Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sacrifice is its Middle Name

Going through some old stacks of papers in storage a few years ago, I found a two-page essay I wrote in college making a vehement case against homeschooling. Oh, how far I've come since then. And the rest of society has, too. At that time, the vast majority of folks thought homeschooling was wacko. By the time I was considering it for my own daughter fifteen years later, friends I spoke to about it had varying opinions. Some thought it was a great idea; some strongly dissuaded me.

(One neighbor asked me, "Do you really think you can teach better than a professional teacher?" Well, do I think I can teach a class of second-graders better than a professional second-grade teacher can? No. But do I think I can teach my second-grade daughter at home better than a professional second-grade teacher can teach her in a classroom full of second-graders? Absolutely.)

But these days, there are very few out-and-out naysayers. Even diehard public school advocates recognize the success that homeschoolers have had over the years and acknowledge that there are cases where homeschooling is a viable option, maybe even the best option.

Yet, I still meet folks in difficult situations with their children's schooling, situations that seem to scream at them, Bring him home! Take him out of that place! . . . and they hesitate. Some of them more than hesitate -- they flat out refuse to even consider the idea.

I understand. The decision to bring my daughter home was a big one. And there have probably been people out there who have tried homeschooling and regretted it (although I've never met any -- some that decided to send their kid back to school eventually, but they still said the experience at home was a good thing).

But what concerns me is that most of these parents are not keeping their kids in school because they've considered all the options and public school came out on top. Most of them haven't even allowed themselves to seriously consider all the options -- because they're afraid of what they'll find. They're afraid to discover that the thing that's best for their kid is something that they don't want to do. A sacrifice they don't want to make.

Yes, I'm calling them selfish, but don't everybody get all offended. All parents are selfish; we just manifest it in different areas of our family life. People call me out on my selfish ways, and I'm grateful for it (eventually). So, I have no qualms about making the statement here: if your kid needs you to give up some income, career advancement, material things, and free time for a few years to give them the education they need . . . if your kid needs you to step up and try something that sounds difficult and scary to help them grow into who God made them to be . . . well, friends, that's parenting. Parenting is difficult and scary, and sacrifice is its middle name.

A Facebook friend recently posted a meme with a saying that I'd like to have tattooed inside my eyelids so I never forget it: "Great things never came from comfort zones." Parenting doesn't have a comfort zone. Mothers and fathers are always taking risks and stepping out in faith.

I always say, homeschooling is not for everyone. But if the present situation seems unliveable, maybe that's because it's not where you're supposed to be living.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that this comment comes out of your privilege.....and I Love you just the way you are wouldn't want you to change.....but if you NEEDED that income to survive.....or were a single parent.....then sacrifice wouldn't be it's middle name it would be ridiculous. Where I live, even with some single parents who are not working while they look for work, their educational level makes it silly to home school. So while it might work for two parent families who can squeak out affording it, it won't for others and there is no amount of sacrifice that will make it so.

GJK said...

Anonymous - thank you for loving me just the way I am (whoever you are!) ;)

I just want to point out that I stated pretty clearly that homeschooling is not for everyone. Apparently, whenever I write about homeschooling, I need to put that caveat in bold and underline it, because I always have somebody who comes back to me defending themselves as to why they could never homeschool. I'm well aware that there are folks for whom homeschooling is simply not an option. More power to you working within the public school system. That's why we need to keep making that system better.

My point was that there are some, however, for whom it IS an option and is the BEST option and they need to be honest with themselves about why they are rejecting the idea.

That said, I will also add that there are many single parents out there homeschooling. And many working parents homeschooling. And there are many homeschooling parents with limited educations themselves who are figuring out how to use resources out there to move their children beyond where they themselves landed. They amaze me. I don't know if I could have that commitment, but I'm sure their kids are glad they do.