By Contributing Writer, Terry Covey
Our family’s style of raising responsible adults may be unique to many of you. We strongly believe that a college education is not the only avenue to success for an adult. Now don’t faint! Please read on. We have proof!
None of our children have attended college, and yet, they are highly educated and qualified in the particular field they are working in – plus they make good incomes. Of course, if their area of interest required a college education (law, medicine, etc.) then we would definitely support that need. But there are many careers where experience and education can still be gained in a manner similar to apprenticeship.
Our approach for growing children into adults has developed over the years. We never intentionally worked out this plan. But life has proven that it works! You can read my post on Constructing Successful Adults here.
Simply put, we provide lots of opportunities for our children to experience, learn, practice, and problem solve in numerous areas of interest. Some of those interests are ours personally, some are their siblings, and some come from their own curiosity.
When adding them all up, we’ve had (and still do have!) a busy life filled with lots of activities and projects for them to experience. Then they can choose what it is they really like to do, and what it is they don’t ever want to do again! And from here they can move on to gaining more knowledge and experience by working with others or starting their own business.
An example of this was when we got out of debt by selling our ‘dream’ home to buy a two bedroom, fixer-upper, complete with a certified organic orchard. Now I do believe that God has a sense of humor. He proved it when we found out I was expecting our ninth child in the midst of this all! (note the number of bedrooms!)
We pretty much gutted that old house, and over a year’s time, rebuilt and doubled its size. The first summer we canned 400 quarts of fruit and began selling at a local farmer’s market.
Overall we learned: backhoe operation, concrete and foundation work, framing, plumbing, carpentry, stucco, roofing, carpet and tile laying, irrigation, farming, management, marketing, selling, and the list goes on! One comment I remember vividly when our project was nearing completion, was when my son claimed, “I know what I don’t want to do when I grow up – stucco!”
Face Your Fears!
Not every family will have the resources to provide all these opportunities, but there are numerous ways to provide experiences in any number of categories. Just be open to the possibilities! Listen for God’s direction and don’t be afraid to try something new. Fear stifles creativity. Fear of failure. Fear of going against the flow. Fear of being inadequate. And the list goes on.
Here’s our real-life illustration of how fear inhibits us and our opportunities. Several years ago we made a move that was out of step with God, and rather than relying on Him, we turned inward. Our ‘mistake’ made us afraid to try new things.
In the many years of insecurity that followed, we’ve seen a distinct difference in what our younger children have been able to learn and experience. Fear takes the fun out of life and the chance to experience new challenges, which offer many opportunities for us all to mature!
How great is our God Who asks us to step out in faith, both for our good and for that of our children.
But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. If they were all one member, where would the body be? But now there are many members, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12: 18-20
Real Life Examples From Our Home Educating Family
As our sons and daughters work alongside us as we manage our home and raise our family, it allows them to excel and gain experience in numerous areas of interest. So much of who they are and what they do best is learned in our home. They learn the foundational ideas of responsibility, character, perseverance, relationships, duty…all of which add up to maturity.
So – are we capable of raising responsible adult children?
After 21 years of home education and asking myself that question often, I can offer you hope with some examples from our family.
Shayna, 31, gained much experience being my right hand gal as I ran our home, but also from tagging along while I assisted our local midwives. This experience helped her decide to invest the time and energy to apprentice and train to become a licensed midwife (Simply Classic Midwifery Care).
Jessie, 29, is a homemaker. She has a ‘math brain’ and always enjoyed working with numbers and finding great deals for our family. She uses her accounting and management skills to help her husband maintain a frugal lifestyle, which enables him to grow and learn in his field of work.
Our oldest son, Cameron, 27, has always loved working on computers, so that became his ‘thing’ in our family. He was our computer tech. He researched the best equipment and solutions to our problems and purchased accessories and computers to make our home life easier. He has worked for Institute for Excellence in Writing for the last four years as Manager of Information Systems, where he is constantly acquiring more knowledge and experience.
Our second son, Spencer, 25, loved to create and build since he was young, so we provided various tools and materials for him to work with. We remodeled our homes, allowing him to learn and practice many new skills along the way. He watched contractors work in their field of expertise to discover how and why they did what they did. (He’s the one who didn’t want to do stucco!) He is now a qualified and experienced independent contractor (Covey Construction) in the Houston area.
Lydia, 22, is a professional harpist, having dreamed of playing since she was a young girl. She has built a successful business, with initial help from us in providing her first harp, lessons, and chaperoning her first gigs! She has since paid off her $19,000 harp plus paid cash for both her Toyota Highlander and her education at Eric Ludy’s school, Ellerslie. (No, she won’t get a college degree at Ellerslie, but she is gaining a deep, abiding knowledge of God, and that is enough to bring success for a lifetime!)
And Sophie, 19, loves photography. She spent several years discouraged because she didn’t have a ‘bent’. She saw her siblings succeeding at what they loved, yet felt that God had left her out. But in His timing, He saw fit to reveal her artistic side. After taking classes in photography, she’s started a blog, Smile for Sophie, and a photography business using her talents.
So you can see – offering your children plenty of time to ‘practice’ working on their interests, allows them time to find their niche before they invest much time, money, and training for something they may not enjoy or be skilled at.
So Relax! There are many avenues to success as an adult.
God’s in charge. You provide the opportunities. He’ll take care of the rest!