Be kind, be gentle

Opportunity for a kindness

I spent too much time today reading accounts of child abuse in homeschooling families. I couldn’t stop. It was like watching train wreck after train wreck in slow, horrible, inevitable motion. I didn’t want to keep reading; I couldn’t stop reading.

The dirty little secret in home education is how much control and anger get directed at our sweet young kids (and awkward fledgling teens) in the name of “helping” them to become self-disciplined models of character and academic achievement.

Be warned: A habit of hardness leaves lasting scars.

Certainly plenty of parents are the garden variety that offer big love and abundant support mixed with the occasional exasperated outburst and the daily hand-wringing (sometimes turned lecture) about how to ensure a successful education and smooth transition to adulthood—family jostling and bumping into each other as they make their way through the “we all live together” years.

But some of us bring that little bit extra—that zing, that pop, that over-zealous, over-functioning rigidity to our homeschools. We scream, we shame, we blame, we demean, we punish, we prophesy doom, we herald the end of the world… and sometimes, we even succumb to abuse—physical and verbal—in the name of love, in the name of homeschool, in the name of our ideology.

Tonight, I want to say: Shhhhhhhh.

Let it go.

Let your children be children. Let your teens struggle to emerge. Let yourself off the hook.

You don’t owe the world a model family. You don’t have to get it right. Neither do your kids.

Everyone gets better at growing up over time—including you, the parent.

Be the one who stands for kindness in your family. Be remembered for your gentleness. Wait an extra hour before acting and reacting.

Remember the kindness of your parents or significant adult caregiver—the stand-out memories that helped you through childhood. Be that person for your children.

And if you need it: get help. Today’s a great day to heal, to start over.

Your kids deserve peace, and so do you.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image by Celestine Chua (cc)

2 Responses to “Be kind, be gentle”

  1. Corey says:

    I’m so glad that you are a wise mentor to so many of us. Thank you for practicing what you preach and not using shame and anger to counteract the shame and anger parents are using. This is a timely word for this tired mama.