“Your mental illness is not your identity. Your identity is in Christ” Kay Warren
There are a lot of things I never imagined saying, much less dealing with as I dreamt of having kids. As a Mom of a toddler, tweens and a teen, I just smile and shake my head often.
But if I’m honest, the least “thought about” or “planned for” in my parenting journey has been dealing with Homeschooling in the midst of mental illness and chronic health conditions.
Homeschooling in the Midst of Mental Illness
From the first moment I held my precious baby girl in my arms, I knew I would cherish her forever. I believed I would do my best to protect her from harm and I thought I could know how to be there for her in any situation. I would guard her and guide her all of her childhood. My arms would keep her safe… I thought.
By God’s grace, we have an amazing and special bond, and I still cherish her beyond words. But life hasn’t looked like the road I imagined. To get to where we are today has held many hard times.
My arms which once held that newborn and believed them to be her safety, have now held her back from hurting herself or others instead. That longing to know exactly how to be there for her has been surrendered. It looks much more like being there each step of the way by simply holding her as she cries or rubbing her back as I silently pray over her.
Mental illness is not something I ever thought possible for My child. And homeschooling in the midst of it? That was never “my plan”. Maybe it wasn’t your plan either Mom, and that’s ok.
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He has His ways that are not our own. Ways of bringing us through these things weren’t our plans. HE can give us strength through the afflictions that we would never choose for ourselves or our loved ones. He can provide wisdom, discernment, peace, comfort, and help during these trials. Even through mental illness.
The Staggering Statistics of Mental Illness
Because more and more children these days are suffering from mental illness, I believe it’s crucial to look at what it actually is. Mental illness is not something to brush off or that someone can “just stop” in most cases. And there are many causes. Current statistics show that one in five children will suffer from mental illness by age 18. That proves true within our 5 kiddos as well. If these stats continue to hold, you can see that it will affect you or someone you know or love.
If we seek to love others as Christ loves, then we can’t be dismissive of or ashamed about the topic of mental illness. There are many suffering and families that need help.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. In our family, we deal with anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Despite all of that, we’re able to homeschool in the midst of it.
Mom, if this sound like you, you are not alone. If you’re sitting here wondering how you can continue on, my prayer is that you find hope and encouragement today. I want to invite you to lay down the stigma, shame, and hopelessness at the foot of the cross starting now!
* My heart is to share with you some of the things that have helped us through the years. I am not a medical doctor. Just a Mom in the trenches with you.
Here 4 Tips to Help You Homeschool in the Midst of Mental Illness
Accept where you are
The first step in homeschooling in the midst of mental illness is to truly accept where you are at. For me, this took a long time. Mom, can I just say you can battle best for your child when you know what you are facing. Remember that God knows. He is not surprised. Ask Him for His help and to have an open heart. We have so many expectations wrapped up in our parenting that we need to submit to Him in order to accept our child’s mental illness, but it’s ok. He will give you strength. When you can accept your child’s mental illness and admit how it affects your family and your homeschool, you are setting yourself up for a more peaceful homeschooling year.
Understand your child
Take the time to learn about your child’s mental illness. At first, this will likely be from doctors or reading or studying online. But that isn’t only what I mean. God made each of us unique, a mental illness diagnosis doesn’t define your child. You need to pay attention to the way they were knit together. What affects your child internally and externally? What helps and what doesn’t?
I recommend journaling so you can more easily see patterns, hills, and valleys. Also because many types of mental illness intensify and lessen repeatedly over time. When you do the hard work of studying your child you will be able to homeschool more successfully. Understanding their learning style, most productive times of day and more along with that will help you focus on their strengths. You will also know better how to help them through their weaker areas.
Be flexible in your homeschool
For some, this will be easier than others. I had a very hard time with this at first (again letting go of those expectations). Two key areas I had to learn to be flexible in were our curriculum and schedule. Sometimes our curriculum would work well. Other times what was working well suddenly changed and we could not push through. We had to seek out other ways of teaching, exploring and learning together and loosen the more traditional way of schooling.
We also had to learn to take breaks and actually ended up schooling year-round in order to accommodate our situation best. Balance didn’t look like 50/50 every day, sometimes it looked like giving our all when she was doing well and taking breaks when not. This won’t look the same for you and Mom, it shouldn’t. Be flexible when homeschooling in the midst of mental illness whichever way works best for your family!
Find homeschool support
The last tip is so important when you’re homeschooling through mental illness. Find support. This could be your psychologist or community group at church. It could also be a homeschool co-op or online homeschool community like this. God has provided support for us in various seasons in so many different ways. It may not look like a “homeschool support group for children with mental illness” and that is ok. Just having other like-minded homeschooling Moms who will accept your family, pray for you and encourage you can make all the difference!
No matter what your homeschooling in the midst of mental illness looks like, don’t go it alone! Ask the Lord for help and a community of believers that can come alongside you in your journey. Don’t lose sight of the big picture when all seems to be closing in. You are giving your child such a gift and helping them gain a solid foundation to set them up for their best for years to come!
So, Mom, it’s your turn. Which of these tips are you going to focus on? Let us know in the comments below! Feel free to share a prayer request also, we would be honored to pray for you.
Jessica and I would love to have you join our Imperfect Moms Private Facebook Group for tips, faith, parenting and homeschool help, and encouragement! Also, download our FREE Mom’s Pockets Monthly Bible Study to get you grounded in God’s word!
This is day 25 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here!
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Lee is a Daily redeemed Christ follower, Wife of 20 yrs, Mom to 5 Treasures, an Unexpected Homeschooler and Avoider of Small Talk. She’s a Faith-Based Blogger + Lifetime Encourager who writes and creates over at Like Minded Musings. Her passion is to Encourage + Equip Christian Women and Tween Girls to Embrace Imperfect & Radiate Christ!