Below is the third and final slides of the survey. Above is a post showing all additional comments.
Survey Release #3
I am not going to lie; this part of the survey was perhaps the hardest of all for me to read and share, maybe surpassed only by the individual comments. The questions in this section I feel digs deep into the heart of home school.
The very first question in this section asks what these graduates perceived was most important to their parents, a)that their child was happy and fulfilled and on the path to success, b) that their child was living out certain ideals and convictions, or c) that both were equally important.
The way I worded the question was important because many conservatives I talk to say that their child’s happiness is important to them; but that they truly believe that the convictions/morals they hold are the key to achieving that happiness.
Parents who feel this and were actually able to communicate that to their children are represented by the 30% of respondents who said that both were equally important. (Remember, this was not a survey of parents, but of how children perceive the goals of their parents.)
7% responded that their happiness and fulfillment were most important to their parents.
What broke my heart when I read it was that over half of the entire group of grads did not feel that their happiness, fulfillment or success was most important to their parents. That is huge. That is significant. That is a game changer. As both a kid and a parent I think this is an absolute guarantee that your children will not respect, or value what you have to say.
I want to clarify that I am not even addressing whether these parent’s beliefs were in and of themselves valid, but I do want to point out two things. First; a parent who values (or communicates that they value) their ideals and beliefs more than their kid should expect their kid to pretty much ignore whatever they have to say. I honestly believe a parent can be a wonky weirdo and have a pretty good chance of passing their values and even a lot of preferences to their kids if they have a good relationship with their kid. (After all, what else explains some sport fans?)
Second; anyone who claims to have morals and ideals based in Christianity whose kids do not feel loved, valued and that their happiness is of utmost importance to their parents I believe are missing the entire point of Christian teaching.
So we are talking about parents who fought all social norms, and were willing to sacrifice personally to give their child something very specific. The way I see it we have only two real options. Parents who really did not care about their kids happiness, fulfillment, or success, and merely wanted control/or the ability to produce kids who believed exactly like they did whether they were miserable or not, OR these parents were willing to sacrifice it all for their kids, cared deeply about them, but were unable to communicate it. Either one is heartbreaking.
In the end, I am not sure if it really makes that much of a difference. Does it? As a parent I know the love and desire I have to see my kids happy and succeed; it is a driving force in my life, but the only thing that matters is if they see it. Do they SEE and know how much I enjoy them? How much I love spending time with them? How much I love seeing their own little personhood and identities emerge?
Do they feel that I trying to create a dutiful clone, who sees everything like I do, and learns to agree with all the views I have, or do they sense that I trying to raise independent individuals who I hope will understand and choose to embrace my core values?
Did home school grads feel their parents enjoyed home schooling? 60% said though it was difficult, that their parents loved home schooling. 28% said it was not really something their parents enjoyed, and 12% said it was something their parents felt they had to do.
While about 80% say they strongly agree with their parents on basic Christian beliefs, the only other two categories that rank above 50% in which they strongly agree with their parents are family relationships(61%) and (maybe most surprising given the ties between community home school leaders and conservative politics) political views barely broke the half way mark (51%).
In contrast, the area where the most home school grads strongly disagree with their parents would be specific conservative convictions (55%) followed by educational methods, life style preferences, and child raising and discipline which ranged from around 30-40%.
I found these two slides extremely telling in light of the fact that 68% credit the primary reason for home school as ‘to impart religious/moral beliefs’ and 52%‘to protect from worldly/secular influences’.*
Finally, for the most significant topic on which there is deafening silence in the home school community; are home school graduates choosing to home school their kids?
The numbers in my survey were pretty similar between those who have children over six, and those with younger or no children and are looking ahead. About 60something percent are choosing not to home school, and about 30something percent are choosing home education for their kids.
What is interesting is that 75% of graduates say that over all, home school was either a positive experience for them, (60%)or can be even if it wasn’t for them(15%), and yet still the majority are not choosing home school for their kids.
Next week will be the last survey release which will be comprised entirely of additional comments written by those who took the survey.
*Multiple answers were allowed so percentages may exceeded 100.