- Gary Chevalier Contributing Writer
- 2006 13 Jan
Let's face it. In America today, home schooling your children is not always a popular choice. Its reputation is plagued by misinformation, ignorance, and fear of going against the "social norm" of sending your children to a public or private school. And as with anything else that is deemed unpopular by society, criticism of those who choose it always follows. Often this criticism, raised eyebrows, or condescending looks come in social settings where people tend to make "small talk" about their kids. These sorts of situations are fairly easy to brush off as irrelevant to you; however, if you were not home schooled as a child then it is highly likely that you will also receive criticism from your parents, siblings, and close friends. These misgivings hit much closer to home because they come from those you love, who know you, and who are supposed to be your support base. So what do you do? How do you handle it when those who should love and support you seem to turn on you? The solution, as in all things, is to follow Jesus' example.
In Mark 6:3 Jesus returned to His hometown to teach in the synagogue, but those who heard Him took offense at Him and said, "What's this wisdom that has been given Him, that He even does miracles? Isn't this Mary's son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren't His sisters here with us?"(NIV) These were people who knew Jesus; people who watched him grow through childhood and adolescence and remain sinless. They should have supported him, yet they antagonized him. In Mark 3:21 Jesus' mother and brothers traveled nearly 30 miles to "take charge of Him," saying that He was "out of His mind;" John 7:5 confirms their feelings saying, "even His own brothers did not believe Him." Jesus was no stranger to being rejected by His friends and family. So when such criticism and persecution arises for you, let me assure you that you are not alone. Every home schooling family that I know has endured such criticism - it seems to go with the territory. In these circumstances, as home schooling parents we must always be kind and exhibit the same attitude that Christ did.
First, we must put forth the effort to help them understand why we chose to home school. Jesus knew the opposition He would receive. His family had already demonstrated their feelings toward Him (Mark 3:21), yet Jesus still chose to go to His hometown to teach and heal (Mark 6:1-6). As a home schooling dad whose grandmother, mother, sister, and sister-in-law all work (or worked) for a public school, criticism on our choice to home school came swiftly. Sideways glances, fake smiles, and badgering about our children's "lack of socialization" came as poorly disguised expressions of concern about what our girls would miss by not attending public school. Many times I have tried to explain to my family that it is not only what they'll miss in public schools (overcrowded classrooms, a culture of mediocrity, a bureaucratic nightmare, etc.), but also what they gain by home schooling that attracts us! How better to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6) than to be taught by a parent? Someone who really knows them, their interests, their quirks, their individual learning styles, and their strengths and weaknesses is unequivocally the best way to educate a child. Yet another bonus is that my daughters get to spend quality time each day with their mother instead of spending half of their waking hours in an institution. There are also numerous resources and statistics that I have employed to support home schooling our children (http://homeschoolinformation.com & http://www.hslda.org/research/default.asp to name a couple). Still, I can never seem to convince my family of the validity of home schooling my children. Despite their disagreement, however, I must follow in the footsteps of Jesus and continue doing what I know God has called me to do.
Jesus tried to teach and heal in His hometown but ended up accomplishing very little because of their "lack of faith" in Him (Mark 6:6). So, He and the disciples left and continued to travel to other villages and towns where Jesus healed, taught, and did many miracles. He could have tried to stay at home and put all His effort into convincing everyone that He really was God's Son, but that was not what God called Him to do. Jesus knew that He must do the will of the Father...and that is exactly what we must do. Caring for and instructing our children in the way of the Lord is our primary calling as parents. If you feel that God has called you to home school because that is what is best for your children, then you must do it with all your heart regardless of what others (even your parents) may say to you.
So I encourage you, home school parents, to stand in the face of adversity, beaming with the confident love of Christ and commitment to Him. Trials will come. You will encounter opposition and criticism from those you love and trust. And it will likely hurt your feelings. But Jesus showed us the way to act when those closest to you have abandoned you. Love them, inform them, and try to show them what you're doing is true and just. But if they will not believe you, then for your sake, your children's sake, and for the cause of Christ you must move on and keep about the Father's task to which He has assigned you.
"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12)
Gary Chevalier is the father of two darling girls, husband of an amazing wife, and a devoted home school dad. A Worship Pastor for over 10 years, Gary has now begun to pass on what he has learned as a freelance writer/speaker and worship consultant. Comments, stories, encouragement, and/or inquiries can be emailed to [email protected].