real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

what is commitment to children?

We all know what being committed to our children looks like.  In caring for them physically, we make sure they have well-balanced meals, see the dentist and doctor regularly, wear weather-appropriate clothing, and always buckle-up in the car.  Spiritually, we teach them from their earliest days to love God completely, confess their sins, and trust Christ alone for their salvation.  Emotionally, we let them know how much we love them and we hug them every day.  Mentally, we challenge them with good book and creative activities.

All of these things express our commitment to our children, however, I think that too often, homeschooling parents are committed to a paradigm, rather than to their children as unique individuals, young men and women who are image-bearers of the living God.  They tend to catch a vision that a particular homeschooling guru has for homeschooling families and adopt it as their own, not taking into consideration their own unique calling as a family and as individuals within that family.  They establish goals and objectives that don’t even fit their own children.  They become frustrated when a child questions what he is being taught or cannot or does not want to comply with it.  Then they have no choice but to renounce their sons and daughters as “rebellious,” sometimes just for asking questions.  In some cases, parents completely cut off a relationship with a grown child who makes choices that aren’t what the paradigm requires, even though those choices aren’t necessarily unbiblical.  You see, once you climb inside the paradigm, you are bound to embrace all of it and you begin to believe that anything that falls outside the paradigm is sinful.

When we first began homeschooling, we fell into this very trap.  We had attended several homeschooling conferences and heard a number of men talk about their families and watched, as they listed on an overhead projector (we are old, there were no laptops back then!), the “principles” for having a perfect homeschooling family.  If we were only to follow steps one through seven, we, too, would have a family that looked like the (fill in the blank) family.  And then the (fill in the blank) family would come on stage and be all dressed alike and would sing in perfect harmony.  (We were not family singers but I felt perhaps we should be.)  And the mother would address the women and the father would address the men and we would all go home with notebooks full of formulas for success.

But, do you know what I learned?  There was no room for individuality in those notebooks.  There was no place for an artistic child.  There was no place for a special needs child.  In fact, there was no place for ordinary, average children.  There was only room for a programmed child.  These people told us that every normal problem that came along, problems that are the result of living in a fallen world, were really the result of some unconfessed sin or spiritual warfare that was upon us because of some root problem we hadn’t looked at!  I spent too much time trying to figure out what sin I needed to confess so all my light bulbs didn’t burn out at the same time or what scriptural principle I had violated that caused my six year old to have trouble reading.  I scurried around the house getting rid of things like Cabbage Patch dolls because I was told that they could open the door to demons in my home and thus attack my children.  (You may think this is too weird, but, believe me, it is true!)  I spent no time delighting in the goodness of God, in the wonder of childhood, in the tremendous unique gifts that were given to me in the form of creative children!  I had to repent of my commitment to the paradigm rather than the commitment to my children.

I am so thankful that the Lord, in his mercy and grace, taught us a better way.  He allowed us to see that paradigms are idols, calling us to worship at their feet, replacing faith and hope in God with a sure fire formula for success.  (Sadly, much of what are established as models in the homeschooling community today are just rehashed stuff from 20 years ago but they are packaged in an ever new pile of books and curriculum to purchase from “homeschooling experts.”)  He taught us that He has a plan for our family that doesn’t look exactly like His plan for another family.  He taught us to really look at what is passed off as “Biblical truth” and to examine it with the spirit of the Bereans.  He taught us that legalism is alive and well and often comes from the hands of those who have a scary agenda.

Our children are precious treasures from the Lord.  Let’s value them as such and trust that God will bless us as we commit our ways of raising them to Him alone.

Copyright 2007



  Sue C wrote @

Right on, Karen! Excellent thoughts.

Sue C

  thatmom wrote @

Thanks, Sue. I feel especially burdened this time of year when I know, all around the country, there are fresh young faces eagerly attending homeschooling conferences where these sorts of paradigms will be taught.

On the other hand, the Peoria conference looks great this year. I can’t wait to see Steve and Annie Chapman, names certainly from the past.

My “most married” story is realted to them. One time, nearly 21 years ago, when I was hugely pregnant with my 4th child, and feeling like a whale and crying alot, I turned on a Dobson broadcast and he was featuring the Chapmans, whom I had never even heard of, in the weekly chapel service at Focus on the Family. I stood by the radio and cried for the whole 30 minutes. That night, at the dinner table, I started to tell Clay about this wonderful music I had heard and then I started to cry again. He got up and walked over to me and I thought he was going to hug me and comfort me. Out of his pocket he pulled a Steve and Annie Chapman cassette tape (this was the pre-CD days) and said “Honey, I heard the same broadcast today and just knew how much you would love their music!” Now that’s married!

So, I can’t wait to hear them again and am so glad that many younger couples will get the chance to enjoy them as well.

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