As a boy, Orville Wright was expelled from elementary school for mischievous behavior. Nevertheless, he and his older brother, Wilbur, were successful entrepreneurs with their own printing press by ages fifteen and seventeen. Both favored working with their hands over formal education. Obsessed with the prospect of flight, the middle sons of Milton and Susan Wright opened a bike shop and began tinkering with bicycles and small engines.
The Wright brothers were determined to achieve flight but challenged by the stagnate weather conditions in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. To compensate, they successfully built a wind tunnel for their flight simulations. While aeronautical engineers would focus on achieving manned flight by building more powerful engines, the Wright brothers believed that agility of the aircraft and consistent, controlled maneuverability through the wind were the keys.
At thirty-four, Wilbur confessed to Orville that he did not think they would see an airplane fly for fifty years. Just two years later, the two would stand on the dunes at Kitty Hawk with their patented flying machine and successfully fly and land the aircraft for the first time in history. How the first aviators’ hearts must have soared when they replicated their effort three more times that day and then drove home with their skeletal airplane completely unscathed! Can you imagine how proud Mr. and Mrs. Wright must have been when the brothers arrived back home with the news?
“Mom. Dad. We did it!”
After watching twenty years of sketches, revisions, and failed prototypes, and after realizing their sons would never attend college, get regular jobs, or marry, I wonder how Milton and Susan Wright felt as the parents of inventors.
Were the Wrights met by naïve well-wishers who believed artists create for vainglory? Did the family face naysayers, skeptics, and scoffers? I cannot help but think that homeschooling parents today face the same challenges in rearing tomorrow’s inventors, creators, philosophers, and artists. In every generation, pioneers who dare to step outside the norm are going to face doubters and critics. How will we respond?
I have friends whose son is musically gifted in a major way; they laugh, now, at how he kept them on their toes in the early years! Likewise, I work with someone whose genius cannot be hidden, and I have had the privilege of spending time with his parents. If you are homeschooling a gifted child, here are a few things I have observed that these wise parents have in common:
- They are not impressed by what the world promises. They are Christ-centered. They keep their minds fixed on what is eternal (things above) and not on what is temporary (earthly things). They weigh every decision with how it will affect their family’s commitments to God, one another, and their church. They are not enticed to trade what can never be lost (their relationship to God and one another) for things that can be lost, stolen, or destroyed (worldly success).
- They are courageous. A burning bush, marching and singing to tear down the walls of a city, a talking donkey… let’s be honest: Being led by God looks different. It takes courage. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8) The world says that there is a formula to follow if you’re going to be successful, and they define successful as achieving power, money, comfort, and fame. It takes courage to say those are not your goals. It takes courage to say you are following a better plan, even if you don’t exactly know where that plan is going.
- They are flexible. Loosely holding on is easier said than done. Wise parents trust God’s voice above all others. They trust God through the times their children are learning to trust God’s voice for themselves, even in times where they can foresee an obstacle that the children have not recognized. Wise parents pray for the discernment to know when to speak and when to be still and know that God is God. They understand that they will cheat their families out of experiencing God’s miracles if they default to operating as though the facts we know and see today in the natural realm are all there is.
- They are supportive. It is one thing to say, “Win or lose, we are here for you.” It is another thing to lovingly support a child who has chosen to hang out with losers, or who has taken an honest risk and lost. I have watched wise parents extend grace upon grace when children have acted out of pride. God’s Word gently reminds: Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound! (Romans 5:20) The Lord is a loving Father who is slow to anger, filled with unfailing love, forgiving every kind of sin and rebellion. (Numbers 14:18)
In instances where their children’s earnest tries simply weren’t enough, some parents encourage their children to persevere in their God-given callings, while others help their children pick up the pieces and move on to something else. There is comfort in trusting that God will direct our child’s path as well as our efforts in parenting, and I am thankful God has given me the privilege of learning in the company of wise parents who rest in that knowledge!