What is it like being an older mom and homeschooling an only child?

by Karen Miller

I have heard women in their 30s and 40s say they are too old to have children, or say, “I am done having children.”Some doctors become anxious when women in their mid to late 40s walk into their offices pregnant. My hope is that my story will break this stereotype.

My husband and I had prayed for a child from the time we got married, trusting that God would grant our request in His time. Finally, at age 45, I became pregnant but miscarried. It was heartbreaking. One year later, I became pregnant again, and we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. However, the time between finding out I was pregnant and giving birth was filled with many challenges, most of which were created by doctors.

The first doctor I went to told me to find another doctor when I told him my age, and that I wanted a natural birth. Shortly after that, a girlfriend of mine recommended a Christian doctor who had previously had two different patients in their late 40s and pregnant for the first time have twins. Then we moved. My new doctor and his staff were nervous and wanted to run a barrage of tests if I did not deliver on their anticipated due date. When I told them I did not want intrusive testing, they offered to pay for the tests themselves. In the end, God prevailed; no additional tests were needed, as my beautiful, healthy daughter was born at 11:35 a.m.

Our experience with our daughter’s birth became an encouragement to other women in their 30s. A friend of ours had a daughter who was in her 30s. She and her friends believed the lie that they were too old to have children. In response to this, our friend would pull out a picture he had of my daughter when she was four and tell the women that the mother was 46 when she had her first child. He would then correct their perception that they themselves were too old and would emphasize that our daughter was bright and healthy and that I had given birth naturally.

Shortly after our daughter was born, I joined a homeschool group. Back in the early ‘90s, homeschooling was not so well known. However, one of our pastors was homeschooling his child. This, along with the fact that my husband had had a disastrous experience with the public school system, helped us decide before our daughter was born that homeschooling was for us. I made the decision to leave an executive position with a fortune 500 company so I could raise my daughter and she could grow up in the countryside.

I brought my daughter with me everywhere I went. People would comment on how different she behaved from other children while we were shopping and also commented on her good manners. I would tell them that I was homeschooling her. My husband’s parents initially questioned our decision to homeschool, but they noticed how well behaved she was and began to speak praises when they saw how polite she could be. We became a witness for homeschooling.

Homeschooling an only child

People often wonder what it is like to homeschool an only child. Of course they ask “What about socialization?”When you have multiple children, you can respond that they have other children within the family to socialize with. But having an only child is another story, even though a family, in my opinion, constitutes a social unit. Add to that living in the country where no other houses are even visible from your own house, and homeschooling an only child becomes even more intense.

I admit I have felt, at times, that it would be easier to homeschool more than just one child. With one, you do not save money by passing things down from one child to another. An only child will not have the opportunity to help teach younger ones, which reinforces their own learning. Interactive questions do not come up in a discussion. You do not have the benefit of a “built-in” playmate or babysitter or “more hands” to help with the work.

But, of course, with only one child, there is less work to do. You also tend to be very protective, since you only have one arrow to shoot out into the world. You may find you are prone to do too much for your one child. On the flip side, you can dedicate more time and attention to them and participate in more activities.

These are my favorite responses to people’s questions about socialization and homeschooling: There are co-ops where homeschool families get together. We, like other families, go to dance class, gymnastics, church, and other activities where there are children. A homeschooled child has more time to socialize since she is not waiting in line several times a day to go to the bathroom, lunch, recess, or line up for the bus, and ride up to one hour each way to and from school. She also does not have to wait for other students to get out their pencils and books or wait for others to catch up with her on the assignments. She can go at her own pace. If she excels in one subject, and not another, she can be in sixth grade in that one subject and third grade in another. With homeschooling, you are in charge of your child’s education, not some distant bureaucrat.

High school and college

What about homeschooling through high school and being accepted into to college? More options are available now than just eight years ago. There are many online dual credit opportunities, dual credit at community colleges, and more co-ops for homeschool students than ever before. As far as getting into college, many colleges are seeking homeschoolers because they know they are usually more disciplined, more mature, and better educated. Homeschoolers are much more readily accepted now than just a few years ago. There is often a check box for “homeschooled” on college forms.

This brings up the subject of academic scholarships. While not a problem at two different schools, I would recommend taking the SAT or ACT tests, as many colleges look at those scores for admittance and scholarships, along with the high school transcript. At the first school my daughter attended, they looked at the SAT or ACT score along with the parent-prepared transcript grade average. When she transferred to the second school, they only looked at her GPA from her previous college.

So, what is it like being in my late 60s with a child in college? The joy of having a wonderful daughter is still there. I feel she keeps us young. We enjoy going to her activities and are still very blessed by her. How does she feel about having“older parents”? She knows that she was an answer to prayer and does not look at us as being old―she simply sees us as her loving, supportive Mom and Dad.

I believe the bottom line is that children are from the Lord (Ps.127:3). Whether we are young or old, or if He blesses us with one or He blesses us with many, He gives us the strength and wisdom for each child He gives to us. “My strength comes from the Lord” (Ex. 15:2, Ps 28:7, Ps 118:14). God’s Word is true yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God is good―all the time. Obey His Word and the rewards are great, now and forever.

Biographical Information

Karen S. Miller has had executive positions with two Fortune 500 Companies. She gave up her lucrative job to homeschool her daughter. She is now President and Founder of Applied Inspirations, LLC that develops, manufactures, and markets Hands-on Electronics Curriculums and kits. You can go to www.AppliedInspirations.com for more information.

Copyright, 2015. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, 2015 Print Edition. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.