HS #218 — Connie Albers -- Homeschooling Teens
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Today we are talking about how parents can create a rich relationship with their children throughout their parenting/homeschool journey. Children are a masterpiece and parents hold the brushes. God is the architect who knows the plans he has for each of his children. Too often parents give up or give in… not realizing that we are the primary influence in our children's lives.
Connie Albers is an author, speaker, and podcaster, who has spent much of her adult life as a homeschool mom to five, homeschool spokesperson, and mompreneur with a passion for strengthening parents through her speaking and various leadership roles. More recently, Connie entered the publishing world with her new #1 ranked Amazon Hot New Release book Parenting beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy,which outlines positive approaches to parenting today’s teenagers.
Connie and her husband, Tom, have been married 35 years and have homeschooled their five children, all of whom continued their studies and graduated from the University of Central Florida. Connie now works to equip women in their calling through her blog ConnieAlbers.com and Equipped To Be ministry. The Albers family lives in Winter Garden, Florida.
- Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy by Connie Albers
- Triggers by Wendy Speake and Amber Lia
- Paint a picture of possibilities of what your family can look like in 5 years, 10 years, 15 years…
- The only way we’re not the main influence is if we abdicate that role.
- Each child has three specific needs: they need to be heard, affirmed, and understood.
- When they don’t feel heard and understood then they push back against us.
- Let’s help our children strengthen their strengths while helping them challenge their weakness.
- Master the art of the pivot. As your teen changes you need to adjust.
- Become a student of your child.
- Be your child’s greatest cheerleader.
CONNECT WITH CONNIE:
HS EP Connie Albers
Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions podcast, brought to you by Sonlight Curriculum, and homeschooling.mom. I'm your host, Wendy Speake. Here on the show every week, you'll get to listen in on some great conversations with wonderful guests, all designed to equip us as homeschooling moms. And then once a month, we'll be opening up the Bible together, applying God's Word to our long, blessed, but often challenging days. It is my hope that as we gather together in this space, we will encourage one another with some practical, Biblical solutions. I'm so glad you're here. Before we start the show, I'd like to thank our sponsor, Sonlight Curriculum. Complete homeschool curriculum you're guaranteed to love. And now, enjoy the show.
Well, today, we are talking with my friend, Connie Albers. She is the author of the book Parenting Beyond the Rules: Raising Teens with Confidence and Joy, and who doesn't want more of that? Whether your kids are teens, preteens, or you're doing the good work of laying a firm foundation today, this compilation is for you. And honestly, it's for me too.
When I met Connie at the Great Homeschool Convention four years ago, she didn't have a book to sell, she wasn't selling curriculum. She didn't have any products. She was simply there to encourage the next generation of homeschool families. And I think she even had a laugh for, once I introduce her, I think she even had like a banner that said Ask me a question, let me encourage you. She's the one that I want pouring into my life. She's up there with Sally Clarkson and September McCarthy as the mentors that I choose in this season of my life.
So today, we are talking with Connie about how we can create a rich relationship with our children throughout the years. And specifically, as we homeschool kiddos. Connie loves to encourage moms to believe that their children are a masterpiece. She loves to encourage us that we hold the brushes, and we'll talk more about that. Actually, in episode number 193, we touched on this wonderful Scripture that I'm sure that Connie's gonna dive into today, Ephesians 2 verse 10, says "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." God is the architect, Connie says, who knows the plans that He has for each of His children. But how kind of Him to let us be part of that wonderful process, raising them up, getting them ready, and pointing them in the direction of some of those good works. What a privilege it is. But too often, parents give up, or they give in, not realizing that we are the primary influence in our children's lives. And that's the introductions for today's podcast conversation, so let's welcome Connie to the show. Hey there, friend.
Hey, Wendy, it's so good to be with you. Thanks for having me on the podcast today.
Yeah, it's fun. So often, at the Great Homeschool Conventions, you're just like right down the row from me, so we get to have conversations in person. But how fun ?? So, I said in the introduction that I remember that first year. You didn't have anything on a table, you weren't selling anything, but I think maybe you were handing out something. It says, just ask me a question, let me... how can I encourage you.
You're so right. People would often walk by my booth with that kind of hesitant look of, what are you peddling. And I would say, here, here's an encouragement card, and that's what I would give away for them to put in their school room or in their car or in their bathroom. Wherever that specific place that mom's run to. And you know, they're worn out or stressed out, or they wanna throw in the towel. And so it was just a simple encouragement card that reminded moms that building a family is really your life's greatest work. We can do a lot of things over the course of our lives, but when we focus on building our family, everything else pales in comparison to that. And so that's why I would always hand out those encouragement cards, and of course, now, I do have the book, but I still hand out encouragement cards. Because I think we all need a shot in the arm. They were things I wish somebody would have handed me back when my children were in the teen years.
Yeah, and speaking of your children, why don't you start us off by just telling us a little bit about yourself, your family, how old are your kids these days, what journey did you guys have together when they were younger. You know... you tell us about it.
Well, I'm a mother of five children. We had five children in seven years so, there were a lot of years where I had five teenagers in the house, and... or tweens and teens. And, you know, they're all, like I said, five in seven years, it was... we started off and it was just like, like a hamster on a wheel, just kind of running and running and running. And we started homeschooling from day one, with the mindset of, I'll do it for this year and then we'll try it another year if it works. And it worked, and then I said I'll do it a few more years. And, but they're going in school when it comes to Middle School because I don't think I can do Middle School.
And then it was like, oh wow, well Middle School are those murky, mysterious, marvelous, hormonal years. Okay, I'll homeschool Middle School, but man, they're going in for high school cause I don't remember chemistry or physics or calculus, or even algebra for that matter. So, we continued... it got to be high school time, and we asked each kid if they wanted to go into the school system or, you know, if they wanted to homeschool. And they wanted to stay home and continue what we were doing, so we turned the tassel of the very last child after a 21-year homeschooling journey.
And like you said, I stayed in the homeschool movement because I believed in, I believe in what it does for the family, the unity, the strengthening, the bonds, the trust, the being able to impart your values and beliefs, and helping your children discover who they... who God made them to be, and the calling that He has on for their lives. So it's been like 28, 29 years now since I have been in the homeschooling movement. And you know God hasn't.. often, I've said, God is it time for me to go away. And He'll just constantly remind me, no I want you to stay there, pouring into other homeschool parents and parents in general. So that, like you said earlier, they don't, it's always too soon to quit.
But it can be really difficult, and so I just kinda wanna lock arms with other moms and help them navigate some of the hard seasons of parenting children. Attitude and hormones, and you're just, you know, them wanting to become adults, and us trying to figure out, how do we let... give more freedom and more responsibility and when do we pull back in when they aren't accepting the responsibility that we have allowed them to have. How do we navigate that? Because it at the center of it all, Wendy, I want parents to focus on their relationship. I've seen so many families torn apart at the hand of unbending rules. And that's why the book is parenting beyond the rules. We're great with rules. But what do we do when they stop working because our kids are trying to become who God made them to be?
Yes. You know, the timing of this conversation, for me personally, is just perfect. While the podcast will air for, I don't know, a couple months from now, the day that we're recording it is my son's, my first-born's, 16th birthday. There's something about 16 that's just a right of passage, and I know we associate it with the getting his license and everything. But, my son's signifies so much more than just the ability to drive a car without your parents in the car. It's all those things that, when I had them, that when they were so little, the goal was that they were going to grow up. I mean, the goal wasn't, let's have children and they'll remain children. The goal was, let's have the children and let's train them up in the way they should go. And so, 16 is just such a celebration because I feel like now's one of those first steps of being able to actually send them out. I mean, I know they're still in my home. We still have years before he leaves, but it just feels like a rite of passage today. So, of all the years that you homeschooled, all of the years that you mothered, you really loved these teenage years. So, you loved them, and what exactly led you to write the book on this season of life? This season of parenting?
That's a great question. I was nearing completion of my homeschooling journey. My youngest was about to turn 18, and I knew the dynamics of our family were about to change. And Tom and I had been hosting weekly Bible studies in our house all throughout the kid's high school and college. Now, that actually incorporated middle school cause obviously, when the older kids were in high school, my younger ones were in middle school, so it was kind of like the middle school through college range. And these kids would just show up at the house, you know, my kid's friends, and we would go through a book of the Bible, and we started with Revelation. Because everybody wants to know about Revelation. And the kids were just fascinated by it. They kind of came in thinking, oh this is a good story. But as we took them verse by verse, because we always taught expository with the kids. You know there's so much topical out there. But we wanted these young people to know the totality of what God has to say. Not just, you know, pick pieces of it to fit a narrative. And what we started finding, Wendy, is these kids would come in and out. Sometimes it would be four. A semester, or a year, or a few years. Some ran the whole gamut.
And I started listening to what these kids were saying, what they wished they could tell their parents that they couldn't... they would love to talk about struggles that they were having, struggles with in school that they were having. Cause these kids were, you know, they weren't all homeschooled. They were some private, some public, some homeschool. And I, for some reason, back in those days, I would still take notes. I would write down questions they would ask, or conversations we would have. You know, struggles with pornography, struggles with eating disorders, struggles with cutting. And these were Christian kids, from good families. A lot... most of them, some of them weren't. Some of them were new believers. And I wrote all this down and as my youngest son, Johnathan, was nearing completion, I thought, God, what's my next assignment? I was nearing the homeschool completion, then God just whispered, I want you to write a book, and I'm like... I laughed! Because that wasn't ever something I inspired to do.
And, I said, well you know Lord, if you want me to write this book, you're gonna absolutely have to make it happen, because I don't know this process. And He did. And I said, what do you want me to write about. And He says the teen years. And partly, Wendy, because, that's the years, most parents are trying to survive. And my message is no, this is the season to thrive. This is like, the best season, because you've done all of the hard work leading up to this, and now you get the opportunity to help them launch out into the world, you know. With their unique gifts, strengths, and talents, and you get to help get a front-row seat to that. So, when you introduced us the painting the picture, the masterpiece, you're putting on the final touches. And it is, it's a beautiful picture, and I knew it was one that my message was a bit different because I wasn't talking about six simple strategies or four easy principles. There's nothing easy about it. But it is a beautiful time and season of life, because we know, as you just said Wendy, your son is 16. You can see 16, 18, that's a hundred and four weeks. And he's, we're gonna be celebrating his 18th birthday.
And then the dynamics of our relationship will change once again. And so that's kind of why I wrote the book. And I think that's why it's being received so well is, we all see an end-mark and we wonder, okay, I've only got so many years that I can cram "x, y, and z" into my child, and how are we doing? And those were just important to me. I want families to be strong in their relationships. And as I write about in the book, Wendy, I wanted my kids to call me and say, hey mom, what time is dinner on Thanksgiving? Or when are we celebrating Christmas as they get married? I have to work it out with the inlaws. I wanted that instead of me saying, you are coming home for Thanksgiving, right? You will be here for Christmas, right? And that was the mindset that I had.
That's beautiful. And yes, you know, so that's interesting you said that. Because so often I think, and I know that you have this as the, at the forefront of your thoughts as well, I wanna prepare my children to go out and live a life boldly and well, for Christ, and there, the benefit is theirs. But I love that you said you want them to turn around and wanna come home too. The benefit of a good relationship and I mean, even think of this until you said that, the benefit of a good relationship isn't just a strong foundation for them, but it's the blessing an ongoing friendship that we get to have with them. So, it's our benefit as well, that makes me wanna tear up a little bit, because, my goodness, I like this kid so much. You know, I want them to wanna come home, absolutely.
Yeah, without the guilt trips, you know? We can be masters at you know guilting our kids and you know, we know what buttons to push. And I'm just a firm believer that God instituted the family and your children... I do talk about this, cause so often when I talk and I give interviews or speak about this people will say, So did your kids ever read that, or Did you ever have trouble with your children, and I just laugh. Like, yes, they're human, so. They're trying to become who they want to be. Some children were easier for me to raise than others, and you know, some of them will have a little competition with who was harder than the others. But, if we paint a picture of possibilities, of what our family could look like in five years, ten years, fifteen years. That doesn't mean we're raising mini-me's. It means that we're building something that the family unit, that will do life together, when a crisis comes, and where deaths happen.
Like in my family, recently, my family rallied together. They were lifting each other up. We were praying for one another. They would call and check in on each other. That was the picture I had in my mind. Did they do it the way I would do it? No. But they did it in a way that expressed who they were. And it was different for all of them. And so, you know, I think it's just a beautiful thing because successful parenting is just, it's not about what other people think of you, or you know, the picture's up on our social media. You know, successful parenting is, you know, what's that relationship like between you and your child. And the reason I say this, Wendy, is because not every child is going to just kinda ease into adult life, or even ease into or have that strong faith that we have been pouring into them. Sometimes they hit the teen years and they're not quite sure what they believe. Or they hit college and they're shaken to their core, especially, you know, depending on the college they go to.
But this is what I've learned. If you have that relationship, then you have influence. You've got their heart. When you have their heart you can speak truths into them and they will come when they stumble or they make poor decisions. They can come to you without that fear of disapproval or unacceptance or conditional love. they can come to you and say, you know, hey I'm struggling with this. Or, you know I'm really wrestling with that, I don't understand, you know, how God is letting this happen in my life, or that happen in my life. And that's why I focus on the relationship. We're told in society that, ah, the teen years, you know, this is all about their friends and about their peers and about, you know, them finding their own way. And I say that's not true. That's not true. Parents are the primary influence. Especially during the teen years. And the only way that we're not is if we have decayed that. And you mention that in your intro. You know, we can just let 'em go and say, oh, I hope they figure it out. Or we can walk alongside them, you know, as some of our children may make decisions we wouldn't want them to make. So, does that make sense, Wendy?
Yes, absolutely. I'd love to hear just some practical advice for us. Cause we all wanna strengthen our relationship, right? Yeah, form a relationship. But the reality of it, for me, personally, is in the busyness of all the things, and then all of the conflicts between siblings, and I'm working through this and I'm doing that. So they've got all these things. Okay, not so many rules or we'll talk more about the beyond the rules thing later, but, right now we're just in the relationship and I think that that's what we even the... like write the alliteration that you play with is the rules versus relationship piece. So, how can we be strengthening our relationships? And I know that when we homeschool, we have more time with them. So that's foundational. We get to focus on the relationship that so often we fill all that space up with so much to do, we need lots of obedience, we need lots of push, we need to go, go, go, to get it all done. And then we actually, we lose the benefits of relationships on homeschooling days because we're pushing so hard. So I mean, this isn't a black or white, hey homeschool and then you can focus on the relationship. No, you actually need to focus on the relationships.
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So give us some practical help here. What does it look like? What do we do? Take it away.
Okay, well I just first wanna say, Wendy, that you do a beautiful job when you're talking to your audience about reminding them for the need for margin in their life. Reminding parents that they have got to first spend time with the Lord. We can't...God is the architect. He has formed and fashioned that child. He has His purpose and an assignment for that child. And we are the, you know, the hands and feet of Jesus. We're the ones that He has said, here, the perfect mom and dad. You're gonna raise this little human. And you're gonna raise him to my glory. And they're like, well I don't know how to do that. Well, when we acknowledge that He is the architect, the Lord is the One that has the blueprint. So when we think in the terms of a masterpiece, He knows what that masterpiece is supposed to look like.
So for you and I, we have to be constantly consulting the Lord. He knows what's going on in their heart when we don't. And there are three specific things, Wendy, every child, no matter who, the human need is to be heard, and understood, and affirmed. So it's, they've got to be heard. And how do we do that? We've gotta listen. We have to listen to not just the words that they say, but we have to listen to the hidden, the silent language. The body language. We often see the eye roll, or the crossed arms or, we hear the, I heard you Mom or You've already told me that. And you and I wanna reply with, well if I already told you that, then why aren't you doing it?
And I, it just reminds me of an example with my one son. I told him to clean his room. And I thought that was pretty clear, you know? He's lived with me, he knows what my definition of "clean" is. And I came back a few hours later, and I couldn't tell a difference. I said, hey, I asked you to clean your room. And your room's not clean. And he's like, Mom I did clean my room. And I'm looking around and I'm going, uh, okay well clearly we have a disconnect. And so, I had to say, tell me what you did, and I listened to him, and I said, alright, so for that child, I had to listen to and understand who he is as a person. And this is a little off of listing, but who he is as a person, and what he hears. Because everybody hears through their own unique grid or filter system, you know?
You and I, our husband, what we say to our husbands. You know it might not...what they hear might not necessarily be, you know, what we said. Because they're gonna hear it through a different filtration system. Our kids are also. And as a mom and a dad, we have to listen to the words our children are saying. We have to affirm to them that we did hear what they're saying. In his situation, he was letting me know that he did do what he thought I did, and so that I needed to follow that back up with a more clear set of instructions for that particular child. So, when we focus on listening, we're validating who they are as a person. And when they feel heard and understood, they're less likely to push back against us. It's oftentimes when we overreact or we fail to listen before we bark orders, or we give instructions that we can come into friction and conflict within our relationship.
So, listening is first, to the words they say and the body language they communicate. That tells us a lot about what's going on in them. The second is to monitor our own mouth. Let the words that come out of your mouth land into a tender place of their heart. And parents might be going, okay, so how do I do that?
Well, I have an artistic daughter, and I know she's very sensory, she's very feeling-based. I had to be careful with the words that I said, that I didn't communicate to her that she wasn't measuring up. When I talked to them, I always try to speak in a way that they're going to hear what I'm saying. I also have a son that's a very logical, sequential... he just wants a bullet list and he's gonna get it done. She doesn't. She has to taste, feel, experience, talk about it, process it, the whole nine yards. So when we focus on speaking words in a way that fall into a tender place of their heart, which kind of is like your Triggers book. You talk about the triggers and various things like that. We're being... we're paying attention. We're being cognizant of the words we say and how our child receives what we're saying. Your listeners may be thinking, but Connie that takes so much time and effort. You're exactly right. It does take a little more time and it does take more effort. But I will tell you this. Eighteen years old comes really quick. And when that happens, you're the nature and the dynamic of your relationship all dramatically changes. And so, while you are working a little extra, you know you're paying attention, you're being intentional with your words, know that that season isn't going to last. You know, until they're thirty years old. It's not gonna happen. It gives you a greater perspective and so...
And I do wanna come back to the third thing, but one of the things about me even though I've written, you know, a handful of parenting books, is that I still don't consider myself an authority on the topic, because I'm still working out practicing what I preach. And I think that that's the truth of our spiritual lives too. That we're always saying, okay, if God's Word is true then how do I behave. I might know it to be true, and how did I do today that's part of the sanctification process, right? Spiritual... and so I think of that in our parenting.
So, I love coming back to, no matter how old your children are, going through that and pinpointing each child's style of, and needs to be heard, how do they feel heard? And I'm always looking, and some of it's just my personality, I always feel like I'm doing something wrong. It's just a personality trait, maybe a flaw of mine, and so when I can find something, I feel like... I've got something to work on. And it may be goofy, but I always wanna be able to pinpoint what I might be doing wrong that I could do better, and then make a plan to do it better. And in the last few days, I've been having conflict. Actually with my youngest. My youngest, and I love the whole birth order conversation, but my youngest actually thinks he's the firstborn. And he always has. He's very strong and he would like to be actually the boss of the house. And he doesn't listen well. And so I've found myself saying to him, no, this is not your turn to talk. You are only to listen to me. This is not a dialogue. It is a monologue. Please listen. And while I think that there's truth there, he needs to be able to do that, because he pushes so hard, my tendency is to just shut him down, give him his task, and send him on his way.
But what I'm hearing from you is, it might be more work, Wendy... It might be time to say that. But the emphasis, the focus, must be on the dialogue. That this is a safe place to have a dialogue. So maybe it's just tweaking, you know, what I call parenting scripts... what is my script going to be when he's pushing and not listening? Cause I don't wanna tell him, I won't listen to you, you listen to me, and he says, I won't listen to you. I mean that just becomes a fight, right? So,
... a better script that empowers him to know I want to hear what you have to say. Now, in this moment, I need you to do this thing, but we can absolutely have a dialogue about this. So I'm already looking for ways that I can start applying, how do they need to be heard? How can I communicate, I'm hearing you? How can I affirm it? And then, and so go on into the being understood part, because I think that they just roll right into each other, right? The being heard, being affirmed and feeling...
You know, they do. I love what you just said because when I heard you describe your youngest son, do you know what I heard you say? I heard you say, you have a leader in the making. And so...
I know. The biggest strength, their biggest difficulties, I mean, it's... we are going to struggle the most probably in setting them up for success in their greatest strengths.
Yeah. I mean, and we spoke cause, Wendy, and that's why people said, Connie, why didn't you write this book years ago? I said because I was actually... God didn't tell me to do it. Yeah. I was one He wanted me to do after instead of in the midst of, especially in this particular season. But you know, when we stop, I heard Mama's talk about, you know, my child, he's such a manipulator. Or, he just won't give in. And I'm thinking, maybe he has the amazing gift and skill of persuasion. He has the ability to move and persuade. Instead of looking at it as manipulate, or in your son's case, he has this drive that's hard-wired in him to be a leader, and what you're trying to do is help him learn leaders also follow. And for him to learn that it is okay, you acknowledge that you know, and for all of us, I have a few like that as well, where it was like, who's the parent here. And they would undoubtedly say, I am, of course! And I would say no, you're not.
But when we view it through how God has wired them, which is the third point, understand and become a student of your child. And not just their weaknesses, because, I don't know Wendy, about you, but you've made a comment and I caught it really quickly. And that was maybe it's just a personality thing, of me, you know, I always see it this way. Well, our children have that same thing. If I were to ask you, Wendy, you know, what is your greatest weakness? You could probably rattle off all five, you know, like your top five weaknesses that you're constantly trying to work on. And if I were to say to you, Wendy, what are your top strengths? You may or may not be able to blurt those out quite as quickly. Because as a society, what are we always trying to do? Fix the problem.
So what if we started focusing on strengthening the strengths while helping our children manage their weaknesses? What a different conversation we would have with that child if everything isn't always about, you know, you have got to not talk so much. You've got to be quiet. You talk too much. And we start saying, you know what, this is a great time for us to chat. Come on, let's go talk. Let's take a walk. And then, when they have felt ‘heard’, and we turn to them later and say, right now, I just need you to listen. I heard what you said, and I understand it, but right now I need you to do this, okay? And then we'll talk about it again later.
Did you notice what I just said? I had them nodding in agreement. You know, when you phrase it certain ways, like, you know, we're gonna do this. We're going to do this, and then we're gonna do that. Is that okay? I have found more often than not when you phrase in that, is that okay? Because I'm giving you what you want, we're going what I need us to do. And then we're gonna circle back around and we're gonna be in agreement together because what are we doing? We're building a family. We're building a relationship. Everybody is seen, everybody is heard, and we really work to understand. That doesn't mean we're wishy-washy or our kids run the show. It just means we're validating them as a person with unique gifts, strengths, and talents. And we want them to know that we are their biggest cheerleader. Kids are talking. Look at their social media. Look at their minutes on their cell phones. Or, you know, conversations they have with friends, you know, at church or something. They're talking to somebody and I wanna say, mom and dad, let it be you. Make it you. And it can be you.
Yeah, I'm not asking a question, ‘is that okay?’ I mean just the respect that that phrase offers. I'm not just here as an authoritarian bossing you around. I'm affirming that I heard, I'm asking you, is what I'm saying now okay with you? Can we come up with a plan that works? ... really, it really is a respectful.. it builds dignity, and because I have three sons, I'm often thinking about... and I know that our young women need this experience as well, but I'm often looking at my... the way that I speak to my sons, and say, am I speaking to them the way that they should be spoken to as a man? Because ....
I wanna catch a vision of how they should be spoken to. And I mean, of course, this is true with our daughters. Am I treating them, am I showing them respect? Am I speaking to them in a way that a woman should be spoken to? Because we're training them. It's not just all of a sudden, oh, and now you're eighteen, so now I'm going to respect you. No, from the time they're very young, we're so respectful. And there have been time's my husband has heard me speak, and he circled back with me and said, you know when you say this phrase, and you say it quite a bit Wendy, it sounds condescending. It doesn't sound thoughtful. And that's hard to hear, but I'm very grateful that I have a husband that has told me that in love. Because I don't want to speak to them in a disrespectful way. I do wanna learn how to respect my children and I think that absolutely that builds that fosters the relationship that we're after, right?
Absolutely. You know, men, their number one need, you know, is to feel respected. Again, heard and affirmed, and our nature, with our sons, like I'm like you, I have three sons. They're all older now. And two are married, and one is single. He's in a relationship, but you know, our role changes from Mommy... and you've probably seen that with your oldest... from Mommy to Mom. They always need a Mom, but they don't need Mommy. And that's hard for us. I shed many many a tear when I realized they didn't need me like that anymore. They were becoming men, and I was going to assume a very different role.
And you know, I read a poem, usually, when I speak. And I talk about that change and transition, and I often follow up with, you know there comes a point where we don't hear their hidden secrets. We don't hear their bedtime prayers. We don't know what they're greatest struggles are. And I talk about my oldest, who's been married now for seven years, and I say, you know, it would be kinda strange if I sat on his bed and wanted to scratch his back or pray with him. His wife might look at me funny. And, you know, we're constantly, as I write in a book, as our child changes us, our teen changes. We have to adjust. And so often, as moms, you know we've been fixing boo-boos and mending hearts and hugging and kissing away, and feeding these children. And it is not an easy process for that letting go, ever so slightly. It is not easy to do. I... for me, it wasn't. Maybe for some, it is, but for me, it was like, how do I have that close relationship. And how do I still know that I matter and you wanna call me and just say, hey mom, let's go to lunch? How do I do that and not be this, you know, opinionated mother who's always trying to bail you out or fix your problems? How do I just say, gee, I'll be praying for you, I know that's gotta be hard.
But that does happen and it's the way God intended it to be. But, I do think it's harder for moms of boys in that transition period than it is moms of daughters. In my case, you know, one daughter is not married and one is married. And, you know, I have this different relationship with them than I had my boys. I have to be careful with my married boys that I'm not interjecting my Mama advice into their lives. Because they're creating and forming their own new family with their own traditions and values and they're not doing everything exactly the way they were raised.
But I see more often than not, they end up coming back to those core values that we instilled in them over the years. And that happens, that really happens, in the teen years. As we, I call it mastering the art of the pivot, which is where you are right now with your oldest. He's changing, he's pivoting, and you're like, where can we adjust, where can we let up, where can we give more freedom, where can we not give more freedom in the areas of safety for your child, driving, things like that. You know, there are certain rules that ... that's not open for debate. You know, curfew's curfew, especially at certain ages, and it changes as they grow. But, becoming a student of your child is really what I focus a lot on. Because our parenting style has to adjust.
And so often, parents are never told that's okay. That's okay. You know, you're a responsible child, who is compliant and you know if you tell them to do his schoolwork, or you know you tell him to be home at a certain time, he's either gonna call you, or he's gonna get it done. He's just a very responsible child. So, you're able to give more freedom and move your parenting from that authoritative type of parent to a more of a permissive child. Hey, until you show me that I can't trust you, I'm trusting you. But you have other kids that, all your rules are just a mere suggestion. And so, you have to not... you can't give that child the same freedom, the same responsibility, because they haven't learned how to manage that well yet.
Right. You know, we have said in our family, we go... my husband and I go see a family counselor, oh, maybe anywhere between one and three times a year. Just as we have some questions. We wanna make sure that the way we're speaking is again, respectful and yet we're calling them up into our value system, and we're coming up with creative consequences. We just check in and sit down for an hour and talk through things. And one of the things that (Dr. Ferrera is his name) often encourages us to do, is do exactly what you're talking about. Which is, study the child, figure out where they are in their own development. Where are they in their ability to have responsibility, in their ability to have independence. In their ability to... what are they showing us? Can they handle those independent times? Can they be trusted to take the car keys and go somewhere? Can they be trusted to be dropped off at a movie theatre with a friend? And some kids will be ready for that at 12, some at 14, some at 18. You know?
And... but instead of having a hard and fast rule, have a relationship with your kids where you know what they can handle. And when they show that, you didn't make a great choice there. Let's bring the reigns in a little bit. But you can absolutely earn those privileges back. Just show us that you can handle them. And so we try to do that with the boys and just recently, remember, I told you, my youngest thinks that he's the oldest. ... the other day... mom, you know how you say that we can show you when we're ready for independence by how we behave? I really think that I have shown you better than my older brothers have. That I could be dropped off at the mall with some of my friends. And I said... I think that you're behavior has shown me that you could handle that. But our culture has shown me that I don't want them to have that much sway over you. So you are trustworthy, you're absolutely right. But I'm not gonna make that choice for you for a couple of more years. So, thank you, that was a really great way to tell me what you think at the end.
But, it's just fun hearing you talk because sometimes as you're sharing I'm like, hmm, I could do better at that. Sometimes, I hear you sharing, Connie, and I'm thinking, oh, I said a good thing there! Yes! That was a great response! So, I'd love you to touch, before we wrap this up... your book is about parenting beyond the rules. You, you're already showing us how to do that. Is there anything else that you would like to say about Parenting Beyond the Rules? What this looks like?
I think I would just like to close in saying, we've got to starve the fear. You know the fear that our children are going to rebel, the fear that our children are going to reject us or the Lord, and we have to put, we have to parent from a place of knowing that God has given these children to teach and train. They may or may not follow everything that we say. But that He has still asked us to teach and train these children for His glory. And that they're not gonna be mini-us's.
The other thing I would say is to paint a picture of possibilities. Constantly be retelling your child what the next season, you know what the next season of their life might look like. You know, temptations that they might face, problems that they might encounter with peers or in school or opportunities before them that maybe they haven't seen because you've had them studying them. And you can see, maybe one is very gifted in science or math or music or art or language, writing, whatever it is. And then just start giving them ideas and those little seeds, those little nuggets, become something that they can chew on when they're daydreaming one day. Or processing, you know, the thoughts go across their own mind. it's not that you're telling them what you want them to be, you're just showing them the possibilities of what is before them, with who and how God has made them. And that is why, throughout the book, I talk about painting pictures of possibilities. I always told the kids, kind of like what we wanted our family to look like. We wanted our family to be close. We wanted them to come hang out, like this week, you know, several of the kids just showed up at the house, and we played an online jackbox tv or something and had a ball. And I have very competitive kids, and I always lose. I'm okay with that because they're still here playing, right?
And I love that. I love that you can even speak the picture out there like, oh, you guys, when you're older, what do you think our Christmas's are gonna look like? What do you think our Thanksgivings are gonna look like? So there's painting pictures of possibilities in those areas. ... that are musicians. What could this look like? Cause I have kids that are builders. What might this be? And we do have like, I call it vision casting. And it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun to do that. And then what a joy to see that picture come to life.
But just remember, you know, throughout the book that's really what I really focus on, are strategies and things that mom and dad can do to help get to know the child they have, not the one they wished they had. I mean, we all would love to have some of the perfect children that we think our children, our friend's children have, or the ones we see online. But you know, God gave us the children that He gave us. They're who He wanted, you know, who He wanted us to raise. And they are a masterpiece. And I just want moms and dads to know, be your child's greatest cheerleader.
And I have often told my kids, I am your greatest cheerleader, and I want them to know it. And they'll tell you, their mom and dad are their greatest cheerleaders. And they're also the people who will stand by them when life deals them a few blows. And that does happen, unfortunately. We went around, and I'll close on this, we went around at Thanksgiving, and you know, we're always wondering, did I do enough? Am I doing it right? Will I ruin them? Are they gonna hate me? Are they gonna reject everything we've taught them? We went around Thanksgiving this year, and we had a very difficult year. Highs and lows. But, I just wanted, and all the kids, you know, again, ??? sets in. Believe it or not.
This is what I want parents to know. Fear of missing out. When you are focused on those relationships, and they know that you're thinking about, you're wanting to, you know, celebrate life together. When you call, you know, hey we're having dinner, or such and such, they will all, you know, they, if they live in town, mine will rearrange their schedules, cause they don't wanna miss out on, you know, whatever it is, whatever it is we happen to be doing.
But, so I went around, and I said, hey, you know, it's been a rough year for many of us. Let's just find something we're thankful for. And Wendy, it absolutely blew me away. Because I knew what I was hoping they would say, but again, mine are all adults, so they're free to say anything now. And they said that many of the crises that we went through, and the hard times that we've went through this year, actually drew us closer as a family. And one of my children said that they never realized how unconditionally they were loved until this year. Where, each family member, each of the siblings, came alongside one of the children. I call them children, but one of my kids. And were there to lend a hand, to help, to pray with, to encourage, to walk alongside as they, you know, walked through some difficult times. It wasn't dad and me, it was their siblings. And that just brought me to tears.
And that's the purpose of the book, Wendy, is I want parents to know that this is a difficult time. We are faced with enormous challenges. We have to understand the world our kids are living in. It's very different from our world when we were teenagers. But, God is not finished. You said at the very beginning, it's always too soon to quit. It's always too soon to quit. Because God is not finished. So if you're in a difficult season with one of your children, don't give up. Don't walk away. Don't throw your hands up. Get on your knees, ask the Lord for direction, for wisdom, for insight. For stamina. For love. For compassion, for insight. And I promise you God will give it to you.
Well, I love that prayer. Would you send us out by praying on our behalf and just bless us in that way? And I'll say thank you right now. Thank you, Connie, for being with us today.
Absolutely. Heavenly Father, thank You for all the listeners. Thank you for Wendy, for her heart, for her passion for equipping parents for raising children for Your glory. Father, I pray for the listeners, Lord, that they might be encouraged in this season of parenting, that it is a season that You have ordained. And that You have not made it impossible, but You have actually made it a season where we can celebrate and enjoy, that we can thrive and not just survive. We pray that each, that this message would be uplifting, encouraging, that parents would seek You for wisdom and counsel, and that they would... in turn, You would bless their families and bring them closer together, in Jesus' Name, Amen.
Amen. And thanks again, Connie.
What a privilege it is to have these conversations with you each week. You are so busy, and I don't take it lightly that you tuned in with new here for a weekly shot of encouragement. As a reminder, you can subscribe to the Homeschool Solutions podcast through Apple or Google Play. And your positive reviews always help other homeschool families find us online.
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I will be in Texas, South Carolina, Ohio, and of course, my home state California this year. I hope to see some of you there. Until next week, visit homeschooling.mom for blog posts to encourage and support you along the way. And remember Galatians six verse nine: let us not grow weary of doing good for in due season we will reap if we do not give up. That's a promise that I take to the bank every day, and I hope you do too. This is Wendy Speake, and I look forward to chatting with you again next week.
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