In my post “Is College a Must?” I shared a little about our oldest son, who is now 21 and about to graduate from college. Jake has known for years what he wants to do. He found his passion early. As we all know, our children, though they have the same parents, can all be VERY different (even when there are eight of them). That is the beauty of homeschooling: it gives us the freedom to help our kids find their passion in their own time and to not assume that college is the ONLY road to success.
Our second son, Ben (18), couldn’t be more different than his older brother. Ben is people-oriented. He loves to read, make espresso, and cook Italian food, and he loves drama and performing in plays as well as survival and military type training. He is more of a “late bloomer.” From the time he was very, very young, he would become obsessed with one character and BE that character for months, even years: Thomas the Tank Engine (being an engineer), a pilot, a bull rider, etc. It was very cute and fun when he was little, but as he got older, I became concerned that he wasn’t living in reality and wouldn’t ever leave “Never Never Land” and embrace the practicalities of life: choosing a career path, providing for a family, etc.
Along the way, we’ve encouraged Ben to be dependable, honest, and hard-working. Most of that happened through chores, gardening, and helping his dad with big projects, like landscaping and building our house. It also happened through a drama class he has taken for several years. He has slowly risen to the occasion and has a good reputation for exhibiting these character qualities while working for neighbors, etc.
After Ben finished his sophomore year at age 17, he still hadn’t decided on a career path. Aside from maybe taking some cooking classes, he wasn’t at all enthusiastic about going to college, especially since he didn’t have much of a clue as to what it was he really wanted to do. Over the course of several months, I had been praying more diligently about Ben’s future asking God to bring along opportunities that would help him grow in skills and confidence OUTSIDE of our home. I had realized after having graduated three kids that this was something I wanted to encourage the rest of our kids to do earlier rather than later. It’s important to have skills and confidence at home (that’s where it starts), but the real maturing and “final touches,” so to speak, on preparing our kids for real life happen when they are working for someone else. This is where it becomes “their deal,” and they can truly “own” a much bigger portion of their adulthood.
I had been searching for a campground to hold a retreat when one of the directors I was talking to mentioned something about hiring summer help. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that working at a camp might be right up Ben’s alley! When I told Ben about it, he immediately got on the computer and applied for a summer job. Long story short, he got the job and was there most of the summer! It momentarily tugged on my mother heart that we wouldn’t be spending the summer with him, but deep inside, I knew this opportunity was an answer to prayer and could change the course of Ben’s future. I had to give Ben the chance to stand on his own two feet and take some big strides toward manhood.
Throughout that summer, Ben came home for 24 hours (a Sabbath) once a week. Each week, we could see him growing and maturing at warp speed. He was absolutely LOVING what he was doing! He was finally making his own path and finding his passion. He could see himself doing something like this as a career. He was gaining a vision for his future.
Ben is now getting ready to graduate from high school. He just got a job as an apprentice at a grocery store with plans to move toward law enforcement. His experience working at the campground helped him learn that he loves people and loves being part of a team.
Becoming a camp director isn’t the exact career path Ben decided to follow, but this experience grew him in ways that simply couldn’t have happened at home. It helped him recognize his passion so that he can go on to do what he was made to do. As parents, it’s our job to know when to help steer and when to let our kids take the wheel. It’s through these experiences and opportunities that our kids have the opportunity to take ownership of their lives, and it’s one of the great benefits of homeschooling!
NOTE: The image above, “Wooden Sign Post,” is provided courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/anankkm
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If you love Durenda’s perspective and veteran-homeschooling-mama wisdom, you are going to be THRILLED to learn she has a new ebook that just published… The Unhurried Homeschooler!! Durenda gently reminds parents about the things that really matter, as she offers a clear portrait of what a life-giving home life can be during the homeschooling years.