Friday, January 29, 2010

Those Condescending Homeschoolers

If you are a homeschooler, it is likely you have been called "stuck-up", "condescending", "holier than thou", or any number of names with the same basic meaning at least once in your life. Many times these names are flung out in defense from other parents who know deep in their hearts that you are certainly not any of those things, but they need something to make them feel better or to help them avoid actually thinking through the ideas you are presenting to them.

Now, with that said, there are some homeschoolers who truly are condescending and "holier-than-thou." I don't think they are in the majority, I believe they are the exception to the rule, but they do exist and they are a blight on the good name of Christian homeschoolers everywhere.

What is more disturbing, perhaps, is the fact that even good, well-meaning homeschoolers can come across as condescending when they don't mean to, and that sometimes we can get so fed up with all the criticism and ridicule we have to deal with that we begin to sling unnecessary and hurtful words ourselves. We do it in moments of frustration and stress.

But that doesn't make it any more right.

About a year or so ago, we were doing a study in church on spiritual gifts. Mine were no surprise to me: teaching, wisdom, faith. What shocked me were that my lowest scores were in Love and Mercy! We were using the Scriptures in 1 Corinthians 12 in our study of spiritual gifts, but God drew my eyes onward to 1 Corinthians 13. Most of you will know it as the "Love Chapter."

I would like to include part of it here, and encourage you as you read it to pay attention to how many times love is placed above all other gifts, in fact how many times those other gifts are considered meaningless if not combined with love and mercy:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,
but have not love, I gain nothing."
~1 Corinthians 13:1-3

It struck me that knowing all there is to know about a subject, even knowing spiritual truths gleaned from years of Bible study, is no good at all if it is not presented in love and with mercy. It is easy to think that parents who choose to send their kids to government schools are lesser parents somehow because they do not heed the Bible's instruction on the upbringing of children.

But I ask you homeschoolers: how much of the Bible's instruction do you ignore each day? How many days have you been lazy, or jealous, or told "just a white lie"? How many times have you judged someone without truly knowing them, or spoken in anger to another person? We are not perfect.

Yes, God has given us the directive to bring up our own children in Biblical education. Yes, I believe this is a truth that most Christians today would prefer to ignore rather than be inconvenienced by it.

However, the fact that I have heard that call and heeded it does not somehow make me a better Christian than those other parents. It is a very fine line indeed that we must walk between spreading the word and trying to get parents to truly take a hard look at the choices they have made for their children and making them feel like bad parents because they don't make the same choices we do.

I have heard many, many parents say that they would love to homeschool, if only they could. Sometimes we homeschoolers get so fed up with this reasoning, that we try to play the "Oh, ye of little faith" card.

"Oh, if you'd just have faith, God would get you through it. He'd provide the way somehow."

Which is true, but it is not enough to just tell people that and then look down your nose at them as they walk away. Jesus was pro-active when he was on the earth. He did not simply tell people the right way, He showed it to them, modeled it for them, and helped them achieve it in their own lives.

How many single moms do you know who would homeschool their kids if they weren't stuck working two or more jobs just trying to keep them fed? How many two-parent families do you know where both parents have to work in order to pay all the bills?

It's easy enough to say, "Oh, well, if divorce wasn't such a norm in the country, and if people would just not have sex out of wedlock, we wouldn't have all these single moms" or, "Well, if those double-income families would just downsize a little, they wouldn't have all those bills or if they hadn't racked up so much debt they wouldn't be in this situation."

But that doesn't solve any problems, does it? When was the last time you took a single mom's kids for the weekend so she could rest? When was the last time you gave your kids old schoolbooks to a family struggling to find ways to afford curriculum? When was the last time you offered an encouraging word to a stressed out mother?

We need to be pro-active in helping families do their very best to raise their children. If this results in more families homeschooling, then God be praised! But even if it doesn't, it can still mean a world of difference to those families, those children.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
~Matthew 19:14

It occurs to me that by being anything less than compassionate and encouraging toward these parents, we may be hindering their children.

Truly, truly, God forbid.

Another verse was brought to my attention this past Sunday in church. We were actually focusing on Luke 12, but my eyes wandered back a page to Luke 11, in which Jesus lists the Six Woes on the Pharisees. This verse in particular caught my eye:

Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."
~Luke 11:46

Wow. Are we loading our fellow Christian parents down with burdens, instead of helping them to carry them? Woe to us, then, if we are.

If you'd like to help out Christian families (or even non-Christian families, they certainly need to see the light as well), get to know the mothers in your church, in your neighborhood. Be encouraging to them. Keep their kids once in a while, even if they never reciprocate. Realize how good you really have it. Even the poorest homeschool family is rich in blessings unimaginable to most people. Loan out your books or give them away. Offer to help teach other people's kids (if this is legal in your state). If you have the room, let struggling single moms stay with you while they get on their feet. There are so many things we can do.

Please check out these websites, which are great ways to help others in this area:

"We are a ministry-oriented site helping you to minister to the needs of widowed and single home school moms. How do we do that? We present the families to you, and you give directly to them! "

"As part of our ministry at Gleaning the Harvest, we would like to give you the opportunity to give your books that are sitting around collecting dust to home school families in need. You give your extra books or other items, and the LORD will surely bless you for your generosity; sounds like a good swap to me!"

"How to help:
* Book donations: We accept any used books, workbooks, flash cards, kits, DVDs, CD-ROMS, and school supplies. They will be catalogued for immediate redistribution.
* Cash donations: Be assured that 100% of all contributions will be used to purchase much-needed curriculum.
*Books, curriculum, cash contributions and postage are all tax deductible gifts.
* Please pray for our continued efforts to reach out to homeschooling families through this ministry."

"HSF, the charitable arm of HSLDA, is dedicated to finding and helping homeschooling families in need continue in their conviction to homeschool. We even reach internationally to help homeschool groups or families facing legal pressure."


  1. I SOOO Needed this today. Thank You ! I wish I had read this before I wrote mine !

  2. AWESOME POST!! I will look into the Book Samaritan. Thank you for the information. :)

  3. Heather, that's a great post. As much as I despise government schools, I also recognize that there are some individuals who really have very little choice, whether through circumstances beyond their control or otherwise, but to use them. Those people have my sympathy.

    On the other hand, I can't help but think that most people who don't homeschool or make use of private schools simply don't fall into this category. As common as homeschooling, especially in Oklahoma, has become, at least as compared to thirty years ago, the reality is that most people, even most Christians, still regard it as something more than a little outside the norm, and in my opinion, they generally do this without having anything even slightly resembling an informed opinion on the subject. I hate to say it, but my experience over the last fourteen years or so has been that most people toss their children into those repugnant government schools knowing full well that they do not perform as advertised but also never bothering to give alternatives more than a cursory look, making every excuse in the book whilst doing so, and bitterly resenting such homeschoolers as they encounter, even when, in my experience, the homeschoolers don't offer any criticism! They perceive the simple act of homeschooling as a de facto criticism in and of itself, whether or not anything is actually said.

    I don't have to say a thing. People become aware that we homeschool, and they instantly feel on the defensive. And if, God forbid, they should choose to ask me questions about it, the plain and honest answers often discomfit them so much that they feel compelled to lash back, even though they haven't been lashed at!

    Put more succinctly, whilst we do have to recognize that it is not realistic for everyone to homeschool and not judge them for not seeing things as we do, it also seems realistic to me that homeschoolers are more likely to be on the receiving end of judgementalism than on the dishing-out end.

    Just my two cents.

  4. I appreciate your post. I disagree with some aspects because purposeful Christian parents who send their kids to public school aren't forgoing the solemn responsibility of Deuteronomy 6: 6 -10, or Proverbs 22:6. I know many purposeful parents who are training their kids even if they go to public school.

    You are right though both public and home school parents need to be respectful and encouraging to one another. We are in this together as Christian parents, with the same goal of raising Christian kids. Public School parents can look down on home school and vice versa. I've actually been told that if you send your kids to public school you are putting them in prison.

    I appreciate that you do have grace on families that make other choices. I encourage you to recognize that Christian parents of public schoolers have the exact same mission as you. Raising Godly kids.



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