Remembering the Cost of Not Homeschooling
- Monday, January 11, 2010
I've known a number of young Christians who've managed to keep themselves spiritually grounded while growing up in the public school system. They are those whose parents kept their children's hearts, and those who have the spiritual stamina to withstand temptation and even persecution. That is commendable. However, there are also plenty of young Christians who've fallen away because of all the influences around them in school. They may be the boundary-pushers, the ones who don't learn as well from other people's mistakes. Or they may just want to fit in.
Life is such a battleground, and our children, homeschooled or not, will be bombarded, tested, attacked, and beaten by the adversary. We need every weapon in our arsenal to fight back, to hold the fort without allowing a breech. Sheltering? Yes! What's wrong with that? Parents are commissioned by God to shelter and protect, not to toughen and harden. Non-homeschoolers don't usually understand what that kind of sheltering actually looks like.
My husband and I didn't raise any social caterpillars. Our five children, sometimes to my chagrin, are butterflies. Their biggest questions have always been, "How high can I fly? How far can I go? How colorful can I become?" I don't really know how this happened. Maybe it's genetic. The point is, they attract people. They are the social butterflies in the midst of the crowd, the leaders that others flock around and follow. I've explained that this is a gift which comes with extra responsibility as well as extra temptation, because they draw all types of personalities, from the good to the troubled. Homeschooling and "sheltering" my children has not turned them into social misfits. On the contrary, it has turned them into young adults comfortable in almost any situation they find themselves.
My most recent 18-year-old graduate works on a landscaping crew. He travels to projects around a large, two-city area with a combined population of about 120,000. Yet, it seems that no matter where he goes, he frequently runs into friends and acquaintances of all ages. Those on his crew often grow wide-eyed, and have even said, "Man, I thought you were homeschooled. Do you know everybody?" This just gives a little perspective on the whole socialization issue—and I don't think my kids are uncommon in this regard. Yet, we did indeed shelter and protect our children: we gave guidance to their social experiences, instead of randomly inserting them into the public school social structure.
Spiritually, we've had our struggles, as everyone will, to one degree or another. My children all came out of the womb with intensely strong wills. There have been times they've bucked us and even gotten into serious trouble. A couple of my children have had to face some grave life consequences for poor choices. Homeschooling didn't spare us every sinful ill. However, I believe it may have been worse had they been exposed to the entire gamut of social evil found in the public school scene. That's not even a criticism of schools, just a criticism of society as a whole. It's the nature of the beast. Where more people are found, especially impressionable people, the more chance there is to gravitate to wrong.
When my husband talks about teens' personalities and spiritual walks, he says that "water seeks its own level," meaning we'll all gravitate toward the person who's most like ourselves. That's why peer pressure is what it is, and children can so easily lead one another astray.
If you have a wild child, one who pushes both your boundaries and your patience, a child who likes to live on the edge and learn all of life's lessons the hard way, ask yourself, "Will putting him or her in public school help the problem, or make it worse?"
Homeschooling our children puts us in the unique position of being a constant influence on their beliefs and morals. We don't have the same level of combating to do as we would if they were away from us and in the pool of social experimentation eight hours a day. Parents are commissioned to be the shapers and holders of their children's spiritual and physical safety. Can we do that as well when we are separated from them for most of their day, their week, their year? Are we sure we're willing to pay the price to find out?
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