Day 8. Why Loving Them for Who They Are is 90% of the Battle

big school button 500

Our children are not merely a gift for us to protect and enjoy; they are one-of-a-kind gifts to the world they will one day serve. They were born into a specific time and place for unique purposes. And just as it’s important to work with — instead of against — our God-given personalities as parents, it’s crucial to work with — instead of against — our kids’ God-given personalities too.

As a mom, I’ve always loved to “notice the becoming,” to take note of the little things that offer clues about the bigger selves they’re growing into. When we make it a point to notice, it’s easier to let our kids bloom into their unique selves. That doesn’t mean we won’t lovingly try to redirect their ridiculous plans at times. But even the ridiculous can unfold into happy surprise.

I can’t tell you what any of my children will grow up to be but I already know some of the gifts they’ll each bring to the world. From an artistic eye and keen powers of observation to a heart that’s drawn to the underdog and a way of articulating life that’s quirky and spot. on. And like any parent, I see the weaknesses they carry as well. From the learning struggles that make my mama heart heavy to the character flaws that make my mama heart worry.

We are a jumbled mess of dust and glory.

Ankle deep in the rubble, we discipline and correct one minute while we mine for hidden gems the next. We endure certain traits like this one’s strong will and the other one’s laziness and that joker over there’s incessant need to make everyone laugh even when it’s totally inappropriate. Especially when it’s totally inappropriate.

everything boy

We have three kids and they couldn’t be more different from one another. But we have one family and it’s a balancing act to line up the parts to the whole and the whole to the parts in a way that mostly works. School is a big part of that equation but it’s not everything. Though education counts for a lot, we shouldn’t give it too much power. It never asked to function as our savior but we’re quick to throw stones when it fails to do just that — save us.

Educate in a way that’s practical for you and for the specifics of your family. Because no matter how lovely and appealing the ideal is, it will get knocked down by the “real” at some point. No teaching curriculum can make you an extrovert when you’re an introvert. No art appreciation class will make your child do back flips over Monet when “he sees God and all of the world through a football helmet.” {One of my favorite quotes from a dear friend.}

Public school is not a fruitful choice for every child. The priciest private school can’t guarantee success. And homeschool can’t promise safety and security. Most of us don’t have the luxury of providing each child with the perfect education and a way of life that works for the whole family and keeps parents stable. Besides, the world doesn’t tailor itself to our wish-lists anyway.

But it’s good to know when something is working for your child — whether it’s a certain curriculum or a certain school — and when it’s working against your child. Be honest about yourself, your children, and your options. You can’t make a situation perfect but you can try to make it better. Peel back the layers of tears and frustration {for you both} and peer into the heart of the matter. Instead of caving to despair because a kid doesn’t fit the classroom’s mold or maybe just your mold, love them for who they are. There will still be plenty to figure out but loving them in the raw is 90% of the battle.

Know that their assets have a celebrated place but that their perceived “liabilities” can be an even greater gift, one day bearing the fruit of humility, compassion, and the courage to persevere.

Friends, it takes all kinds to make this world go ’round. Quit thinking that your kids should look more like other families’ kids. Conformity is boring and stifling. Love your children for who they are. Your unconditional love and grace, your quiet noticing and support — these will carry them further than the most well-executed education on the planet.


How do you struggle to embrace your kids for who they are instead of trying to make them over into who you want them to be?

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here. And to read the other posts I’ve written on topic of schooling, you can go here and find them all in one place.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.


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  1. jordan says

    favorite post so far in this serious! so well written, so right on and so encouraging to zoom back from the microscope and see our kids, rather than zoom in to what others are doing and miss it. we sure are a jumbled mess of dust and glory! You do a great job as a mother of this!

    • Marian says

      Jordan, I just wrote to the commenter after you that this post seemed like a hot mess to me. I’m glad it’s your favorite! It’s growing on me too. : )

  2. says

    Marian, I’m so glad you’re doing this series. You know how I feel about your “cool about school” thoughts. . . and I’m so glad you’re developing those thoughts into a whole series of posts. There’s so much that needs to be said, and you say it all with such grace.

    This post, though–this one is GOLD. And it doesn’t just apply to elementary school or middle school or high school. Stretch it on out into college selection or extra-curricular participation or sports or camp or even church activities. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom!

    • Marian says

      Richella, you know what’s funny? I thought this would be a quick little post to write and it needed to be. With 31 posts and a project in the background and real life to juggle, I don’t have time to labor. But this didn’t come together at all. It was clunky and awful and I ended up working way too hard on it and finally said, “Whatever. It’s not cohesive enough but it’s time to ship.” THANK YOU for the kind words. I’m simply relieved it was coherent. : )


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