If you have grown-up children, then you know that maintaining a healthy
relationship with them can be tricky at times. How can you navigate that transition
with ease and grace? Our guest Gina Smith has the answer on today’s
Homeschool Heartbeat. Now here’s your host, Mike Smith.
Mike Smith: I’m joined today by Gina Smith.
She’s an author, blogger, and former homeschool mom of two
children who are now grown up. Gina, welcome to the program.
Gina Smith: Thank you, Mike. I’m honored to be
Developing positive relationships [0:30]
Mike: Well, thank you. Gina, why did you and your husband
actually decide to homeschool your children?
Gina: Actually, I just look back and I see how God led us
very clearly to homeschool. When I was in college, I actually wrote a paper
against homeschooling. It was in the 80s, and homeschooling wasn’t quite as
accepted or popular then. So, I had all the answers to why homeschooling was not good
for your family or your children.
And then, about my third year in college, I was mentored by a godly woman who
actually homeschooled her children. And as I spent time in her home, and I
observed the relationship she had with her children, the relationship that her
husband had with the children, and also to see children that actually enjoyed
learning, it really opened my eyes and it caused me to long for that dynamic in my
own home one day.
And then, after my husband and I got married and had our own children, we found
ourselves living in an area of Maryland that had the second worst school system
in Maryland. So we couldn’t imagine sending our little ones into the school
system. So I believe that those years spent in my mentor’s home actually were
preparing me to be open to God’s calling on our family to homeschool.
Mike: So let me ask you this question: Now you’re
through with homeschooling—looking back, what’s the greatest
benefit—or what did you really like about your homeschooling experience?
Gina: I loved having the relationship with my kids. We had
the flexibility and the time spent with them where we could just really pour into
their lives. We could stop if they were having a hard day and do what needed to be
done, and . . . Yeah. That’s what I loved about homeschooling.
And then, after homeschooling, what I love is again the relationships. We were
able to build such strong relations with our kids, and I just really love who they
are as adults and enjoy them. And then, of course, my relationship with my
husband; I’m able to spend a lot more free time with him, so I love that
about after homeschooling.
Mike: See, I think that really should be the objective of
homeschooling—is that through it all, we develop relationships with our
children that last a lifetime, and they’re positive relationships. Because so
many parents don’t have positive relationships with their children.
Homeschoolers have a tremendous opportunity to nurture that
relationship because of the time. On the other hand, there’s
a tremendous challenge not to mess it up because we have so much
So you did it right.
Life after homeschooling [2:52]
Mike: Gina, what have you been doing since your kids
graduated? Is there really life after homeschooling?
Gina: Well, there certainly is life after homeschooling.
Actually, I’m really enjoying the fact that I’m not the teacher anymore,
and that I can just focus on being a mom and their friend. And it’s also opened
up a lot of fun doors as far as ministry opportunities: I’m able to write a lot
more and I was actually able to write my very first book, which I don’t think
personally I could have done while homeschooling. So yes, there’s definitely
life after homeschooling.
Mike: What’s your book about?
Gina: It’s a book, actually, about relationships with
your children. I observed a couple of wonderful examples, when my children were
young, of moms who were building relationships with their children. And my book is
called, Grace Gifts: Celebrating Your Children Everyday. And it’s
basically written about what I observed: learning to show your children grace,
allowing them to be in a process of learning and growing on God’s timetable,
not ours as parents. And then I give a lot of examples of what God has led
us to do as a family to celebrate our children like God celebrates us, and to show
them the grace that God pours out on us every day, and just learning to tune into
them, and to walk with them and be their cheerleader.
Mike: Well, what a tremendous subject to write a book
Avoiding burnout [4:20]
Mike: Gina, homeschooling parents are some of
the most dedicated people in the world. They pour themselves into their
children’s lives and education, but sometimes that dedication can leave them
feeling drained and even depressed when their children leave the nest. How can
parents keep from burning out at the end of their homeschooling journey?
Gina: Wow, that is probably one of the most important things to
talk about it. And my husband and I did go through a season of burnout, and when I
look back over those years the two things that come to mind are again,
relationships—nurturing your relationship with your spouse. My husband and I
found ourselves at a crisis point several years ago and we realized that we had been
so consumed with parenting, homeschooling, and daily life that nurturing our
relationship had moved pretty low on our list of priorities. So, thankfully during
that difficult season, some friends of ours took time to begin meeting with
us weekly, and they helped us sift through why we were burning out and that helped us
to move forward.
And then the second is nurturing friendships and being involved with people
outside of our home. Another reason my husband and I struggled with burnout was
because we had been in some circumstances for several years [where] we had very
little fellowship or outside encouragement, and it just wore us out. I don’t
believe God meant for us to live life alone. And it’s important to have a
support system and to engage in times of fellowship and to make time to serve
But I think even more than trying to keep yourself from burning out, which is very
important—I think the even more important message is that God wants to use our
marriages and families for his purposes, and our marriages and families reflect
God’s image and can be used to point others to him. We are here to be a light
to this dark world and to offer living water to those who need Jesus. So, by keeping
ourselves from burning out, we actually glorify God.
Mike: Amen, and it, kind of, sounds like
you got back to priorities didn’t you? It was God, and then you and your
Gina: Yes, we just had people come along side us and we just kept
praying that God would knit our hearts together as a couple and he has done that
A tricky transition [6:25]
Mike: Gina, one of the hardest transitions for parents is
when their children grow up and become independent adults. Do you have any advice for
parents who are trying to make that transition while still maintaining a healthy
relationship with their children?
Gina: Well, I’m actually currently in the middle of
that transition still, so I am continuing to learn how to walk through it. But what
I’m finding now is that I really enjoy no longer being responsible for their
education. It frees me up to focus on just being their mom and their friend. And I
also find that they do still need me—only in a different way. I’m needed
more now for stability to make our house a home for them and their friends to come to
and to be a source of input if they need it.
And it’s a good thing that my children are taking steps that are leading
them to becoming more and more independent, but it’s also a scary time for
them, I think. They can be unsure of themselves, there can be insecurities, and I
want to be their biggest support system and cheerleader. So, I’m intentionally
learning how to relate to them as adults, which requires less mothering and more
listening and just being there. And that, as a mom, can be tricky at times, and I am
certainly not perfect at it, but mostly it’s just very enjoyable and really
freeing for me when I focus on not mothering but just being available.
Focus & priorities [7:41]
Mike: Gina, what is your favorite part of life after
Gina: There’s a couple things I can think of. Well,
first of all, I love that my husband and I have large blocks of time to spend alone
together. [It’s] almost like before we had children, but it’s even
better. And the other thing that I love is being available to young moms from our
church or who I happen to know from different arenas. I love having them over, I love
loving on their 2-year-olds and just spending time with them, talking to them and
encouraging them. And that’s something that I try to do on a regular basis. And
I also have enjoyed doing some ministry with my husband with a young married group.
So basically, I just feel like I have a little more free time to just build into the
lives of others.
Mike: Okay, this question has to do with the homeschoolers
that are listening out there—homeschooling parents. If there is one thing you
could tell them, that you think would be most beneficial to them, what would it
Gina: There are so many important things. I think that one
of the most important things is that it’s really easy to take our freedom to
educate our children for granted. And I’m really so grateful that I live in a
country where I was able to make that choice and that there were several options to
I would encourage parents to keep in mind that each schooling option will have its
weaknesses, and it’s important to prayerfully evaluate each option and be aware
of any potential challenges that might come with the option we choose and then plan
accordingly. I would encourage parents to ask God to help them to see if their child
ever reaches a point that the schooling option they have chosen isn’t a good
fit or if there is something He wants to accomplish in them that can only happen in
I loved, loved, loved that I was able to homeschool and I can’t imagine
doing anything else because that was God’s calling for my family. But I’m
reminded of Philippians 2:13, that says: “For it is God who works in you, both
to will and to work for His good pleasure.” And just like it is God who works
in me as a parent, He also is the one who works in our children. And I think that it
is very important to remember that our hope and confidence should be in God alone and
not in a schooling or parenting method.
Mike: Well, Gina, thank you so much for sharing that with us
this week. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a pleasure to get to know
you. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.