Friday, June 21, 2013

10 Reasons Not to Home School #2

Because you are protecting your kids from secular/worldly/dangerous influences….

      Ironically, though not said in just these words,  this is one of the tops reasons I have heard many parents give for wanting to home school, second only to wanting to give their children an education that incorporates their religious beliefs.

    I assumed that it was perhaps a desire strongest in my parent’s generation, the early pioneers of homeschooling in the early ‘80s who had seen a lot of changes in the school system happen in their own experience in the 60’s, a time when prayer was removed and the shift in education was decidedly secular.

   Recently though I spoke to a newly married couple with a baby who echoed the protectionist arguments so strongly I felt caught off guard. They both listed examples in their childhoods of school bus companions, school events, and babysitters that impacted them deeply in damaging ways.

   They’re passion to protect their children from the evil around them was fervent. To my comment that I believed public school could be a good option they strongly reacted. They said my view point was naive, - that I had no idea what things were like, or what really went on in public schools.

      I know I was sheltered. I know I did not experience what they did. But I certainly do not credit that with my Christian walk today. And there I believe lies the key.

     Interesting to me, (admittedly speaking from the ‘over-sheltered’ point of view) is that so many of those who seem the most zealously protectionist  are those who felt their own parents did not protect them enough. Looking at the scars that other’s sinful acts left on their own young souls, - they are determined  that nothing like that should happen to their own. It is admirable, and right for a parent to wish this.

     However I do find it interesting that these parents do not seem to realize what a walking contradiction they present.

       On one hand, they point to the influence of others as negatively affecting their life, and yet they stand as strong believers, moving forward in their faith. They may have had to face exposure to sin and hurt early, and in difficult ways, - but they learned the reality of sin, and learned there is a God who is bigger.

  I understand the desire to spare your child needless pain and hurt. It is natural for us to want to give our children everything we wanted and could not have, (if in our power as parents to give it) whether it is material things, - time and affection, - protection and guidance, etc.

   Where the danger lies I believe, - is in Christian parents thinking there is any way to ‘give’ Christianity to our children, - either through works of ‘right living and good deeds’, or by default- ‘careful avoidance of certain sins’.

    You cannot protect your child from sin and depravity. Home schooling shelters a child from outside exposure for a bit longer (or in some cases much longer)  than other children may experience, - but ignorance is not purity.
   Ignorance is not purity.

  Sin and depravity exist in your home, because your home is full of sinners. They may be cleaned up, plaid shirt- khaki wearing, soft spoken sinners, but they are still sinners who need God.

   Your child is not blank slate, or a perfect and priceless piece of art that you should hide under a sheet in the back room of your house lest some other sinner lean up against them and smudge them, forever staining them. Your child is a living, growing thing, - rooted in the filthy dirt of his own humanity, - stretching up and out, - seeking the Son.

  Hidden away from outside influences, from the winds and pelting rain, - from hail and frost, and the blistering rays of the sun, - your child will not be scarred, bruised, or blown. But neither will they grow. Stunted, spindly, the seedlings kept from the harsh world outside for too long become far too weak to ever leave the protection that shelters their weaknesses. 

   Right here many parents would say, - “I agree, - but I don’t plan on keeping them protected forever, - just until they are strong enough to stand on their own” and then it becomes an argument of what age a child is morally strong enough to ‘stand’.

   I believe a child that is old enough to know they are being kept from other’s sinfulness is old enough to recognize the hypocrisy in that view, because they are old enough to recognize their own.
 I believe this occurs much younger than many parents realize.   

   Part of a child’s basic growth and development is to learn to recognize sin for what it is in themselves, and others. Their ability to know what do with their own human sinfulness is largely determined by how they have seen you relate to the sinfulness in others.

    If they perceive that you have arranged your world in a way that avoids certain kinds of sinfulness, and shields yourself and your children from them, it is easy to conclude that it is not sin that is a problem, - it is the KIND of sin, and children are quick learners. They will do their best to make their sinful instincts acceptable to your social standards.

     If they perceive that you view them in any way as an innocent perfection to be protected from other’s they will gather their value is based on their lack of certain glaring faults or failures.
It is a heavy burden to place on a child. Believing your worth is determined by what you have NOT done in life is the surest way to create the proudest, most arrogant, and yet completely insecure individual you can meet.

   A child who is not confident in who they are, - who cannot trust their heart,  who has not been allowed, - even ENCOURAGED  to make the choices, weigh the costs, and made the mistakes for themselves, will be overcome. 
External pressures matter little compared to the internal strength they posses.

   So what then is the answer? Am I saying we should not even try to shield our children from exposure to less desirable influences even in their highly impressionable youngest ages?

No. I am saying it should not be the reason you choose to home school.  You cannot protect you child from all things that will discourage and damage them.  And if you tell me, - ‘Yes it is, - the only people around my child are family and a few carefully picked friends, - there is no one in our lives who can cause them damage!”  Then you yourself, dear parent, are their biggest source of difficulty. Your child cannot wait to leave the suffocating cocoon where you have placed them.

  Our job as parents is not to set up a false safe world that coddles and caters to our child. Our job is to teach them how to handle a world and people that are not safe or kind.  What your child needs is a strong parent to teach them how to handle the hard things they will face in life. They need a parent to teach them how to handle their own emotions, positive and negative in a healthy way.

    Please do not view homeschooling as a safe place that shields you the parent from doing the hard but most desperately needed necessary parts of parenting.-  Please do not try to raise your child in a way that prevents them from experiencing hurt or fear. Please realize that if you do choose to home school you are actually going to have to work much harder than the average parent to ensure that they have a broad social life, and life experiences. It will be something you have to fight for- it will be much easier for you to choose a quiet, small, protectionist lifestyle because it isn’t as much work for you, - at least for a while.

     Homeschooling is not the answer to a problem.  It is not protection from your fears.  It is just another set of problems that must be faced. Pick your battles. Be honest with yourself, - examine your own heart. Are you wanting to home school so you don’t have to deal with something? What are the things that hurt and damaged you the most as a child? Was it bullying, peer pressure, inappropriate exposure to sex, a terrifying movie you saw way to young, or even a relative that hurt you? Do you know how to handle those things now? Do you know what you would say to your child if they experienced the same thing?

 Please don’t home school out of fear.
 Please don’t do it to protect you and your child from the realities of life.

    I would love to hear your thoughts. What role did ‘protectionism’ play in YOUR decision to send your children to public, private or home school?  Do you feel that your parents did a good job teaching you to handle the hard parts of life? What do you want to do differently for your children?

If you enjoyed this , please check out the ten in the series called 10 Reasons not to Home School found here...

Linking up with-


  1. um.......brilliant. I love this. I love that you make me think about these things now, before I have to make that decision for my kids. Someday, if God blesses me with kids, I hope I can be 1/2 the Mom you are.
    love you, like TONS!

  2. wow - i absolutely love this! this is something i've struggled with balancing my thoughts on - what's healthy protection and what's overboard :-) weird question - is there anyway that you could put a photo on this post? i like to pin articles/blog posts that i want to look back on, but there isn't a pic...

  3. Thanks for your feedback Amber - love that you took the time to comment! I love your question, and am so glad you brought it up because I like doing the same thing but didn't even think about it when posting I'll try to get a picture up soon, and also in future posts. Its great to know I'm not the only one who has been trying to think this all through!! :)

  4. I was homeschooled from the age of 4-17. My parents homeschooled us for all the wrong reasons . I am now a
    Parent my husband and i plan and look forward to homeschooling out children .bcause I saw firsthand how wrong homeschooling can go I feel confident in the Lord
    That it's possible to homeschool in a
    Correct way that is God glorifying.

  5. Sorry for the spell check errors !

  6. thanks for sharing your experience! Unfortunately it is not that uncommon. I am thrilled to hear that you are excited about homeschooling your own children with a different perspective. I too believe it can be done in a healthy way- that is why I am not only homeschooling, but am writing uncomfortable things! best of wishes to you and your family!

  7. I would humbly suggest that you consider your tone a little more as you continue with your series. I understand that you are coming from an unique perspective as a second generation Homeschooler, however, as I read though this piece I felt as though some places you were saying "well just throw your kids out to the wolves so that they learn how to fight them off"

    for instance:
    "Hidden away from outside influences, from the winds and pelting rain, - from hail and frost, and the blistering rays of the sun, - your child will not be scarred, bruised, or blown. But neither will they grow. Stunted, spindly, the seedlings kept from the harsh world outside for too long become far too weak to ever leave the protection that shelters their weaknesses. "


    "Was it bullying, peer pressure, inappropriate exposure to sex, a terrifying movie you saw way to young, or even a relative that hurt you? Do you know how to handle those things now? Do you know what you would say to your child if they experienced the same thing?"

    In the first you seem to say that kids should be thrown out to be trampled by the world so that they can pick themselves up after they are hurt and be able to deal with the harsh realities of life. Toughen them up so to speak so that they can stand later in life.

    In the second you seem to say that just because a person is able to deal with an experience 10-20 years after the fact it justifies the person going through it. I can tell you from experience that unhealthy exposure to sex in elementary school did not help me learn how to treat women with respect. I treat women with respect because I was taught the truth not because I was exposed to early and learned how to deal.

    I know that many people are not able to rub dirt into the wounds of childhood and pick themselves up to face a harsh world. And that many people are still traumatized by things that happened 30 years ago and it hinders their ability to function in life. This may be one of the reasons that one in ten American's use anti-depressants.

    I'm not saying that you are wrong when you state "Homeschooling is not the answer to a problem. It is not protection from your fears. It is just another set of problems that must be faced." but I would humbly suggest that you work on your wording.

    I agree that we should not hide the realities of the world from our children, however it would be unloving in the extreme to knowingly endanger our children because we want them to learn how to stand up to the evils that prey on children in our world on their own.

    You don't send solders starting boot camp onto the front lines of battle. You train them first how to be solders then you release them when they have been trained.

  8. Thanks for you input Nathaniel.
    I definitely do not support children being hurt or damaged.
    My point was that parents are not capable of preventing all wounding and damage.
    A parents key role is to teach their child how to handle unwelcome sin/hurtful behavior.
    I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts, - it is great to have male perspective! thanks again!

  9. "Protection" did not play a huge role in our homeschool choice. Since I was homeschooled and my husband did Christian school all the way, we were both very sheltered, however that all came tumbling down when we eventually had to enter the world. We are "in" the world but not "of" the world. Thankfully our homeschooling so far has allowed us to still expose our kids to other things and other people. The other day I we were on a homeschool field trip to the low tide at the ocean, our group had left, but we stayed on to eat our lunch. There were still lots of people there that were not from our group. A mom had a newborn baby and saw I had a baby and we started talking and our kids started playing. Then another woman joined us, she was her partner and they had 3 kids together. I didn't leave right away, we kept talking. Once we did leave my 6 year old started asking questions. We talked as a family, it was great. Not only did my kids get to talk to us about it, they also got "a face" is what I like to call it, they know other kids who live differently than us. I just thought it was kind ironic that they were exposed to that on a homeschool field trip, goes to show that you CANNOT truly shelter your kids, unless you never leave the house.

  10. Hi,

    I agree that homeschooling isn't some magical way of ensuring that our kids will be "perfect" - we are all sinners in need of God's grace yes. But I must say that homeschooling DOES protect our children from being exposed to certain things too early, too much or in an inappropriate way. There is a HUGE difference between meeting some kind of sinful idea/behavior briefly or in a context of careful guidance and being exposed to worldly ideas and behavior continually and for long stretches of time, and unaccompanied...

    I definitely homeschool to shelter my kids' young and influencable minds as much as possible, launching them into the world gradually and seeking to maintain as healthy an environment as possible for them, for as long as possible. They will encounter the world and all it's bad sides soon enough, no need to push it on them before necessary :)

    There is a huge difference again between trying to totally avoid sin and - gasp -sinners, and simply trying not to yoke with it ;-) Bad company corrupts good morals...

    I think the protective argument is a perfectly reasonnable and legitimate one. But as with anything, the problem lies in the over-zealous version of it, I suppose.