>Humility and the Homeschool Mom


Since I’m on a scenic tour of the great State of Humility right now I thought I would share some of the sights I’m encountering along the way.

I think that deciding to homeschool is one of the most freeing, exhilirating, terrifying and prideful decisions a parent can make.

It is freeing because most of us came out of the “system”. Most of us got up in the morning and were shuttled off to classrooms where we experienced snacktime and recess and maybe some bullying and being picked first (or last) for the dodgeball team. Whatever our experiences there, good and bad, most of us never gave a thought as children that it could be any other way. Everyone went to school, unless there was something wrong with you.

If you think about it, there’s something about the decision to homeschool your child that is very rebellious. And rebellion can feel exhilirating. At least for me. It is deeply ironic that we, who are really doing something quite rebellious, like eschewing the deeply ingrained American tradition of institutional schooling, set our eyes and our hearts upon raising compliant children. Well, we want them compliant to our ideals anyway.

Terrifying? The decision to homeschool should be terrifying and if you aren’t terrified then I wonder if there might be something wrong with you. The decision to homeschool is a decision that will affect you and your child for the rest of their lives in postive AND negative ways. And you will have no one in the end to blame but yourself.

(And…………………………… hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…………………….. should I tell you the dreadful secret?)

Don’t worry, I will. I want the travelers who’ve joined me for this sightseeing excursion of the ancient ruins of my self-image and pride to get their money’s worth.

Homeschooling is the ultimate control-freak parenting decision and yet you really don’t get all the control on what those positive and negative ways will be. Sorry.

The problem with philosophies like “tomato-staking” is that we aren’t raising tomatoes here. We’re raising human beings. And human beings have this nasty way of being autonomous and bursting out of even the most well-built cage and thinking for themselves. Just like you thought for yourself when you decided to homeschool (even though your own mother thought you were crazy and your Aunt Sally is now convinced that something is wrong with you) that’s what will happen one day with your child….they will think for themselves.

Homeschooling offers this alluring promise that you, the loving parent, will have the lion’s share of the influence over your child. And there is truth in that. You’ll have influence. But you won’t have control. Not really. Not if you’re honest with yourself.

And prideful? Yes, deciding that you can do a better job than a billion dollar industry complete with basketball courts, and science labs, and a multitude of trained professionals takes some pride. Yeah, yeah, I’ve read What’s His Name’s book on Dumbing Down America and attended a gazillion homeschooling pep rallies, ummmmm, I mean homeschooling conferences, so I know how our kids get better test scores and our kids get into Harvard too and all that stuff. But I’m not talking about results because when you decide to homeschool your children you got no results, all you got is a kid and a dream.

Yesterday, we spent our one hour talking with out son’s counselor about homeschooling. The counselor was homeschooled (that’s rare) and homeschools his children so it was a friendly discussion. I’ve definitely had some unfriendly discussions with professionals who want to blame everything on homeschooling as though institutionally educated children never do drugs or go astray or forget to turn in their homework or walk away from their faith!!!!! I don’t have to tell you that’s hogwash, but when professionals (or even mom and Aunt Sally) start questioning and bringing up homeschooling’s weaknesses (which it has some) that can sure put the homeschooling parent on the defensive.

And defensiveness can lead to pride. We’re defensive because deep down we don’t know how it’ll turn out. And this huge investment of time and energy and money on the part of the mother is so huge that it is difficult to disengage and not invest pride in it too. Shoot! This is a decades long project here raising up these kids and us homeschooling moms are giving it our all. It hurts the pride when it just doesn’t work out the way we imagined.

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 16:18 that, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

And that’s my lesson for today. Not my lesson for any one of you…that’s my lesson.


6 thoughts on “>Humility and the Homeschool Mom

  1. >Hi—I am on the SL forums and enjoy your blog. I just wanted to comment on your “tomato staking” comments. As a person who loves to garden, there is something about that phrase applied to children that rubs me the wrong way. Tomatoes are staked for life. Once tied up, they stay tied up forever. Untie the vine, and it will immediately flop over and die. Maybe I’m over thinking things, but it just strikes me as a terrible metaphor for what we as parents are trying to accomplish. The only way the metaphor works for me is to think of God as the one we should be staking ourselves to, but that is a voluntary process and not something forced on us.On a more relevant note, please know you are in my prayers.

  2. >Chloe,I don’t know what’s in your heart. But I *do* think you’re slamming yourself way too hard.Now, that’s calling the kettle black coming from me. I’m the queen of condemnation and I like to trick myself into calling it humility………pride you say? I’ll give you pride……..Try this one on: God says in His word that you are holy and acceptable in the beloved. He says in His word that nothing shall separate you from the love of God. He says in His word that there is therefore now, no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.If we allow ourselves to hold any other opinion of ourselves other than what God holds, THAT my dear is pride.So, though you may think you are doing yourself a favor by this public flogging, you are not.You are still “holy and acceptable” in the eyes of God and if you confess otherwise, well, dare I say, you have a pride issue.What, thinking your opinion of yourself is higher than God’s?Try that one on for size.Oh, and I love you.Mags

  3. >Wow Chloe, it is almost like you just read my journal this past week. My husband and I have been talking about my “control issues” and I have been trying my best to let go, and recognize my kids are just that, kids, and not me. They have minds of their own, after all isn’t that why I wanted to homeschool? So they could grow up to be the people God wants them to be? Thank you for the reminder. I am so sorry you are going through so much right now. Thank you for your honesty. It is what drew me to your posts when I was on SL.

  4. >Chloe -I think this blog post is RIGHT ON. I was home-schooled from kindergarten through high school by parents who were MUCH stricter and more “sheltering” than you and the Tick have been with your own children. When I turned 18, I moved in with my 24-year-old boyfriend who I had been seeing behind my parents’ backs. My mother’s response? “How can you do this to me? I didn’t raise you to do this!” She then had a total and complete nervous breakdown, to the point where her old college roommate had to come stay for a week and make sure that she did things like bathe and eat and not pull her hair out in clumps.My mother honestly believed that she could “help” achieve my salvation and sanctification if she created the perfect environment for me… and when it turned out that I was STILL sinful and willful in spite of it all, she literally collapsed.Reading your blog posts over the past few of weeks has felt like such deja vu. I think that this post is really transparent and very, very true. So many of us who have chosen to home school really do think that we can entirely control the outcome, whether we admit that to ourselves or not. And when we find out that we can’t, it’s like everything that we’ve clung to and believed in has betrayed us, when really we built the sandcastle all by ourselves, deluding ourselves that the tide would stay away for ever if we just worked hard enough.Thank you for being so willing to share your pain and your thoughts and the things that you are learning.- RenadaJoy on SL

  5. >Thank you for sharing this, Chloe. I’m still coming to terms with my control issues, and learning to let go (and not pass on my issues to my dc!).Hugs, my friend!Leslie/NUOY

  6. >Have come to some of these conclusions on my own lately but to see them down on paper (or computer as the case may be) just gives me even more to think about. A friend of mine got a small dose of this reality when she couldn’t control her daughter getting married against their wishes. Lot of other things going on too that sent up big warning flags for me. Hope I can learn from those that have been there and are now looking back.Thanks!mompotter

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