What is Happening to My Child? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 5)

Life is really a mystery. I know that there are people who think that they know all about it, but do they really? I have some ideas based on a lot of experience about what life is, but I could never say I am clear about it. I know that it officially starts at birth and ends at death, but I am more inclined to believe that birth and death are but transitions that change the environment, maybe, but not life itself.

There is another transition in life that, in my opinion, is a very big “event” in everybody’s life. It is a transition that sees a lot of changes take place, in spirit, soul, and body, yet while children go through it, most people do not give it a great deal of thought, simply observing that changes are quietly taking place.

In many ways, it is a metamorphosis. It is really the dying of the child, if you will, and the corresponding birthing of the adult. By now you likely understand that I am talking about puberty.

Puberty may not be as dramatic as the changing of a caterpillar to a butterfly, but there are many similarities. The butterfly is actually the same creature as the caterpillar. It has the same genetic makeup even if it looks different and now lives with a different function.

Similarly, a child does not change in genetics or character as much as being transformed from a little boy to a young man or from being a little girl to a young lady. Their “persons” are mostly unchanged, even if it may seem at times that they are not the same persons!

No doubt this transition can, at times, be a bit traumatic for both the child and the parents. This is especially the case when children are forced to go through puberty surrounded by others experiencing the same thing, which is the case when going to school.

I realize that I am revealing a deep bias, but common sense should help you understand that this is when children need adult company to help transition into the adult world. This is the worst possible time for peer counselling as all of them are “going through” rather than “having gone through” puberty.

When a child goes through puberty while being educated at home, the transition is much easier because this is a difficult time that requires a steady positive influence that only full time parents can provide. Their unconditional love is essential to help children walk through the transition. Indeed, it is best when parents can walk through it with them, 24 hours a day.

Although puberty may be confusing, even challenging, at times, parents must remind themselves that as these former children become adults, they have to change their parenting techniques in keeping with this transition. Adults should be treated as … adults, yet keeping in mind that they are still in transition, lacking experience and wisdom!

Having taught in grades seven and eight where children are collectively going through puberty, I was often reminded that this is where school really fails. The school insists on continuing to treat them as children, usually only respecting the “adulthood” of the child when he or she has demonstrated the ability to behave as he or she has been directed.

A family normally has only one child going through puberty at a time. Thankfully, God mercifully avoided the possibility of parents having 20 or so children going through puberty at the same time, like what you see in school!

While parents may have protected the children as they trained them, they now must focus more on preparing the adults as they teach them. The father’s role becomes even more important here as it is his job to validate these children as men or women. This is not the time for absenteeism, if it can be avoided.

The first concern raised at this secondary level is mostly associated with puberty. The question is, when are they ready to begin learning at the secondary level? The best answer is still the simplest answer, which is when they are ready, even though the school may have the starting point set at 15 years of age.

Within a home education setting, when students start taking responsibility for themselves and their education or when they begin demonstrating signs of self-motivation, they will begin working more at the secondary level. This usually occurs much earlier than within a school environment, often resulting in home educated students having completed the secondary phase of their education before their school counterparts begin it.

By this time in your home education journey, you have likely dealt with all or most of your primary fears and concerns, but as previously mentioned, with any new venture comes new fears and concerns. Puberty is most certainly a new venture in parenting, so it comes with a new set of fears and concerns, especially with the oldest child who, unfortunately, is the experimental child of the family!