Updated: Apr 20, 2020
I often used to lay awake at night, worrying: Was I doing enough for them? Was I being too strict? Too lenient? Was I giving them enough individual attention? Was I neglecting anyone?
Homeschooling only intensified this; I felt pressured to get everything right, felt it was my responsibility to teach them everything. As much as I loved it—and I really loved it!—it was a lot.
Any academic, social or spiritual lack, any bad attitudes or habits, how well they did their school work or their chores—in my mind it all came down to whether or not I was doing enough, and doing it well enough. There was always more that I could be doing, or doing better.
Outwardly I was positive and cheerful; as I said, I really loved homeschooling, and loved being a mom. But on the inside I was just plain overwhelmed. I would often go into the bathroom to cry, then dry my tears and come out as if nothing was wrong because I believed it would harm my kids to see me crying.
It seemed a cruel twist; the thing that gave the greatest joy and sense of meaning to my life—being a mother—was the very thing that was making me a neurotic wreck.
But was motherhood really the problem?
As I considered this, I realized the real problem wasn’t simply that my goals were unrealistic—even though they probably were. The problem was that I had assumed full responsibility for my children’s future. Forget circumstances or their own choices—I figured what they chose and how they handled circumstances depended on how well I did my job as their mom.
If you’ve read more of my blog posts, you may know that I eventually put the kids in a private school. In doing that, I had less control over things, and had to learn to trust God, other adults, and my children a lot more, which turned out to be less of a challenge and more of a relief than I had thought it would be!
I wouldn’t be a parent coach if I didn’t believe that a parent’s influence is of vital importance to a child’s future, and I can’t tell you statistically how that influence compares to other influences. But I can tell you this: The ultimate responsibility for any person’s life lies with himself alone.
For me and my kids, realizing this made for a better life. Sure, there were still times when I’d have to fight off fears of the future, or guilt for my mistakes. But having felt the freedom of knowing it wasn’t entirely up to me, I never wanted to go back. The responsibility for a child’s future is a load no parent is equipped to carry. I took that load off, and it now rests where it belongs, divided evenly on the shoulders of my five grown children.