Affirmation. Words of encouragement. Words of praise. Words of confirmation. Words of affection. Words of pride. Words of belonging. These all describe that one word–affirmation.
I recently read an article about a study of hundreds of college athletes that lasted over three decades. In this article, “What Makes a Nightmare Sports Parent and What Makes a Great One.” these college athletes described two things that are poignant for parents of all children, including non-athletes.
Throughout the years, we have been told that we take parenting too seriously. Yes, people actually told us that. They told us to lighten up. They have told us it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.
This homeschool benefit is especially important to me. When I first learned about homeschooling, I happened to be in my very last semester at Ball State University studying elementary education. I read four books by Dr. Raymond Moore as I was
graduating and finishing up my degree. (I was given these books by someone
in my church.)
I thought it would be fun to have a series called homeschool benefits. I
think a lot of times after we have homeschooled for so long, we begin to
take for granted all of the benefits and all of the good things that come as
a result of our homeschooling.
Piglet sidled up to Pooh. “Pooh!” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw. I just wanted to be sure of you.”
One way that we have tried to have one-on-one conversations with our children, in spite of there being seven of them, is to take a child with us in the vehicle whenever possible. We began this custom when we just had three small children, making it a point to always “take whomever had shoes on” with us when one of us ran an errand.
Through the years, our custom has become a little more sophisticated (especially now that the kids are older and not always available to go run errands). Now we focus not on who has shoes on but rather on who needs Mom or Dad the most at that time. It is not uncommon for us to discuss the week in terms of kids’ needs and for one of us to say, “Why don’t you have ______ ride up with you to see your mom Wednesday night, so the two of you have a chance to talk about that.” Whatever that might be.
Of course, good discussion can also take place in the vehicle with more than one child with you. We had three girls in a row followed by three boys in a row (after our first child, a boy). This made it particularly good for talking in groups, and it wasn’t uncommon for the boys and Dad to have “Daddy talks” while en route places. (And I could never disclose the contents of those talks!)
Sometimes deep discussions did not take place. Sometimes we just talked about what we saw outside (more on that tomorrow!). Other times, it was just like the quote above by AA Milne—and the child just needed to “be sure of us.”
In case you think that taking a child one-at-a-time is still not that important, let me leave you with this thought: We have had children repent of deceit, cry their eyes out over a broken heart, and even accept Christ as their Savior in a vehicle, one-on-one with Mom and/or Dad. We actually had our oldest child reveal to the two of us whom he thought he wanted to marry (and he did several months later) in the drive-through of a fast food restaurant. Never underestimate time spent with Dad and Mom alone doing something as mundane as running errands!