Mentoring Moms—“Dancing” Together without Stepping on Toes, Part 2

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In Part 1, we looked at the mentoring relationship in the context of a dancing relationship in which each partner is trying to enjoy the music and share the experience, but has yet to find the comfortable rhythm (and is still a bit shy of stepping on toes!).

Thinking about that analogy led me to consider how newer and more veteran homeschooling moms might find that “rhythm.” In the cotillion of homeschooling community, when might we line-dance, instead of leading-and-following? Is there a time for the seasoned dancer—who may have already scoped out the ballroom—to gently guide one who may be tentative in the homeschool waltz (or to rescue one who seems to be on the path to “limbo lower now”)? And how do we veterans stay open to learning some innovative moves from the newer parents?

In this installment, let’s look at how to find the common, comfortable rhythm…..

Does Heritage Impact Your Vision?

While some newer homeschoolers aren’t interested in hearing about the “homeschool pioneers” or the trail-blazers—may not even care for the terms— others are inspired by the testimonies of those who paved the way for the homeschooling freedom we enjoy today.

If veteran homeschoolers seem a bit heavy on the “have a vision and understand the history” side, it may help to think of them as revolutionaries—not unlike our nation’s founders—who are simply concerned that without that vision, without that reminder of our past struggles, we may find our liberties eroding. Or as John Adams admonished:

Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom! I hope you will make a good use of it.

When they get to the end of their homeschool “dance card,” some veterans need assurance that others will continue the choreography, even if the foxtrot has turned to hip-hop.

Here are a few resources to help us grasp that vision and remember our homeschool heritage:

Many of us find encouragement and vision at our state conventions or in homeschool magazines, while others are inspired by blog posts or social media groups. Where do you get your inspiration, your vision?

Finding a Common Rhythm

Some of my younger friends tell me that they come into homeschooling in the midst of other careers, often with college debt, and they are concerned about giving up their dreams (or their incomes, which often are very instrumental in their households). I have wept with many a sweet young mama who fears she will lose herself in her family if she homeschools, or even if she stays home to care for her littles.

I homeschooled 17 kiddos in a culture that frowned upon “giving up my own life” to be a stay-at-home (or even a work-at-home) mom. This was my career choice during this time period, and I wanted my children to know I picked this life, that staying home with them was my magnificent opus (a la Charlotte’s Web).

It didn’t mean I gave up “me”—rather, it meant I used my gifts, my talents, my skills, and my passions to craft our own unique homeschool life, our own approach. We didn’t give up ministry or artistic pursuits—we simply found ways to include our family in most things. Sure, we had to get creative sometimes, but that’s just part of parenthood.

Many aren’t sure they can even do this homeschool thing. In a recent informal poll of more than 100 homeschool families, among the top three answers to the question, “What is your biggest fear in homeschooling?” were I’m not sure I’m doing enough and I’m afraid my kids will hate me.

I am passionate about helping parents—moms in particular—homeschool with joy (well, most days!) by having realistic expectations of themselves, their children, and their spouses. That includes not comparing themselves to others, and it includes being transparent with each other, to create a culture of encouragement and support.

As a seasoned homeschooler, I don’t want to tell you how to do things, but I hope I can share some ways I’ve seen things done, to help you choose options that may fit your family’s needs. I want to be a listener, not just an advisor.

Regardless of your age or season of homeschooling: What do you need me to hear? And what do you need me to say?

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Originally published in Homeschooling Today magazine Spring 2018 Issue. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.homeschoolingtoday.com

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