PSSST…….I HAVE A SECRET ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING!!
I have been homeschooling our kids for 29 years now. I still remember something I heard someone say in my 2nd year of teaching our kids. I was at a support group meeting, and this lady was attending for the first time. She was planning to take her kids out of public school and homeschool them. I told her that was great, and that there are many benefits to homeschooling. She replied: “I know! I have several friends who have been homeschooling, and all of them have really good kids, so that’s why I’m doing it. I want my kids to turn out good!” Have you ever thought that? I know I did!
And that brings me to my little secret…..
Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee that your kids will “turn out good!”
Many, many homeschool kids DO turn out good, and go on to follow and serve the Lord. However, it’s NOT because of the homeschooling. It’s easy to think that if we are following certain steps in our parenting, protecting our kids from the wrong influences, and seeing they are outwardly obedient, it guarantees they are going to stay true to the values we have taught them, and avoid significant struggles with sin. What we fail to remember is that they are individuals with a free will. Yes, we should teach them and train them in the ways of God, and teach them our values. However, we need to let go of the idea that a certain “formula” guarantees good kids! Often, we tend to judge our “success” on how our kids turn out. We worry more about having “failed” than we do about making sure we have done our part.
I love how Reb Bradley says it in the book, Solving a Crisis in Christian Parenting:
One of the reasons parents homeschool is because they want to accomplish something good in their children. Success in homeschooling requires that academic, moral, and spiritual goals be set. It is only natural for parents to have high hopes and dreams for their children. However, when we begin to see our children as a reflection or validation of US, we become the center of our dreams, and the children become our source of significance. When that happens in our home it affects the way we relate with our children, and subtly breaks down relationship.
….from God’s standpoint, parents’ success is measured by their obedience–not by how their children ultimately choose to respond to their influence.“
I believe that by our influence we can greatly increase the chances that our kids will love and follow Christ. However, it’s more likely to happen because of what they see us living, than by the “formula” we follow. (Don’t get me wrong – we need rules and standards in the home – it’s about balance)
The other key that increases the chances of our homeschooling kids “turning out good” is having their heart! They are much, much more likely to “buy in” to what we believe and teach, if we have their heart. By having their heart, we gain their trust. They realize that we are concerned about what is best for them, rather than feeling like we are just trying to control them.
Solomon is a great example of this balanced parenting. When he encouraged his young adult children and gave them commandments, he realized that for them to honor those commands, he needed their heart. (Proverbs 23:26)
The point of telling this secret is not to discourage you, but rather to remind you that even though homeschooling gives us more opportunities to influence our children, and protect them, it doesn’t guarantee the results. We need to focus instead on being obedient to God by faithfully teaching and training them in His ways, while seeking to win their heart. Leave the results to God, while praying for Him to work in their heart! My desire, after I’m done raising my kids, is to be able to say that even though I’ve messed up at times, I did my best to be faithful and obedient, and gave it my all.
Reb Bradley’s book, which I mentioned above, shares several blind spots in parenting that often contribute to the breakdown of relationship between parents and kids, thereby increasing prodigal tendencies. I think every parent should read this book – it’s really that good! To encourage you to buy the book, and glean from the valuable thoughts he shares, I’m going to sell if for 50% off for the next week. It’s normally $9, now only $4.50!