Every day—often several times a day—he calls. Of course, I am thrilled! What mom isn’t overjoyed to hear the voice of a beloved 19-year-old son who is absolutely thriving in college?

Once they get to be over six feet tall, need to shave their beards, and have what has been nicknamed “twelve-pack abs” (without even trying, grrrrr), we mothers fear that we’ll seldom hear from our sons (or daughters, minus the beard shaving, of course), especially when they are attending college 1,327 miles away! (But who’s counting?)

But, the phone does ring—often—and I couldn’t be more grateful. The usual reason he calls? Because, he has a profound question about truth, just unearthed in his classes on history, economics, or literature, for example, or from his eager personal readings in philosophy and law. For, when he completes his college assignments, he spends his free time digging even deeper into the “great questions” that have been asked throughout human history.

It may be something of a marvel that this 19-year-old, outgoing, confident, athletic son’s favorite topics are life’s biggest questions, but we always probed deeply in our history studies and conversations. But an even greater marvel, in my opinion, is that he calls me, his mom, with those questions.

This is an unexpected reward! I mean, we moms hope for certain outcomes when we decide (or in my case, feel very strongly led) to home-educate. Some of these anticipated results, I’ve discovered, don’t occur, and we then realize that our plans for “insurance” bought via home-education aren’t always realistic.

Then, along comes a wonderful blessing that I hadn’t seen coming, and it is worth noting because it addresses a concern which I often hear in moms who dread the end of active connections with their children as they age, including the ideological and academic ties.

Turns out, the deeper we take our kids while we’re teaching them—not contenting ourselves with only superficial data-skimming or teaching to the test, but really diving into the richest wisdom at the deepest heart level (which conveniently locks in the knowledge anyway)—the more we share that probing in partnership.

Imagine that you’re running the Ironman Triathlon with your teen (a very imaginative leap, in my case) after years of training, day in, day out, through snow, sleet, rain, and the pleasantest of days too. Whom would this son or daughter call when later tackling a solo race? Would it not most likely be the person with whom they had last and longest trained for a similar endeavor?

So, as your children and young teens grow, and the subsequent chapters of their lives take them further and further from home, remember that one of the strongest threads to remain will have been woven from years of digging together into God’s truths, His surpassing plans, and the mysteries of His ways, especially in light of the oft-confusing vagaries of human history and those “great questions,” which do arise.

Doesn’t it seem that the deeper you probe while still together, the greater the potential that you remain their go-to person for the big stuff? So, this isn’t just sentimentality. Far from it!

Because as sweet as it may be, the even greater outcome is the continued opportunity to have input into their hearts, and minds as they become young adults, when they are under the most pressure from the culture to surrender their faith, to yield to the claimed “hopelessness” of finding truth in the face of suffering, to despair of seeing the Lord’s central love in the storms of human life, and right when the impact of their decisions is greatest on their own future and that of their soon-to-be new families.

So, don’t be too afraid, too busy, or too bogged down in details to go deep with your children/teens now. Instead, realize that you are creating a channel to your son’s and daughter’s hearts which will be of massive significance (and joy) at the most crucial phases of their lives—when they will need your love to help them realize God’s love is still real, even when they’re going through adult complexities, long after they have left your supper table. So, you are inputting now, and the rewards last forever!

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms.

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Michelle Miller Howard is a veteran home educator, author, columnist, speaker, consultant, and librarian who operates "living books" libraries in Michigan and Florida, the first-known of its type. Michelle graduated summa cum laude from the University of Alabama, has long served in local churches and educational groups, and now has seven cute grandsons!