There were several reasons I said I’d never homeschool. Teach a kid math? Are you serious? And what about the time commitment involved in homeschooling? How was a mom to get anything else done? Besides, (and please pardon my past ignorance here,) why on earth would I devote years to educating my children when there were good schools available everywhere for just that purpose?
But this was my favorite excuse. If anyone managed to derail my other defenses, I could always fall back on this one. It was, after all, at the core of all my other objections: “Me, homeschool? No way! I don’t have the patience for that.”
Yes, it was a copout, but it also perfectly reflected the attitude of society at large. When the subject of homeschooling comes up now, without fail someone will raise the patience issue. And moms bewildered by my decision to homeschool, by the fact I actually choose to keep my four children home with me all hours of the day, will often add things like, “You must be a saint,” or, “You are Superwoman!”
Now the vain side of me would love to revel in such compliments, but I’m far more troubled by statements like that than I am flattered by them. For one, I know I’m far from super or saintly! But I’m also a bit befuddled as to why a mom who does what moms have done from the dawn of time should be considered superhuman for it.
After all, children are not a new invention. They’ve been around for a long time, crying and fighting and making messes and complicating their mother’s lives in unbelievable ways. The world has changed, but the nature of children hasn’t and now families are generally smaller, advice is more readily available, sources of entertainment are more numerable, and toy boxes are more ridiculously stocked than ever. Reason would dictate that children should be easier to handle now than at any time in history. Why then do most parents act like there is nothing more overwhelming than the thought of actually spending every day with their kids?
When did the I-don’t-have-the-patience-to-deal-with-my-own-children thinking become the norm? What has persuaded us, at one time had persuaded me, that we don’t have the wherewithal to handle the very blessings many of us begged God to give us?
Our culture has a sadly negative view of children and it’s naïve of us to believe those attitudes can’t affect us. In subtle and often not-so-subtle ways society teaches that children are an incredible inconvenience. They drain our pocketbooks, over-expend our energy, limit our abilities, and stifle our dreams. If we’re to believe what the culture implies, children are a source of great physical, mental, and emotional stress and the sooner they can be shipped off to someone else’s care, the better.
Of course, isn’t it ironic that the same society that tells us we can’t manage our own children also assures us that perfect strangers can! Mom, you can’t deal with you own child, but a school teacher or day care worker who barely knows their name can handle them and 29 others without a glitch!
Right. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
But isn’t it also reasonable to assume that many parents struggle with the idea of dealing with their own children for no other reason than they’re completely out of practice at it!
Nearly a century has passed since compulsory education laws were put in place, so at least a few generations now have grown accustomed to sending their children off to school several hours per day. The materialism of our society makes matters worse by convincing many families they can’t survive on a single income, prompting both parents to work outside the home and spend even less time with their children. How can we possibly expect to have the wisdom and patience to impart morality and knowledge and proper discipline when we’ve not had the day-to-day experiences that develop the wisdom and patience in the first place?
Where my own homeschooling effort is concerned, I cannot underestimate the power of prayer. I learned early on that there is always grace and patience available to the soul humble enough to ask for it. But I’ve also been amazed at the ease with which my children and I have bonded as we’ve homeschooled together. Not to imply there are never days when my patience wears thin, but overall I’ve found that being with my children day in and day out is very…well.…natural.
They are my children, after all, and raising them and teaching them was a part of God’s design from the beginning. It isn’t rocket science; it’s good parenting. And good parenting and the patience that goes along with it, like all things of value, takes time to develop. But it can develop and, for me at least, it decisively debunked the “I-don’t-have-the-patience” myth!
My name is Tanya Holt. First and foremost, I’m a servant of Christ. Beyond that I’m a wife to Alika, my Hawaiian-born, Texas-raised husband whom I met in Pennsylvania, and together we’re raising and educating four amazing kids in my home state of Kentucky. I love to cook, frequent flea markets and junk shops, work in children’s/youth ministries, and write. You can follow my blog at www.kentuckysketches.blogspot.com where I love to muse about all of these things, along with my greatest passion–homeschooling.