Some parents do a good job with homeschooling. Others need more guidance and accountability.
We used all three approaches to education (home, private and public). I am very glad that we have the freedom to choose the best path for our children. I also know many home schooled families who are deeply committed to doing well.
But I’ve noticed some areas of concern. One potential weakness in homeschooling is related to authority. Let me clearly say that I know many home schooled children who are very respectful of authority as with many public and private school children. My concerns are not meant to be directed to any specific situation (this post has been in the works for a long time). I am more interested in drawing attention to potential challenges (which I realize could apply to any home no matter the choice of schooling).
Yet when moms are the primary teachers and also carry most of the other household responsibilities, they easily become vulnerable to allowing their children to feed off their weariness and the sheer weight of their demands. In such an environment, children might learn to approach authority as something to argue with and wear down until they get their way.
Moms who jump at each demand of their children or who passively respond to precocious or disrespectful behavior are not parenting wisely. Children in such settings do not learn to respect authority properly and might even display this disrespect toward other adults — thinking they should jump for their desires.
If mothers and fathers do not decisively correct disrespectful attitudes and actions in their children, they set them up for troubled futures. If they tend to let their children consistently rationalize and make excuses for bad behavior, they do them a great disservice. Sometimes parents who homeschool strongly desire to believe that they’ve made a superior choice for their children and consistently doubt or deny their bad behavior.
Parents who prefer a fantasy version of their children rather than the truth must ask if they serve an image that is more important to them than the good of their children. This is especially dangerous and perpetuates more dishonesty in the lives of the children. These parents are typically the kind who do not seek help or counsel when faced with challenges, yet strangely are more than willing to tell others how to do things.
When children have to sit among many other students in classrooms, it often helps them realize they can’t be the center of attention and get their own way with enough whining. This is an important lesson for life.
In homeschooling, children must not be allowed to think that adults will jump for them at their every need or desire. Some moms mistakenly think that this is what it means to be a diligent mother. These moms risk the error of being child-centered parents. Such parenting fails to decisively correct the core of the sin nature – the notion that I am the center of the universe and everything should revolve around me.
Teaching children to respect authority is one of the most important lessons for life and perhaps for eternal life. If children will not respect human authority (something repeatedly taught in Scripture), why would you think they will respond with true submission to God’s authority? Rebellion is a big part of the sin nature and should be confronted and corrected not accommodated or excused. Accepting and making endless excuses for a child’s behavior is a sure way to set him up for failure in life. How will a this child be prepared for the truth claims of the gospel itself?
It’s said that half the battle in overcoming a problem is understanding it and admitting the need to change. This post is meant to facilitate honest discussions among parents who homeschool. Perhaps there are ways you have addressed these challenges that you could share with others.
Note: I could easily list downsides and potential negative influences in both public and private education. At the end of the day, parents are the most important and responsible ones for shaping a child’s attitude toward authority. But we all must be humble and honest enough to recognize potential weaknesses in the approaches we take toward education and parenting.
An interesting post from a homeschool mom: The Dangers of Homeschooling