So....a lot's been going on in this head of mine (shocking, I know). If you are a Christian parent, you NEED to pick up a copy of "Family Driven Faith" by Voddie Bachaum, Jr., in my humble opinion. It's literally changing my life. Here's the deal -- estimates on the low side are that 70% of teens raised as believers leave the faith before the end of their first year of college. "Why?" raises a tons of possibilities and in this book, he doesn't necessarily try to find the reasons; he just tries to help a Christian parent change what they can to where it can prayerfully not happen to them. Let me ask you this, Christian Parent -- what are you doing on a daily basis to "preach" the gospel to your children? Are you having regular family worship in your home, led by the spiritual leader of your home (your husband, if you have one and he's a believer)? Now, don't loose me here 'cause I know what I'm about to say a lot of people are going to blow off. Just listen to my question and let it sink in and then, above all else, pray about it (and don't attack the messenger!). If your children are gone from you for 6+ hours a day attending school, how is that affecting your job as a parent required to teach them the things of the Lord? "Well," you say "I just can't homeschool my kids." That may be true but I'd like to take a stab at helping you see that it's not as far-fetched an idea as you think it may be by dissecting some of the arguments I myself have been clinging to lately. **Disclaimer** While I'm currently only homeschooling 1of my children, we made the decision recently that Caleb & John would stay home next school year, too. After reading this book, Jonathan & I are prayerfully adding Nathan to that list. I'll explain why as we go.
Argument #1 -- Nathan will be in junior high next year. I can't teach junior high!
Can't I? If you've ever picked up a homeschool curriculum catalog before, you're going to know what I'm about to say is very true -- there are TONS of options out there. Many of them include "virtual" teachers. There are parents out there who have tread this path before me & thrived; I can glean from their experiences. Regardless of my insecurities about teaching junior high, am I allowed to let fear keep me from obeying God? If I truly feel God is calling me to homeschool my children, then am I allowed to tell God I can't because I'm afraid. *ouch*
Argument #2 -- Nathan is in band. I can't give him that option at home.
True that! I can't do band with 6 kids of all different ages and no one able to play an instrument other than me & Nathan. Band is very rewarding -- I know. Been there, done that! I used to say "High School band was the best 4 years of my life!". And while that is true in many ways, obviously many things have come into my life since then that have trumped it. And no parent wants to feel like they're depriving their children, right? I certainly don't. However, I'm coming to realize that "good is the enemy of the best". While allowing Nathan to be in the band would definitely be a good thing, is it the best thing for him right now? Can I justify my decision to allow Nathan to stay in public school just so he can enjoy band? Can I not find something else for Nathan to do that will be as beneficial to him, all the while keeping him at home? Pondering that one, big time....
Argument #3 -- Nathan is SUCH a social child. He'll be bored at home.
Nathan is already bored at home on days off from school. BUT -- who's fault is that? As a young man 11 1/2 years old, it's partly his. He should be able to find something (good) to do to occupy his time. However, isn't some of the responsibility also mine? In the very least, it absolutely is -- if Nathan claims he's bored (which he often does) and he decides to occupy his time by bugging his younger siblings (which he does on occasion), isn't it MY job as his mother to redirect him?... Here's something I've been thinking about a lot lately -- "What do I remember about being in junior high?" I remember feeling tortured at school because I was not only fat, I also wore glasses. I do remember the good things, too -- I remember winning the science fair one year, I remember loving being in the band, and I remember the one good friend I did have (Hi, Heather!). Are these things good? With the exception of being made fun of, absolutely they are good! But, I'm sure if I asked my parents, they'd rather me remember the things we did together as a family. When people ask my kids today about school, it pains me sometimes to hear them say how they love their teacher or their friends. God designed the FAMILY to be each other's best friends! That's why we have siblings (hopefully)! When my kids are adults and look back at their years at home, I want them to be bonded to EACH OTHER and to me & their Dad. I don't want them to remember so-and-so who isn't in their life any more. Friends are good to have -- I'm certainly grateful for the true friends I have today -- but family should last forever and the bonds of family should go much, much deeper! And, I have to go back to the question I asked under the first argument -- is my fear of Nathan's boredom enough to allow me to disregard what God is calling me to?
These are just 3 of the arguments I've had in my heart lately and it all boils down to fear. Fear of failure, fear of pushing my kids away rather than bonding them more deeply to our family unit, fear of loosing family or friends who don't agree with our decisions, fear of other numerous things....but isn't this where FAITH is supposed to come in? Absolutely it's going to be hard! I know 'cause I've already done it and it was hard with only ONE child in school! But the bottom line boils down to 2 things (and I promise I'll shut up after this). #1 God IS calling me to this, I'm certain of it. #2 My number 1 job as a Christian mother is to evangelize and disciple my children. Don't miss the point here -- YES, they're education is important and I'm not trying to down play it nor would I ever claim I can teach better than their teachers can (we've been blessed with GREAT teachers our 2 years in public school). But, if I had the choice of a child who couldn't read but was passionately in love with Jesus as their Savior or a brilliant scholar with no regard for the things of God, I wouldn't have to think twice about what I'd pick. And I CANNOT "keep the main thing (the condition of their souls) the main thing" when they're gone from me 6 hours a day. I have a hard enough time getting homework done in the evenings, much less getting to the heart of my children and prayerfully influencing them for the Lord.
**Is God calling every Christian parent to homeschooling? No and maybe you're one of the one's He's not called to it -- in all sincerity, you'll have to ask Him (please do). But I'm certain He's calling me and I hope that you will pray and ask God how you can better influence your children for Him, regardless of where you decide for them to get their education. And pray for us, too.