Today I want to comment on a popular blog post by Reb Bradley that has been making the rounds on the social networking sites. The article is titled “Homeschool Blind Spots” and you can link to it here. The article is written by a homeschool Dad, who points out some mistakes that he and others have made in homeschooling. This article does make some legitimate points, and can be a helpful tool homeschool parents can use to exam themselves. However, in general I find this article to be demoralizing and unfair in the burden it puts on parents to be perfect. I think that most of the kids mentioned in this article had great opportunities, and wasted them. I don’t think a little more effort on the part of their parents would have changed anything. The fault is their own, not their parents. The cold hard fact is that we cannot make our children become Christians, no matter how hard we try. They are responsible for their own choices.
Let me respond briefly to a few of the statements made in the opening section of the article:
In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were leaders. These parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn’t turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn’t hold to their parents’ values.
Yes, it is troubling when homeschool kids who once looked like model citizens, start misbehaving after they leave home. But there is nothing you can do to eliminate this except pray and plead with God to change their hearts. When a child lives at home he generally reflects his parents values; after he leaves his own values become evident. Whether or not he has chosen to genuinely adopt his parents values is up to him: no amount of training can force him to become what you want him to be. He is responsible for his own choices.
Some of these young people grew up and left home in defiance of their parents. Others got married against their parents’ wishes, and still others got involved with drugs, alcohol, and immorality. I have even heard of several exemplary young men who no longer even believe in God. My own adult children have gone through struggles I never guessed they would face.
In many cases these struggles have less to do with how they were raised, then the decisions that they themselves have made independant of their training. If a Christian youngster rejects good, loving, advice from his parents he will have struggles in his life. The fact that kids have struggles when they reject what they have been taught validates, not invalidates the way the teaching their parents gave them. It should not surprise us that some of these kids leave the faith when they became adults (probably more leave the faith than admit to it). There is nothing you can do to force your children to become a Christian.
Most of these parents remain stunned by their children’s choices, because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion.
Yes, it is stunning when our children reject our beliefs, and I do recognize that overconfidence has been a factor in some homeschooling families. No approach to parenting will ever prevent all rebellion. This is sad… I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.
My conclusion is that homeschool parents need to be humble and be aware of the homeschool blindspots as the author of this article points out. However, this awareness in and of itself, and the improvements that we make will not guarentee success. This may be depressing, but I need to point it out in order that homeschool parents not beat themselves up too hard for their children’s mistakes. You did the right thing, and God has blessed you for it, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.
I want to close by saying that I am a thirty-year old who was homeschooled all the way from pre-school through highschool. I am extremely grateful to my parents for the way they raised me! Homeschooling was the right choice for their situation. It did not guarentee that all of us kids would turn out perfectly: some of my homeschool friends turned out really well, some of them didn’t. But it has been my experience that most of my homeschool friends actually benefited from being homeschooled by parents that loved them and sacrificed a lot for them. I intend to homeschool my own kids when they are old enough. I know that this does not guarentee that they will become Christians, and I know I will make mistakes, but it is the best that I have to offer them.
My Dad likes to say “being a parent is the greatest guilt-trip ever.” He’s right. But He also knows from thirty plus years of parenting experience that it’s well worth the trouble.