by Barb Shelton
Intersperse your own reading with talking with him, using his walk with the Lord as the focal and motivating point. Does he love the Lord? If not, that's where you need to start; if so, then he's going to want to follow Him and His way. You, as the parent, have been placed over him for this season of his life for a reason ~ a good reason. The anguish you are feeling in your heart did not come from the world, but from God.
Talk about what he wants in life and how he thinks he's going to get there. And please do not revert to "submission to parental authority" here to make your points. Yes, this is important, but if you want to engage a child's heart and mind, you need to appeal to his walk with God, not just the "rightness" of obeying you. God honors that, of course, but to grow into maturity, your child, more than anything, needs to be discipled and gain understanding, not just walk in what is right or what he feels he wants.
Marilyn Howshall's book Wisdom's Way of Learning along with just about all of her new books may help even more than Parenting Adolescents at this point. (It depends on your particular need.) They will all eventually come into the picture, I believe, but let God show you how to proceed. More on this in a moment...
You may need to change how you speak to and with your child(ren), perhaps even your younger ones. (That may be where some of the trouble started.) When I hear basic conversations between parents and their children, I think "No wonder!" that the children now have bad attitudes! Disrespect is so common! I trust that the Lord will start speaking to your heart about this.
Another thing commonly lacking is physical affection. This can do wonders for a relationship and can heal and bond. A child never outgrows his need for this, but sadly too many become "too cool" for it. Thus a huge vacuum is created that most kids seek to fill with premature (literally) relationships with the opposite s_x.* And by "premature," I mean "before maturity." I personally believe that the only kind of relationship kids should have with the opposite s_x before they are mature enough to be getting married is of a "brother-sister" nature. (More on that in the "Romance & Relationships God's Way" section of the Article Chart.) I have been so delighted to see our older two children remain just as affectionate with both Dave and me. Tory (our 20-year-old son) still lays on his dad and even sits in his lap (mostly for fun) sometimes! Sharnessa sits in his laps with total seriousness! And both love backrubs from me, and I love getting them from them to! None of this is forced, but feels very natural and sweet.
If your student is burned out on too much "school at home," I suggest that you allow him or her a time of "debriefing." Janie Levine Hellyer has written an excellent article on "Bringing Them Home" that you will gain much from. And Marilyn Howshall talks about this in various places in her writing. There's not just one single book on it; but you need to hear everything she says anyway, not just her thoughts on "this thing or that." Part of the cause of the burn-out and rebellion is due to wrong attitudes about education. If this is not fixed, nothing else will do much good because you'll still be caught in the same maze that is causing the problems in the first place!
Have you noticed that rebellion in the teen years is actually expected!?! What a shame this is, reflecting a gross lack of understanding of the heart of child raising and training! It is widely accepted that rebellion is as natural and expected as puberty, and is a "healthy" part of growing up! Nonsense!!! It is natural and "to be expected" only if foolish parents expect it and do not take the time to seek God, yield their own hearts to God, and "study to show themselves approved" in this area.
And I don't mean just one "psycho-babbly" book brimming with today's short-sighted, supposedly "modern" ideas. There is some truth in today's psychological counsel, and I realize that much of it came out of a repulsion for too-strict and legalistic approaches to child raising that were touted as "biblical" and "godly." The only way for anything to be truly biblical and godly is for it to be founded on love, grace, and wisdom. Aside falling short of that automatically loses that title.
But unfortunately too many kids were raised by "pseudo-godly" parents, who were "holding on to a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" ~ namely the power of love. And so these embittered and disillusioned children, instead of seeking the truth of God, sought the world for its solution. Unfortunately, it just doesn't work either. Only a return to a complete surrender to God and to seeking His ways and His heart can produce good fruit.
And as I mentioned, it's going to take more than reading one good book on the subject. It's going to take a focused season. There are many aspects of this season, many areas that will need to be covered and recovered, and often much ground that needs to be recovered as well. The "obvious" need is to focus on child training books, and they will surely be part of it. But be open to God leading you to ones that are more "spiritual" in nature, because that is commonly the root cause of the problems between parents and their children, not so much the external expressions, which we tend to focus on.
So start with prayer, and then proceed to some resources that you sense God leading you to. Changing the Heart of a Rebel is good, and so are Shepherding a Child's Heart and The Key to Your Child's Heart.
If finances are tight, pray for God to bring about people who have the books that you could borrow. (Just to warn you, very few of them are going to be found in a public library; they are "off the beaten course," which explains why "the beaten course" is so well-trodden with rebellious feet!) Or you might pray for God to lead you to someone who'd want to go in with you and purchase materials together so that you can share ~ and split the cost of ~ the resources.
(By the way, I did not start out thinking "Hmmm, how can I sell something to homeschoolers?" I have been counseling people ~ one-by-one on the phone, and at my seminars ~ in the direction of these resources and such a season for many years now, and have only recently finally come up with a basic (generic) outline for it, and a syllabus to use as an "alongside guide" and journal. We decided to start selling the books for this season ~ which include several of mine and several by other authors I admire ~ when I realized how many people were having a hard time locating them, or were overwhelmed at having to hunt them down from so many different sources.)
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