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.