagine it is the middle of July. And it is scorching hot. And you are expecting company during summer vacation. Suddenly, you realize that the sewer is backing up in to your basement. What’s more impressive to you right now: a plumber or a doctor?
Imagine it is the middle of the night and your child wakes up with a spiking fever and is lethargic and nauseous. What is more impressive to you right now: a plumber or a doctor?
We need both, don’t we? There is a never-ending string of scenarios we could play out in which we would need different people with different skill sets who can impress us with their abilities in different ways.
This relieves the pressure on us, as the conscientious teachers, and on our kids, as the confused students. They are being asked in grade nine to choose the university path they want to take in 4 years, thus determining their occupation until they retire at 65. Half of them haven’t even hit puberty yet and we’re asking them to map out their career path? And we, at the same time, are trying to cover every possible subject to give them the most well-rounded education so that they can be ‘anything’ they want.
That’s not okay.
Here’s the freedom: the Lord tells us to train up a child in the way he should go. “Train up” reads more as “narrow up” in the original language. That is to say that we don’t need to give our kids such a broad education that they can do “anything”; rather, we need to seek the Lord’s wisdom to find their ‘bent’ or their calling and then direct them in that one path.
And you know what? If your child is being primed by the Lord to be interested in medicine and neurosurgery, you can homeschool that kid. And university can happen and you can sit back and say, “It worked! We were successful. Look! We raised a brain surgeon!”
And you know what else? If your child is being primed by the Lord to be interested in trades, you can homeschool that kid. And an apprenticeship can happen and you can sit back and say, “It worked! We were successful. Look! We raised an electrician!”
And you know what else? If your child is being primed by the Lord to be interested in home making, you can homeschool that kid. And she can stay home and have babies, and you can sit back and say, “It worked! We were successful. Look! We raised a stay at home mom!”
We can do this. We can seek the Lord’s guidance, we can be good students of our children, we can evaluate their gifts, we can study the needs in the world around them, and we can give our kids the education they need to be a success the way the Lord intends.
Be careful in how you evaluate potential careers for your child. Be careful in how you judge those careers. This world needs doctors, lawyers, and engineers. This world also needs brick layers, mechanics, and policemen. We need landscapers and garbage men. We need teachers and nurses. We need pastors and missionaries. We need secretaries and journalists. We need computer programmers and computer delivery men. We need moms and dads.
Let’s pray for wisdom. Let’s teach really well. This post is surely not a call to slack off on our teaching or lower expectations for excellence! It is a call, however, to choose to encourage our kids to be what the Lord is calling them to be. And to focus on their character more than on their potential business card. (But that’s another post for another day!) Success for us as parents? Success for our kids as future career people? It looks like obedience to God’s will. And that is the best occupation for all of us.
Barbara and her husband educate their seven children at home and have found that no two are the same! Barbara is currently writing a book about her battle with depression. In between lunches and lessons, Barbara blogs at www.barbarapostma.com