373 | Help Your Children Be Children, Part 1 (Sean Allen)
Adult life is so hectic, particularly for the homeschooling parent, that we can easily gloss over the unique beauty that is to be found in each season of our child's life. So often we are found urging them into adulthood to make life easier for us, but it often has the opposite effect (and it only serves to discourage them). In this episode I'll discuss how important it is for us as parents to help our children extract all the joy they can from each age while simultaneously helping them reach forward to the beauty of the age to come.
Sean Allen is the founder of The Well Ordered Homeschool, husband to his beautiful bride Caroline and a proud father of eight. He has a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and is passionate about creating materials to assist parents in the incredibly challenging, yet surpassingly beautiful, work of schooling and training their children at home.
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Sean Allen Hello. Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Sean Allen and I am one of the many hosts here on the podcast. Since you're listening to this, I'm guessing you already know that homeschooling is both incredibly challenging and incredibly beautiful. Every week we're here doing a little guidance, some helpful counsel, and a whole lot of encouragement your way as you navigate this busy, yet blessed journey of educating your children at home. Now, even though the show is called Homeschool Solutions, it should come as no surprise to you that we do not have the answer to every homeschool related question. But if you come away with nothing else, our hope is that today's episode will point you to Jesus Christ and that you will seek His counsel as you train your children in the way they should go.
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Well, hello out there to all you homeschooling mothers. How are you doing today? Perhaps also, there are some homeschooling fathers out there listening to this as well. I hope that you all are doing well. I hope that you're enjoying some wonderful warm spring weather like we are. And if you're not, surely it's just right around the corner. It's just such a beautiful, beautiful time of year. I am glad that winter is behind us. Should be mostly behind us. We were having a string of just beautiful, gorgeous days and then the bottom dropped out again. The reason is, for that, is I live in Missouri and sometimes you just do not know from one day to the next what's going to happen with the weather.
We were having seventies and blue skies and bright sunshine, and then all of a sudden we had like some freezing nights and it was just that, you know, that's when the – when they pulled the rug out from under you. That's probably the worst. But now we have nothing to complain about. It's beautiful outside. I hope it's beautiful where you are. Hope that your children are able to get outside and to enjoy the spring weather.
I wanted to hop on here today and to talk about something that I've been thinking about a little bit lately. There's a number of reasons for that. I won't go into it, but I'm going to present this as a two-part series, if you will, just a little short series. In keeping with what I just mentioned about your children going outside and enjoying the weather, I wanted to just give you a reminder. The purpose, or I should say the purpose of these two episodes, is to remind you that you're homeschooling children. And I've really felt quite strongly about this here lately and reaching out and reminding you of this.
I think it's lost on us, oftentimes, we tend to lose sight of this. We tend to forget that we're homeschooling children. I mean, we remember it for all the wrong reasons. Generally speaking, it's very apparent to us that we're homeschooling children when they whine and fuss and backtalk and refuse to do the things that you've asked them. And you're like, Oh, children. But look at—I want you to look at your children in just a little—not a little, but a significantly different light over the course of these two episodes. I want you to remember that they are children. That they are supposed to be children. God made them to be children for a limited period of time. And within that time they are privileged to be able to enjoy life in a very peculiar way. That in many ways we are no longer able to enjoy life. And that's a little sad. It's not as if all the opportunity to enjoy life or to relish into the beauty and the joy of life as a little child is totally gone from us or has escaped us. But being adults we tend to leave all that behind. And that's unfortunate.
But as we leave all of that behind, and there's a necessity to that but also a little bit of sadness, as we leave all that behind. It's easy for us to forget what it was like to be a child. And there are just some things that are—have totally escaped our memories. And I don't think we'll ever reclaim those things. But if we sit down and think about it long enough, we can remember a little bit about what it was like to be young you. When you were perhaps even from your earliest memory, maybe at three or four, you know on up through your teenage years. And there are these indelible impressions that have been made on you that you'll never forget. And everything in between is either foggy or just a vapor. Nevertheless, we should never totally release our grasp on our childhood.
There are a number of reasons for that. But for the purposes of this episode, one very important reason for that is, is that we have been given the opportunity to raise children ourselves. And it is so important for us to remember what our childhood was like or what it was like to be a child so that we cannot prematurely ask them or urge them or force them out of this beautiful stage of life, which is childhood.
And I'll tell you, when you try to look at them and understand them through the lens of a child. Or looking at them as a, perhaps a child would, it does something to you, too. There are benefits there. I'm—that's not what the main focus of this episode I'm actually trying to remind you of this for their sakes. But there is also a benefit that comes to you as well. There is a lightheartedness and just such a, again I don't think there's any better word for it than a joy that can come from raising your children from this perspective. Now, obviously, we don't want children raising children. That's not what I'm suggesting here. But I don't—I really would hate for your children or for my children to miss out on all the wonder and the joy, and the beauty and the wholesomeness, and the purity and the innocence that is contained in childhood. And because we have entered into a stage of life as adults where things are very hectic and very pressing. And there's just this—there's this heavy weight of responsibility on us, seemingly all of the time. It just never lets up.
You know, we're fighting for our lives to be able to find some margin. To find some space in between this responsibility and that. To where we can just breathe. And oftentimes, we will look to our children and we think to ourselves, I wonder if you could help me lighten up a little bit. Lighten the load, I should say. And so and this—there's nothing wrong with this. But sometimes, oftentimes, I feel like we can push too far in this direction. That is, you know what? The dishes are piled up, I need you to do the dishes. And my living room is a mess, and I need you to clean the living room. And the laundry, we're just overrun with dirty laundry, can you do the laundry? And then everything else that goes along with keeping your home, and maintaining your home and your life. And so you try to employ your children to help with that. And they should. They absolutely should. But there comes a point at which it's a road too far in which we are tempted to look at our children as if they are facilitators to the kind of life that we want for ourselves.
And having children initially was such a grand thing. It was such a—something that was just so happy and, you know, the horizon was so bright. Think that we could just cuddle this little baby in our arms and we can call him or her our own. And their flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, blood of our blood. And it's just they're ours, you know, entrusted to us by the hand of God. And there's such an unspeakable beauty that comes with that. But then again, as life creeps in we lose that wonder and we begin to look at them, more and more, as partners in attempting to achieve this life that we want.
Again, the kind of house that we want, the land that we want to live on, and the amount of money that we want to make. And so removing obstacles or barriers from our achievement of that life becomes preeminent. It becomes a priority, more and more, of a priority in our lives. And so we will call upon the assist—the assistance of anyone who is willing to help. And, you know, your children really don't have a choice. Do they? They don't have that much of a choice. And so, please don't misunderstand me, your children need chores. And they need responsibility, and they need to learn to respect your authority. But I don't want you to go so far as to abuse that authority and to manipulate them into achieving, you know, this—your selfish ends. And we're all very selfish, aren't we? So do not ever forget that you're raising, your schooling children. And there are certainly things that you can do to kind of pull back a bit.
And in order to do this, you've got to humble yourself and you've really got to go where they are. You've got to get down on the ground and play cars and trucks. You've got to get out there on the ground and help them decorate their dollhouse. And you've got to help them build their little Lego set. And go outside and fly a kite. And jump on the trampoline, play hide and go seek. Come back inside in the evening, play a board game. No, I'm not saying wall to wall activity here, games and whatnot. But as much as you—as lies within you, I guess I should say, as far as you are capable, you've got to go where they are. And it's not comfortable. Because we rather enjoy being adults. We've become accustomed to being adults. And there's nothing wrong with that. You know, our appetites have changed. They've matured and nothing wrong with that at all.
And as Paul said, you know, once we thought as a child and now we have grown out of that, we've become a man. We've become a woman. And so it's hard for us to understand what it was like to be a boy or to be a girl. We don't really track with that anymore. And it's a nuisance to have to go outside, and to play hide and go seek. It's a nuisance to have to, you know, sit there and give them a simple drawing lesson. Or to sit by their side—and even this really does extend down to homeschooling as well. It's a nuisance to teach them how to read. For some parents, not all parents.
I'm just going to say that probably all of you have an area, or two or three, in which you struggle with. You're just like, Oh my goodness. I don't know if I've got patience for this. I don't know if I have patience to help you—to walk you through the steps of how to do a load of dishes. Or to do a load of laundry, right? I've got to get this done. I've got to move on. I can't stand here and wait for you or even watch you mess this up. It probably would be easier for me just to do it myself. So at some point, we have to go where they are. We have to come down to their level.
And this ought to remind you of someone. Ought to remind you of your Lord and Savior. For that is precisely what he's done for each and every one of us. And you think that was easy for him? If we've had thoughts that, oh, my goodness. This is so inconvenient and this is wasting so much time, and I've got so many other things that it could be doing. And why don't they get this? I mean, it's so obvious how you do this thing. If we've had those thoughts, can you imagine what kind of thoughts that Jesus could have had? I don't believe that he had them, but he could have. A being that was so far superior to what and who we are. It could very easily just had no patience for coming and spending time with us lowly creatures. And yet he did, out of his love for us, and that's just such a great mystery. Such a—it's such an astounding thing to think about. But the point is, if he can do it, we can do it too. We could certainly do it. Because he's higher than—he's much higher in relation to us than we are in relation to our children.
I'm not saying it's easy. Trust me, I know exactly what you've got. Literally, you've got, you know, 25, 30 things that you could be doing. And here's your child asking you to come outside and jump on the trampoline with them. Then you think, and I can't make progress on the trampoline. I can make progress if I jump over here and answer this email or tidy this thing up or work on this little business item, or what have you. I can't make progress on the trampoline. And yet, we have to remember that we haven't been called to solely make progress, so to speak. And really the question arises, what is progress? Like when your family grows strength for strength. When your children are blessed and happy. And when they feel safe, and when you are building trust between you and them. That's progress. There are other forms of progress that you should not neglect. But this progress is amongst the chiefest forms of progress, and it's hard for us to remember that. It really is, because we like things and we like money and we like material progress. But never, never forget that you're raising children.
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I have a few more thoughts about this, but I want to—what I want to do is give you some practical suggestions, but I'll do that in the next episode. Some practical thoughts on how to retain in your heart, in your mind that you're raising children. So don't run roughshod over them through their educational materials, you know, and through the way in which you structure your day. It sometimes seems that we, as adults, are—we're about the business of rushing our children into adulthood as soon as possible. Like if we've got to get you to where we are as quickly as we can. And there's a logical—that makes sense. It's very logical to think that way because if you were more like us, you would be less of a nuisance. You'd know how to fold clothes. You'd actually care about keeping your room clean. You'd understand this notion that the better you perform in school, the more likely that you're going to get a better job. And a better job gets you more money and more money gets you more peace of mind, and so on and so forth. And so you'd be more diligent in your schoolwork. I wouldn't have to harass you all the time. Do your math, your science, you know, all of these things. So there really is deep—I think it's really deep seeded in us somewhere where we're just, could you all just hurry up and grow up?
Not all the time. When it dawns on us that they are growing quite rapidly and it won't be long now that they're going to – their interests are going to stray away from our home. And I don't mean that in a negative sense. That they will look, you know, as they grow older they will look longingly through the windows of your home and they're scanning the horizon and they're trying to discern when and where and what their home will look like one day. And when that dawns on you, we get very sad about that, don't we? And I think that we regret trying to rush them or force them into adulthood. That just as equally—we are just as responsible, equally responsible to prepare them for adulthood as we are to help them retain their childhood. It's a very important thing. Because the Lord looks on them as being so precious and so tender, and He has instilled in them such wonderful beauty that cannot be found anywhere else. And it is beyond comparison. And why would we try to mare that visage in them by cramming too much education down their throats? Cramming too much responsibility down their throats.
Now there's a balance in this. Every time I say this, I'm sure there are parents who are like, well good grief, Sean, what are you talking about? I mean, I can't even get my child to clean their room. I'm not talking about that. Maybe it's the way in which you're presenting it that makes it difficult for them to accept. Maybe it's so businesslike, it's so militaristic, almost the way in which you try to lead your child into the paths of responsibility, that it's repulsive to them. Why is it repulsive to them? Because they're a child. They're not an adult. So when you present them with a task like fold this basket of laundry, I say this a lot in conventions, but you hear one thing and they hear something else. You're hearing, I've folded hundreds and hundreds of baskets of laundry. I know exactly how to do this. I know where every piece of laundry in this basket goes. And I could do this and probably 10 to 15 minutes. It's not going to take—it's easy. And furthermore, I enjoy my clothes folded and put where they belong.
Okay, so you hear all of that. How could they not understand that? You're thinking to yourself, I mean, maybe not audibly thinking to yourself, but somewhere deep down inside you're thinking, how could they not appreciate this to the same degree that I do? And if you appreciate it, you'll do it. Well, they don't appreciate it. They don't understand it. That's not something that they value. Certainly not to the degree that you do. Really it's just a matter of will they do it to please you or not? And there's certainly merit to that. They should do some things like that to please you. But perhaps the way in which you're presenting the task is the thing that is keeping them from wanting to do it at all. Because when you say, fold the baskets of laundry that's what you hear. And this is what they hear, you know what? Folded laundry is really overrated. I think I'd rather go outside and play. That also makes perfect sense, since, folks. It really does. Is it wrong for them to think that? No, it's really not. Their priorities are different. Their value system is different.
Though obviously, this is age appropriate. If we're talking about your you're 16, 17 year old, it's different than your five or six-year-old having to fold a basket of laundry. But I'm talking about younger children here. So preteens, certainly as they grow, they need to also attain a greater appreciation for and also a sense of duty to performing their responsibilities. There's just no doubt about it. But you trying to cram them into adulthood is not helping. It's hurting. So you've got to go where they are. You've got to get down on their level. You've got to help them fold that basket of laundry. And you've got to not—you've got to make an effort not to present it in such a way that it is drudgery.
So when I have actually gotten off of my high horse as adult male and, you know, Lord of my household and father to my children and all rest. I'm sorry, I'm being a little sarcastic here. But when I get off of that high horse and I actually go down to where they are and try to make it enjoyable for them. And explain to them not only how to do something, but why we do this thing. And also fully understanding, or attempting to understand, to accept the fact that I will have to do this many, many times. Just because I've told them this one time, this is how we fold clothes and this is why we fold clothes, they're still, almost certainly, not going to understand. That's why you have to stick with it. You have to stick in there.
It's the same with anything related to homeschooling. It's whether they're learning to read or to do arithmetic or their timetables or whatever it may be, and they're struggling with it and they don't get it. Is there any parent out there listening to me right now who has not had their child ask them why do I need to learn math? What am I—I'm never going to use this. Why are we doing this? You may be even asking yourself and you know, I really don't know. I'm not exactly sure because I don't use it either. But nevertheless, I remember what it was like to be them. And that puts a different perspective on things. Helps you to appreciate just how distasteful some of these responsibilities are to them. And you know what? In many instances, it's actually a positive thing that is distasteful because they're children. It means they're children. So if you can appreciate that, you're going to go about the business of helping them gain an appreciation for these tasks and responsibilities in a different way. And not as an adult who is viewing or treating or behaving themselves towards their children as if they were employees of your home business. Or the business of your—of keeping your home. Or the business of running your school. Let them be children. Let them be children as they do their math. As they fold their laundry. As they clean their room. Help them to reach forward towards adulthood. While simultaneously maintaining a grasp on their childhood.
You can do that. And furthermore, I think that if we made more of an effort to retain a grasp on our childhood, we would find it much easier to help them do the same. So I hope you understand where I'm coming from here. I hope that you sense the balance that I'm trying to encourage you to maintain as you raise your children. As you educate your children in your home. And it's something so much deeper than just make it fun. There's a part of it to that I mean, it's hard for us to make it fun because, you know, adults are just kind of dowdy and kind of—so it just got it down and depressed. We're just again, we're weighted down with other things. And it's hard for us to maintain joy. But there is so much joy. There is. There's so much beauty, I really do believe, and I lose sight of this too.
So please don't think that I'm being overly critical. But I really believe that we are surrounded by more beauty than what we can—even what we could stand. And what we could endure. And if we really had eyes to see the beauty that sort of surrounds us at any given time, I think that we just might literally pass out. And so much of that beauty is caught up in your children. And in the fact that you have children. The fact that you're a mother, that you're a father. That you have one, that you have two, that you have ten children that God gave you. That you adopted three. That you adopted six. What have you? There's enough beauty right there.
There's such an intense beauty and joy that could be extracted from just that right there, that I really do think it's more than what we could stand. But we don't—our eyes become dim. We dimly perceive that. I'd say most of the time it just glazed over with this dull comprehension of who we are and who they are and what we both represent and the Lord wants us to see clearly. He wants those scales to fall off of our eyes. And we need to turn to Him to ask Him to help us to see more clearly and to not ignore the beauty that He has. That He has placed all around us. And to not wallow in all the negativity. There's more than enough negativity and despair in the world events that are surrounding us right now. You don't need to go and create more negativity in your home. Now, I'm not trying to negate the fact that there may be negative situations in your home or things that need to change. That's almost certainly true of all of our homes, and we're working on it, aren't we?
But as we work on it, don't look to your children as if they were equal partners in conducting that work. They're not. They don't belong right by your side as you attempt to tackle those adult-level mature challenges that you're facing. Can they assist in some way? And I mean, unbeknownst to them, can they assist? Yes, absolutely. So when they are more responsible and more diligent with their schoolwork and with their chores and whatnot, that's a help to you. It really is. And it helps to lighten the load, but they don't have to necessarily know it. They don't have to necessarily know that effectively what they're doing is they're trying to help you be, you know, the adult that you feel that you're called to be.
Like, if you look at it from another angle, you know, them growing in their diligence and in their responsibilities and grow and—their growing sense of responsibility. Is really more for them than it should be for you. As much as great of a help as it is to you. But let's be honest, you'd probably be further along in the realization of your hopes and dreams if, I mean I'm talking about those material hopes and dreams that we all have in that dark corner of our heart. Or maybe not so dark but nevertheless, that natural man corner. You know, we want a bigger house and a nicer car and like some more land and more things and all those sorts of things. You know that—when we look at it from that perspective, they really shouldn't be necessarily helping us with that, so much. You'd be further along without them. Because you'd have less laundry. You'd have less mess in your home. You'd have less destruction to your property. You'd have less payout to have to clothe and to feed them, and to engage them in various events and activities. You wouldn't have to come alongside them and teach them how to fold laundry, to do dishes. Or to teach them how to read or anything of that sort. You'd be further along.
So really, when you look at it from that perspective, it's not about you. It's about them. Helping them to gain a deeper appreciation for the responsibilities that they themselves will one day have. They're not all bad. Not—I don't want to suggest that they're all bad, but it's just too easy for us to allow those responsibilities to be at the forefront of our lives and then trying to gather unto ourselves as much help as possible. In either removing them, removing the barriers, or removing the barriers to the achievement of those ends.
So that's why we look at our children like, hmm, yes, I could use your help. But when it's about you, you're rushing them headlong to an adulthood that they're not yet prepared for. And that they shouldn't have to enter just yet. So I suppose what I'm saying is they can be children and be responsible at the same time. It is possible. They don't have to be just like you just yet. And as you do this, when you are right there by their side when they're four. And you're right there by their side when they're eight. And you're right there when they're ten, and when they're 13. When they're 16 and so on. There is a distinct and a unique beauty that emanates from each of those seasons. That would have been left undiscovered if you had not humbled yourself and gone where they are.
So I'm urging you to do that. I'm urging you to just stop and think for a little bit. If you're in the midst of your day and you're listening to this and it's real hectic and you just can't see it just yet, just wait until the end of the day and when everybody's off to bed and it's quiet and you've had a little time to decompress. And I want you to think about it. Think about your children. Imagine what it's like to be them. Think about your own childhood. And then start to think about ways in which you can help them to preserve the glory of that particular age that they are, while simultaneously assisting them in growing into the next age. It is possible. It is very possible. And it's so wonderful. And again, I think it really has just a wonderful effect on you and I. Lifts our hearts. It buoys our spirits.
Children are such a delight. They are a huge amount of work and they do great on our sensibilities at times. And it's just so, it's so difficult. But when you really, really look and you ask the Lord and he helps you to see, there really is just more there than what we can bear. It's so wonderful. I think you know all this and I'm just trying to remind you, and that's what I'm here for is just to give you a reminder. And ask you to think on these things for the sake of your children and for the sake of the upcoming generation. For they will have time enough to have to engage and to grapple with the stresses and the strains of this present world. And God forbid, for us to have a—catch a glimpse of what it will be like in the future world, but there will be time for that. But for now, help them be children while also preparing them for the days ahead.
So that's just all the thoughts that I had for you today. The next time that I have an episode that airs, hopefully, it will be the second part of this. And I just try to give you some practical suggestions because I know this is more the, you know, this is more the thinking behind it. You've got to kind of wrap your mind around it first. And you've got to have a change of heart before you can employ the solution. So I look forward to meeting with you again. And again, I pray that the Lord will bless you for the rest of this day. Thank you for joining us. Goodbye for now.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve health care you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. That's GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @homeschooling.mom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the Homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topic, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the US. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I'll be there. I hope to see you there too.