I just linked from Spunky Homeschool to a very long but insightful article by Reb Bradley entitled “Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling.” In summary, many homeschooling parents who thought they had done “everything right” are finding that their children have not held their (parents’) values after leaving the nest. The parents are not only stunned, but troubled and confused as to what they must have “done wrong,” which brought about this result. In this article, the author offers his analysis of the situation, including some soul-searching about his own parenting decisions and style.
We are about to begin our fourteenth year as homeschoolers. Over the years I’ve both experienced and witnessed a lot of the parenting styles and beliefs so common to our breed (homeschooling parents). If I had to point my finger at two of the most prevalent but misguided ideas held by the homeschooling mother, they would be guilt, and a tendency to over-emphasize our role in what our children will “become.” If your child were in public school and didn’t get into the college of his choice or make a fantastic score on the SAT, would you blame his teachers? Probably not. However, a homeschooling mother will blame herself for these things.
The problem is, there’s a flip-side to that coin. If we’re willing to blame ourselves for our children’s failures, then conversely we’re likely to pat our own backs (read: puff up with pride) when they succeed. Does the child take credit for anything? And more importantly, does God? God has a unique “plan” for your child, and you’re not going to make it happen or mess it up. It’s between that child and Him, not you, and it probably isn’t going to fit into your time table, either. Maybe your child didn’t get into the college of his dreams because it really wasn’t the best environment for him. Maybe God had a plan and a purpose for him somewhere else.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Face it: we are not the ones in control of or responsible for what our children will become or achieve, or not achieve, for that matter. They may flounder; I certainly did. What we are responsible for is doing the best that we can to love that child, and to educate him. Show him his utter dependence on God (not himself or man). You can’t do it by beating him over the head with it; let him see it in your own life. Model God’s unconditional love to him – that’ something the world isn’t going to offer – and be ready to catch him if he needs it.
I’ve seen some things this summer that could have disillusioned me and shaken my faith in the homeschool community, only my faith isn’t in the homeschool community. It’s in God and His son. People are fallible. He isn’t. We homeschool because we believe it is what is best and right for our family. Once we start to believe we are producing “model Christians” or that our kids will turn out better than their non-homeschooled friends, we are doomed to disappointment and failure because we’ve turned it into being about us and our expectations. The Lord knows the big picture, and it may be years in the making.