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Question: Dear Rita: I am having so much trouble homeschooling. I get so frustrated by the end of the week. I feel like I have to fight battles all the time to get the kids to do what they are supposed to do. Don't get me wrong... They are often so very good. But there are times they don't want to be. I just sometimes get so angry. I am feeling discouraged and burnt out. One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool was so that I could deal with the behavior patterns that I felt needed attention, yet I feel like I am not doing that well. I don't know what to do. I feel like I have to constantly monitor, and I resent it. I am just worn out. What to do, I can't stop parenting. I have blown up before but I don't want to .... Help. Some behaviors I don't discipline well or consistently, I know. I think maybe my expectations are too high and then when I have to deal with stuff that I don't want to have to deal with, or that I am tired of dealing with, I am impatient, or angry inside. Don't get me wrong, there has been so much good in homeschooling, but I want my home to be happy and loving. I need to surrender this whole thing to God again, and again, and again. This 24/7 mothering is tough.
Answer:

Dear Mom,

Thank you for such a candid letter describing the sorrows that you are bearing during this time of confusion. Your faithful journey is a holy witness. Please believe me when I tell you that your letter will speak to the hearts of many dear moms and it is for this reason that I praise the Lord for allowing you to be empowered to take your time and write. Let me share with you some thoughts that were going through my head and were indeed on my heart as I read your letter.

The Tempter likes nothing better than to have the Lord's own precious little ones, throw up their hands in anger and cave in with sorrow to the burdens that the Lord alone has allowed into their lives. Many times when we are faced with overwhelming challenges it is a very human reaction to say, "That's it. I've had enough." The danger here of course is that we may make a decision from haste and not from the will of the Father. In our human spirit we are wanting to be free of the burden and the sorrow visited upon us through the burden. We can only think of one way out and that is to give up. To be sure there are going to be those times when we are supposed to 'let go' of expectations, challenges, burdens, and situations in order to give the Lord more room to operate in our life. However these times can only be discerned through prayer and contemplation and confirmation in our choice. Let Go and Let God. I am sure you have heard this many times in your life. But it is so true. There are some situations that will not change and others that will change with time and still others that will change when we change. The Holy Spirit wants us to know the difference and He seeks to guide and direct us every step of the way.

Discouragement, despair, and frustration are tools of the Tempter. The Tempter is always on the prowl for those challenges and situations that have the potential to draw us from the Lord's powerful aid. Remember that the challenges do not draw us from the Lord but how we handle them certainly has that potential. Therefore the Tempter is constantly seeking his timing and circumstance to interfere to take us farther from the Lord. For example, though a lie may seem like the best solution to rid ourselves of an unpleasant situation it is not the solution that the Lord would have us take. Jesus is constantly empowering us to take the better path and to choose those responses that will uplift us and draw us nearer to a more complete understanding of His power within the situation. Jesus tells us that in our weakness He is made strong.

The behaviors that you are dealing with are at this point overwhelming to be sure because they are causing you to lose your momentum and your ability to see through the behavior to solutions. Think for a moment how you would feel if a teacher from the public school was calling the house to tell you that your dear children were misbehaving, lazy and being disrespectful. All too often overwhelmed homeschooling moms begin to think that homeschooling is the root cause of all their challenges that they are currently facing with young people. Would that this were true, for then we could put our children into public school and cure all our ills. You don't believe that and neither do I. Certain behavior challenges come with the territory of children. It is best to look first to the behavior and not think of causes beyond the normal learning and maturing process that all children must go through. Have you noticed with your teens how some of them seem to have more trouble with acne while other children from the same family seem to be infinitely blest with spotless complexions? Though each circumstance is within normal it shows you the wide range of normal in people.

Communication is the first and most important and most underused tool in the family. Dealing with behaviors that are counter productive to the efficient running of the household is wearisome and trying, however these behaviors do present an opportunity for teaching, directing, and for the holy witness of centered communication. We must step back from our challenges to see the Lord at work in the work. Jesus is asking you to address some very important issues. What a blessing that these issues can be met on your own terms and within full knowledge of everyone in the family. It is time for a family caucus whereby the parents and the teens are working together to solve challenges. Communicating needs, and expectations, and the normal give and take of discussion is the Lord at work. The Holy Spirit desires to be at the center of these talks. Go forward into the work at hand. It is vital that you teach your children the lessons of correcting this negative behavior. This is more important than anything they could or will learn academically. For don't you see, if they do not deal with this negative aspect of their journey now, it will only come to nudge them later when the stakes are much higher? Whether or not you choose to continue to homeschool makes no difference at this point. These challenges must be met in order that your children will continue in their lives as peaceful individuals.

Now let's look to you, mom. When I have had a particularly trying and upsetting season in my life that turns me into a jangle of nerves filled with tension, it does cause me to use behaviors that I am not proud of. The shouting and the demanding are so counterproductive and serve only to cause more harm than good. I will share with you that I must first recognize my shortcomings. I must pray for the insights from the Holy Spirit to see where I have failed. I then go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The next step is to step up my prayer life. Invariably it is during those times that I thought I was too busy to pray that the challenges seem the most difficult to deal with. During my reception of the Lord's Precious Body I pray that He will heal me in every way that needs healing. Then I come before my children and apologize for those times that I was less than a holy witness. Now that the air is cleared I can be a better contributing force in the family discussions. When we empty ourselves of the anger, the resentment, and all the negative emotions that are not pleasing to the Lord, we have the great blessing of seeing the Lord's own work during the challenges even during the darkest of times. It is as though our negative behavior has veiled our spirits to the wonderful work that the Lord is doing all along. Furthermore this docile and clean spirit allows that we are better attuned to the empowerment and inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus loves you more than you can humanly appreciate. He embraces you tenderly and holds you close to His heart each and every moment of your life. You are His beloved and He longs to comfort you and empower you to work through the challenges, burdens, and sorrows that you are facing. Jesus promised that He would never leave us orphan. Can you imagine abandoning one of your children when they needed you most? Of course not. Neither does Jesus leave us. Do not let the Tempter convince you otherwise. Rest in the Lord's embrace. Sit quietly in your rocking chair early in the morning when the house is quiet and just rest in the Lord's tender mercy. Allow the Lord to soothe your broken spirit and trust in His doing so.

I admire you very much. Please know that you are in my prayers each day on the 4th Glorious Mystery. I humbly ask for your prayers as well. I am a beggar for prayer. Thank you for entrusting your sorrows to this forum. You are a holy witness. Go forward and be empowered by the love of the Lord.

Let us pray together a Hail Mary and offer our prayers for all those mothers who will read your letter and gain insights and renewed courage. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

   
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