The Real Reason
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By Maribeth Spangenberg
“Mom,” the irritated cry of my seventeen year old echoed down from her upstairs bedroom, “Micah got into my things again,” she complained about her little brother, “I told him to stay out of my room.”
“I’ll be up to deal with it as soon as I finish these math problems,” I echoed back. I took a deep breath, more like a heavy sigh, and turned my attention back to math, which I was reviewing with my fourth and fifth graders.
“It’s my turn to answer the next problem,” the younger one said, “he answered the last one.” It definitely makes the load easier when I can sit down with two at one time, yet it’s a challenge not to have them compete with each other.
“Hey, I called the science book first.” I heard another confrontation brewing in the next room. “Mom,” my fourteen year old suddenly appeared at the kitchen table, “as soon as I said that I wanted to do science, Jon ran and got the book first.” At eighty dollars a book I couldn’t afford two, and being only a year apart in age, it made more sense to have them both do Physical Science at the same time.
“Jon,” I reprimanded, “You know what you did wrong. Give AJ the science book and you start reading your history. Then when you’re both done, switch.” Having also combined their US History, I attempted to squelch a future argument with that subject, also.
Completing math, I then sent those two off to do their individual spelling lessons, while I ventured up the stairs to view the perceived damage done by my seven year old upon his senior high school sister’s possessions.
Why can’t my children just learn to get along? Why do they have to argue? Why can’t they always respect each other’s privacy? Why do these issues have to interfere with my homeschooling?
But wait a minute! Interfere? These “issues” ARE important reasons TO homeschool. If I am only homeschooling for the academics, then I am missing the big picture! What about godly character and spiritual training? Without these, the academics mean nothing. Anyone can be taught to spout off intelligent, memorized answers, but character, that is what makes an individual stand out; and, when spiritually grounded, it can prepare our child to be a useful tool in the Lord’s service. THIS should be our number one goal as Christian homeschooling moms!
Catching this vision it sometimes means that the “book learning” needs to take a “back step” to “personality flaws”, as I sometimes call them, although we are actually dealing with “matters of the heart”. And when we have the blessed opportunity to homeschool a number of children at the same time, these “heart matters” will be brought to the surface more quickly, and with greater frequency, as situations to interact with siblings occur. What greater opportunity to learn social skills, as the world terms it, than within our own family, behind closed doors, away from the world’s scrutinizing and often critical judgments.
Granted, these “personality flaws” are not pleasant to deal with, and it would be so much easier to teach, complete lesson plans, and finish the day’s assignments without having to deal with them. After all, we have other things that need our attention, like laundry, dishes, meals and cleaning.
But when we really stop to think and ponder and truly examine the REAL reason for homeschooling, the ultimate purpose for which the Lord put this conviction on our hearts; if we are truly seeking HIS will and direction for our children’s lives, we will realize that it is to make our children fit for HIS service, to be shining lights in a dark world, drawing those around them to the Savior. This is MY heart’s desire!
When competition, arguments, and invasion of privacy occur, we need to view them as opportunities to teach our children the Biblical way to respond. This includes the offender and the one offended. Both extremes need to be addressed, as both the temptation to offend and the occasion to be offended will be encountered in the real world and life in general.
Fight the urge to get frustrated and discouraged when you endeavor to put spiritual training as the priority. Academics are not a threat to Satan, but the attaining of Biblical knowledge is! Seek God’s grace for steadfastness in purpose.
Yes, you may fall behind in your projected goals for the book learning or household chores, as you put everything on hold to deal with the sibling bickering over a textbook. It will be far more beneficial to both offenders in the end, when they learn the principle of sharing and gain an insight into the concept of time management.
Of course, it will take more emotional energy to be an arbitrator between teenager and little brother. Respecting the rights of others to their privacy and personal belongings needs to be taught and understood as young as possible. When transgressions occur, an apology needs to be made, along with either time-out, financial retribution, a composition written addressing the offense, and/ or Biblical admonition. This could also be seized as an opportune time for us as mothers of young adult daughters to reinforce that offenses don’t necessarily need to be responded to with yelling and screaming. We could also be setting the stage as an example to a hopeful, future mother in how to deal with her own children someday in the future.
Regarding academic competition, this is another reason why I am homeschooling, so that my children can be individuals, non-labeled, progress at their own pace, and have the freedom to explore their interests without being burdened with the nonessentials. I consider a little competition among siblings to be healthy because it is non-threatening within our own family. If I, as the mother and teacher, do not allow it to become a comparison issue, or one that can be taken as threatening to their abilities or character, then slight rivalry can be turned into a useful tool for motivation.
We, as Christian homeschooling mothers, need to realize that God’s ultimate purpose for this movement is not purely academic, although Christians are certainly needed in all aspects of secular life. When academics are not presented with a spiritual foundation, or tempered in light of God’s plan for one’s life, disaster often follows in the form of pride and self-will.
As homeschooling mothers, God has given us a tremendous way to avoid these pitfalls in our children’s lives. When we prayerfully seek His guidance and direction for our children, when we view opportunities for spiritual character development as welcome blessings rather than bothersome intrusions, and when we see our children and family as a ministry instead of just another course of life, then we will be able to sense God’s Hand in using US as His instrument to prepare our children to be godly leaders and examples in the next generation.
Copyright © 2004 Eclectic Homeschool Association