Sunday, July 8, 2018

Moms Worry Too Much - part 4: homeschooling

Today I really feel like I need to return to a series I wrote a few years ago and continue it: Moms Worry Too Much. You can find the first three installments, plus another piece of the series by clicking the links below

Part 1 - not doing enough
Part 2 - perfection: housework and schoolwork
Part 3 - money
What About When Life Happens

Mom worry, home education, worry versus fear

Today I want to address a topic I have heard worried comments about too many time to count: homeschooling. I hear Moms worrying about this all the time. THIS HAS TO STOP. God has granted you those precious, yet precocious children for such a short time, do not squander it!

I have always felt incredibly blessed that God would allow us to home educate our girls, because it meant we got to be the biggest influences in their lives. It has always been hard work, but it is worthwhile, praise-worthy work because while I was overseeing our daughters' education, God was teaching me! Some people do not feel like being a parent is a blessing. How sad they must be.

Let me tell you a few things I've heard over the years about homeschooling, feel free to cringe about some of them. Then let God speak to your heart and see if you need to let go of your own worry about homeschooling.

When our girls were very young, I worked at a gym in the child care area. Over and over I would get questions from the members about when our oldest would be going to school. When I told them we were homeschooling, way too often I heard this response "Oh, I could never spend that much time with my kids, they would drive me crazy!"

WHAT??? You had kids but you don't want to spend time with them? 

(Yes, I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut, but these thoughts went through my mind...) How could your children have gotten to the point by ages 6 or 7 that you cannot spend two hours with them before they get on your nerves? Aren't YOU the parent? Have you ever parented them? Do they not know how to receive instruction, or are you just too lazy to get off your couch and correct them for being mouthy, disobedient, lazy? How do you expect to be able to parent them as teens if you won't even parent them as young children?

The year Emily turned 7 or 8 she asked me what the line in "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" meant when Bing Crosby sang "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again." She didn't understand why the parents would want to send their kids away.

Here is another line I hear too often about homeschooling "Oh, but what about socialization?" 

Oh please! Spare me! Like I would want my five year old to spend all day around other five year olds and learn how to be subversive, disobedient, and mean. Five years olds are inherently selfish. (We all are, but five years olds can be some of the worst, because they think they're still cute enough no one will notice they're being greedy, or at least they hope they're cute enough no one will discipline them for purposefully doing wrong.) 

And back to the ACTUAL socialization aspect of being able to talk to other people. Have you ever MET my kids? They do just fine! Because they were allowed to talk to and interact with people of various ages, they still talk to people of all ages - without fear. They learned how to be respectful of their elders, but not afraid to ask questions. They learned how to be sensitive to the needs of younger children, without talking down to them. Our daughters are actually nice people to be around. And even if someone DOES get on their nerves, you might never know because they have been taught that if they don't have anything nice to say, keep your mouth closed. Would it not be a nicer world if we only said kind things and treated each other as valuable human beings? I think so!

A big issue with homeschooling is the tendency to get cliquish. Too many parents ( Moms especially) worry that if their homeschooled children make friends outside of the homeschooling community that they will want to become rebels, stop homeschooling and leave home, making the parents look bad. 

Enough already! Homeschooling is NOT some exclusive club to which I belong and you are not invited! 

Far from it. I know that we were called to homeschool our daughters, but not everyone is. The decisions you make about the education of your children need to be between you and God (and your spouse). If public school works for your family - great - be involved, go for it! If private school or a charter school works best - choose that, but still be daily involved in the lives of your children. If you're choosing to homeschool - welcome to the party - hang on for the wildest years of your life are just beginning. You will learn more from homeschooling than your children will. Some of it will be about your own character - and you may not like it - but God can use those revelations to prune you into the parent He wants you to be. So wherever you educate your children, let's choose to support one another, let's love on each other, and let's cheer for other parents, because parenthood by itself is difficult enough without any cliques!

Another thing that bugs me about homeschooling Moms is their need to have others validate their choices. I know, I know, I've probably done the same thing over the years, so please forgive me! What I mean is this thread that I often read in online groups or hear at conventions: " Well, I've got a writing course and a literature course for Johnny, do you think I need to add in a spelling curriculum or grammar too?" I respond with something like "how old is he?" and the response is usually "Oh, he will be in second grade this fall."

Once again...WHAT???

These are children. You know, kids, of the non-goat variety. They need love and affection, they need someone to read to them, or with them. They might be ready to start learning to read by themselves by second grade. They don't need rushed, and they definitely don't need ten kinds of curriculum for second grade.

I've met a lot of homeschoolers over the years. Some excel at math, some at the arts. Some are excellent at Karate or baking, and some just excel at being themselves. All of those are wonderful options! Out of the hundreds of homeschooling kids I have had the privilege to interact with, a few could have been stars at MIT, just a few. But a bunch more are great at acting, or problem solving. Many are good at encouraging others, and most of them have a wonderful if not somewhat quirky sense of humor. They make me laugh - often! Almost all of them think outside the box, so they are creative in all their endeavors. Many of them are great at sports, or public speaking, or textiles like sewing or spinning. Sometimes they go to big name colleges, other times they get an equivalent degree from a local school and start their job search at 19 or 20. All of them are precious, wonderfully made human beings. And although I know a few of them excelled early at math or languages - I don't remember having conversations with their moms about grammar for second grade.

So stop worrying - your children have time to grow and mature. If you thought a public school style education best for them - maybe you should have just put them on the big yellow bus. Most of us homeschooling our children are doing this to give them something different than the education we ourselves got in the public school.

Moms, when you are looking for validation from strangers about your education choices for your children, it might not just be worry - it might be fear pushing you. 

Do NOT allow fear to be your guide.

Oh dear Mom who is struggling - do not give in to fear. 

When you place your eyes on only what you can do, fear is crouching there waiting to tell you that you have failed. But when you put your eyes on Jesus - He tells you over and over again that you are loved, that you are cherished, and that HE is enough for all of your needs!

I want you to watch this video by Zach Williams and listen to the words. Really listen. Then pray and ask God to show you your fears, and your worries. Give them over to God, and let go. God can and will heal you.

Remember - you are loved!


  1. so so true. We need to worry so much less, and trust our kids and ourselves more. :)

  2. I love this. I've talked to a lot of those moms too and have had the same responses swirling in my head. Yes, the temptation to worry is very strong, but God has given and will give us everything we need to do our homeschool mom job. As you said, don't give in to fear!

  3. Oh, man...that song follows me around. I think I hear it every night on the radio (my daughter and son both listen to K-love to go to bed).

    I love all the points you make and I hope that I will be as gracious when people start questioning my desire to homeschool more and more. Thank you.