his life anymore, and that translated into
freedom for both of us.
School Became Important
After this trip, my son’s interest in school
changed. He took school more seriously,
and wanted more control over what classes
he took. Though he was only sixteen, I
stepped aside and let him have his own way.
I enrolled him in online college courses. I
learned not to question him about his work.
I simply awaited the end of the semester report card to see how he’d done. Indeed, he
put in the effort needed to earn the grades
he wanted: A’s and B’s.
Then, for his senior year of high school,
he was so completely on his own with his
schedule and school work, I enrolled him
in college more than 200 miles from home
under our state’s free dual enrollment program. It was time for
him to move out and
take even more responsibility. He moved in
with his brother on the
college campus to complete his senior year. The
budgeting he’d learned
in Europe also came in
handy as he navigated
living on a tight budget
He graduated from
high school last May
with 39 college credits
and a 3. 6 GPA. He’s making straight A’s
during his first “official” year of college. A
child who once had the habit of doing the
bare minimum was transformed. Being on
his own gave him a sense of personal ownership of his destiny—and a deeper insight
and wisdom about the world and his place
Self-Awareness and Insight
As a homeschooler who lived in the same
area his entire life, my son’s knowledge and
understanding of the world was obviously
limited. In the hostels where he stayed during his trip, he had to share rooms with
traveling strangers from all over the world.
He met people who jarred him out of the
assumption that everyone’s life was essentially like his.
He met a Canadian college professor
The Right Choice
traveling the world with no end or destina-
tion in mind. He had long discussions with
a German group about their perspective
on life and Americans. He engaged with
street vendors who complained about the
rich. He gained a wiser perspective, in-
sight that grew his self-awareness coupled
with cultural awareness. He finally came
to understand his unique place in this
giant world, and the privilege of his life.
With these and many other encounters,
he grew in his compassion for cultural dif-
ferences, for poverty, and for people. He
learned to see the world through the eyes
of wisdom and insight far beyond his age.
So, there you have it. I sent my son on an unknown adventure as an aggravated teen, and
he came back a responsible, and thoroughly
pleasant adult. I prayed day and night for
him. I knew God was watching over him,
even as he slept outside on a bench in a foreign city. Even when I had no contact with
him because he lost his
phone. Even when I despaired that he’d make a
muck of it. I knew God
loved him far more than
I ever could. I knew He
had led us in this direction. I had to trust God.
And He, as always, was
In the end, I realized a
most valuable truth: my
son is capable. He has the
ability to survive in this
world. He has the tools to
overcome adversity, to manage his life without help, and he now knows what it’s like out
there. He also knows what he wants from
life. He walks with a confidence, a surety,
and a conviction that I don’t think would
have been possible before this adventure.
It’s hard to step aside and let those boys
be men. But when we do, we discover God’s
got them in the palm of His hand.
Jeannie Fulbright, homeschool mother
and Certified Life Coach, is the author
of Apologia’s Young Explorer science series, and the upcoming Roadmap to College and Career Planner for students to
plan and prosper through high school. You
can find Jeannie on Facebook, Instagram,
Pinterest and her website www.Jeannie
Fulbright.com, where she offers encouragement and counsel to homeschool parents .
He met people who
jarred him out of
the assumption that
everyone’s life was
essentially like his.