Grace is one of those things we all love to get but is often hard to give — especially to our teens. We know it’s our last chance to instruct them before they go out into the world to sink or swim! Are you giving grace to your teen?
In this episode — part of the Care and Feeding of Homeschooled Teens series — I discuss what grace is and how to give it. And I share a guilty secret! LOL.
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This episode is sponsored by CTC Math.
Are you looking for a new math curriculum? CTCMath specializes in providing online video tutorials that take a multi-sensory approach to learning. Favorably reviewed in Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks and the Old Schoolhouse Crew Review, the lessons are short and concise, to help your children break down concepts and appreciate math in a whole new way.
The lessons are taught the traditional way, not to a test. Each one of the video tutorials is taught by an internationally acclaimed teacher Pat Murray, who is renowned for teaching math concepts in a simple, easy-to-understand way and in only a few minutes at a time. Using a multisensory approach, having the combination of effective graphics and animation synchronized with the voice of a friendly teacher together with practical assessment. This three-pronged attack makes learning so much easier and more effective. Even students who struggled with math are getting fantastic results, and ones who were doing okay before are now doing brilliantly.
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Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen?
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Ann Karako: Hi, this is Ann Karako and you are listening to Episode 90 of the It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School podcast.
Welcome to another episode of It’s Not That Hard to Homeschool High School, the podcast for real people so that you can confidently, competently, and, yes, even contentedly provide the high school education that is best for your teen and your family. I’m your host, Ann Karako from notthathardtohomeschool.com.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. I hope you’re having a good day today. I am starting early today. I was supposed to do this yesterday actually. [laughs] It’s a Wednesday morning right now. Normally, I prefer to record the podcast on Tuesday, and then that gives me plenty of time to get it ready for publication on Friday. Yesterday, I did something else instead. [laughs] I had this on my schedule for yesterday and I had something to do in the morning that took me out of the house.
I was supposed to come back to the house and record the podcast. Guess what? I didn’t. Because halfway home, I remembered, “Oh, I have some Style Cash from Banana Republic in my wallet and it’s going to expire soon, so maybe I should go there instead and see if they have anything.” [laughs] Yes, that’s what I did. I may or may not have spent three hours in Banana Republic. [laughs]
Since I live near Branson, I can go to the one at the Tanger outlet near me, so I get outlet prices. Then with the Style Cash, I can make out really well there. I love their clothing. There used to be a New York & Company in the Tanger outlets that I used to love, but they closed down. I also tend to go to LOFT, although they closed down for a while too. They’re back open in, literally, the exact same place, but I haven’t been in their new store yet. I didn’t have Style Cash for LOFT, right? I had it for Banana Republic.
Just as a side note, does anybody else ever buy the exact same piece of clothing in two colors because you can’t choose between the two colors? I did that yesterday. [laughs] Then when I got home, it was almost dinner time. Basically, I did not have the motivation or the energy to record the podcast yesterday. I could have done it after dinner. I could have, but I didn’t want to. [laughs] I didn’t want to force myself.
I knew I would be low energy and that it wouldn’t be that great of a thing. I postponed it till this morning and told myself, “I will do it first thing in the morning.” Of course, I can’t do it very first thing today because other things came up, but I will admit that I am sitting here in my jammies recording this podcast. That means it’s a fairly first thing, right? [laughs] Why am I even telling you this story? I do have a reason for it. Bear with me for a sec and I will get back to this.
Today, I want to talk a little bit more about parenting teens as we homeschool them. We are on the second-to-last episode of care and feeding of homeschooled teens. In the email series that I did on this back last spring, this was the last installment. I’ve got another topic to talk about that came to me a few weeks ago, so we’re going to add that on the end for December’s first Friday podcast episode.
We do have a guest podcaster coming again, the third Friday of this month, so those are always fun to look forward to. Anyway, back to the topic for today. I have a blog post written called Two Things— How does it go? Two Things About Parenting That Should Never Change or something like that. It talks about, as your family grows, you keep adding more kids… Oftentimes, we tend to change our parenting as we go down the birth order, but these two things should never change even as your youngest is growing up.
You may let them watch different movies than you watch the older kids or stay up later or what have you or not make as big of an issue out of certain things that they do, but these two things should never change. One of them is making sure that your kid feels loved. Be very obvious about that. Tell them that all the time. Show them that. Hugs, smiles. We’ve talked about that off and on.
The second one I talked about in that article is transparency, which basically means when you make a mistake, own up to it. Be willing to admit you’re wrong. Be transparent about your own mistakes because showing that kind of humility will build bridges in your relationships with your kids and especially with your teens. We’ve talked about that one as well. There is a third thing I would add to that list now.
If I were writing that article over again, I think I would add a third thing to that list and that thing is grace. Grace is our topic for today. What is grace? Grace means allowing our kids to fail. [laughs] When we’re talking about teens, so let’s just say that, allowing our teens to fail without always having to turn it into a teachable moment or to train them through it or to be correcting or criticizing their failure.
Let’s think about this for a minute and let’s go back to the story I just told you. I had a schedule, a plan for my day, and then I didn’t follow it. In fact, I put a duty — It’s not a duty to sit here and record for you all, but you know what I mean? I set that aside, that task, that productive task, in favor of going shopping. [laughs] Does your teen ever do something similar? Would I call that a mistake or a failure? To a certain extent, yes, I would.
It means that my week now is backed up because now on Wednesday morning, I’m recording this podcast, which gives me less time to get it ready for publication on Friday. Also, things came up this morning already that are affecting today, but I have to record this podcast now. Whereas before if I had recorded it yesterday, then that would be one less thing on my list of other things that need to get done today. It does affect me.
Just because I’m here alone a lot of the times these days does not mean these types of choices don’t affect me negatively. Granted it was a ton of fun. It is more fun to go shopping, I have to admit that, than to sit down and record a podcast episode. [laughs] I think a lot of people could probably relate to that. We enjoy shopping. I enjoy shopping. It’s a fun time. I generally take a long time, go through the store and pick out almost everything that I think I might like, and then take it to the dressing room and try it on.
They know me there now. [laughs] Okay, enough of that. The choice was not necessarily the best choice I could have made, especially because it does involve spending more money, right? There’s that too. Did I need these items of clothing? I probably could’ve lived without them. I’ve made choice to spend money rather than go home and save money. I made a choice to do something fun for myself instead of come home and be productive for y’all.
In some senses, you could call that a mistake or a failure. Now, I am making choices to adapt to the situation to correct it, if you will, by recording first thing this morning. I’m just giving you that as an example because, hey, here’s the thing. What if your teen had done something like that? What if your teen had put aside a task, maybe working on a particular subject, in favor of doing something rather frivolous? Maybe video games.
Just to name [laughs] one that might be rather common. There’s obviously other things. Maybe your daughter is experimenting with ways to fix her hair rather than knuckling down to do her math or something. Do we allow them this type of error if you want to call it that? Do we allow them to make this kind of mistake or choice without correcting them about it? “You know, if you hadn’t wasted that time, then you would’ve been done with this already,” or something along those lines.
I know that as homeschool moms, we tend to think that every single thing is a teachable moment and that we are supposed to be in training and correcting mode all the time. I’m here to say, today, maybe we want to rethink that, especially with our teens. Seriously, what do you want most when you fail? Whether it’s an insignificant failure or a larger failure, what do you want most? Do you want somebody to tell you what you should have done?
Do you want somebody to bring it back up again later when you’re in a similar situation and they say, “Oh, remember when you made the wrong choice last time or when you fail last time?” Do you want somebody to tell you how they would’ve done it? [laughs] That one’s always a good one, right? No, you don’t. In the case of insignificant stuff, you don’t want people to pay attention to it at all, right? Why bother? In the case of larger failures, you’re aware you failed, right?
Do you need somebody to really point it out to you? “What do you really want?” Probably just a big, old hug. Am I right? That’s the case for me anyway. Just a hug and some compassion. That’s what I want. That is grace right there is when somebody is not rubbing your nose in your failure but is giving you compassion and understanding about it. We can so easily want that from others and yet refuse to give it to others.
We’re trying to be helpful with our teens, right? We know that they are under our roof for only so long and we’re trying to squeeze in every single moment of instruction and correction and training that we can so that they’re ready for the big wide world, but teens don’t need that as much anymore. That’s the thing to remember. As our teens are growing through those high school years, we need to start loosening our reins little by little as they can handle it and that includes when they fail.
Hey, I’m just hopping in to say that this episode has been sponsored by CTCMath. Are you looking for a new math curriculum? CTCMath specializes in providing online video tutorials that take a multisensory approach to learning. Favorably reviewed in Cathy Duffy’s 102 top picks and the old Schoolhouse Crew Review. The lessons are short and concise to help your children break down concepts and appreciate math in a whole new way. The lessons are taught the traditional way, not to a test.
Each one of the video tutorials is taught by an internationally-acclaimed teacher, Pat Murray, who is renowned for teaching math concepts in a simple, easy-to-understand way, and in only a few minutes at a time using a multisensory approach, having the combination of effective graphics and animation synchronized with the voice of a friendly teacher together with practical assessment. This three-pronged attack makes learning so much easier and more effective. Even students who struggled with math are getting fantastic results and ones who were doing okay before are now doing brilliantly. Visit ctcmath.com today to start your free trial. That’s ctcmath.com.
I get it. There are some failures that are bigger than others and some failures do need consequences, but how we handle those consequences can be huge. Our teens do know what we expect. They do know it and they know when they’ve failed without us pointing it out every single time. Sometimes, guess what, they’re going to make mistakes anyway [laughs] just like we do even though we know better a lot of the time.
It is part of growth, right? We’re all always growing by failing a lot of the time. I think it’s important that we learn instead of nitpicking or instead of pointing it out every time to give the benefit of the doubt. Is it possible that there are factors here that you don’t know anything about? When you see your team doing something that you think is a poor decision or a failure, maybe there are reasons that they have for doing it that way.
If we’re quick to jump on them rather than hear them out, that’s not a great way to bolster their confidence and it’s not a great way to build that relationship. Frankly, the people who get corrected about anything and everything all the time are the people that are afraid in life to take risks to do anything that might be out of the norm or that they would be fearful, would offend somebody, or be the wrong decision.
Sometimes we got to teach our kids that failure is okay, that it is part of life, part of growth, and we can learn so much from it. In order to teach those kinds of lessons, we need to have that compassion and understanding and give grace rather than be criticizing or complaining about their failures. Here’s a question and this actually harks back a little bit to that article that I wrote.
Are they absolutely certain that you love them no matter what even when they’re failing, even when they’re being annoying, even when they’re manifesting their faults in a big way? Sometimes when we’re so quick to criticize and to complain and to correct– Three Cs. I love me some alliteration. When we’re quick to do those things rather than showing understanding, they might have an impression that we’re only happy with them.
We’re only loving them when they’re doing what we think is right. Something to think about. A lot of things as they get into these teen years and older through older high school years, a lot of things we can really just overlook. Don’t you think? A lot of them are small enough that we can give them the benefit of the doubt that they understand they’ve made a mistake and will learn from it without us having to point it out or tell them how to learn from it, or we can just release that control a little bit and not be so instructional all the time.
“I’m going to tell you how to think about this, kid,” right? No, we don’t always have to do that. They are learning for themselves what they like and don’t like. If it’s a huge thing, it’s too big of a thing to overlook, then can we respond with compassion, with understanding? Can we take the time to find out their point of view with patience and gentleness? Can we administer consequences if necessary? Can we do that gently and respectfully? These are always to show grace.
“Yes, kid, you made a mistake and it is going to affect things a little bit. We are going to have to do some consequences there, but we are here for you. We’re here for you through this process. We love you and we want what’s best for you. That’s why we’re doing this.” That kind of dialogue can make a huge difference. It’s not coming from a place of, “I always know better than you.” It’s coming from a place of, “I understand about mistakes. I’ve made so many of them myself. Let’s get through this together.”
What about the concept of forgiveness? That plays in a little bit here too. Forgiveness means three things. Forgiveness means, one, we are not going to bring the offense back up to the offender again. We’re not going to remind them of it later. Two, we’re not going to tell others about it. Three, we’re not going to bring it up even to ourselves again. If we find ourselves thinking about it negatively, we’re going to stop and focus on something else.
If we are unforgiving of our teen’s mistakes in the past, if we keep rehashing them even in our own mind, then that will color how we view the next mistake, won’t it? Then we might be more quick to criticize and judge. Instead, if we are practicing forgiveness on a regular basis, then each incident is a fresh one. Yes, we need to be aware of patterns. I get that. It’s not like we’re forgetting that the prior incident happened. It’s just a matter of not allowing it to color what’s happening now because people do grow and change.
In between the last one and this one, there might be some differing factors. It might not be the same type of thing at all. Unless we react with grace, we won’t know that. This applies not just with our teens, right? Frankly, it applies with our husbands. [laughs] It applies with the younger kids. It applies with the kids between each other, right? Sibling relationships. Can your kids give grace to one another?
Imagine how much more peaceful home life would be if everyone was characterized by giving grace rather than jumping to offense and argument and anger and criticism and correction. Just think about that for a moment. I think it would be a lot more peaceful, don’t you? Let’s be grace givers. Let’s think about how that applies as we are homeschooling our teens, our entire family, and relating with those around us. Let’s think about, “Is this a situation where I really need to point out what a better way would have been or can I just let it go?”
I hope this has been helpful today. Of course, I will post all sorts of resources, related links on the show notes, which you can find by going to the website, notthathardtohomeschool.com, and clicking on Podcast in the top menu, and then search for Episode 90, and you will find all those links there. I will certainly link to the article that I mentioned at the beginning. That will be at the very top of the related resources on the show notes there.
If you want more about communicating with your teen, there’s an entire chapter in my book called Save Your Sanity While Homeschooling High School about talking with teens. There’s that alliteration again. It gives lots of ideas for bolstering that relationship back up if it’s having trouble or just maintaining a good one. I would recommend you find that. It’s also on the website under the Shop item of the top menu. Have a great day today and a great weekend and I will see you next time. Thanks for being here.
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022
- Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen? - November 4, 2022
- Episode 89: Kristin Moon’s Homeschool Experience — Do’s and Don’ts for High School - October 21, 2022