From a reader, and we will be having two responses tomorrow from a homeschooler and a pastor:
What wisdom do you have for her? for the family?
I hope all is well with you. I hope too your new faculty position is proving to be a blessing and a wonderful and formative ministry towards those being trained for ministry roles in the church.
Your wisdom would be much appreciated. I find myself in a difficult position where a very dear friend of mine, along with her, husband are stubbornly refusing to follow the godly counsel of a group of friends (including two experienced pastors, one formally trained in therapy) who have quite independently given the same advice regarding their decision to homeschool.
Put simply, she and her husband are having tremendous problems dealing with conflict resolution in their marriage and ingrained patterns of behavior and expectations which are not conducive to a healthy marriage and family life. Issues are just shelved rather than resolved – only to blow up again and again at a later stage. Matters are compounded by the fact that the husband has to work away from home often. Things were already difficult for them when they had their first child, but now having had three more, their marriage is even more under stress.
However, my main concern is that their two oldest girls (8 and 6) are also being home schooled will little respite from the tension at home. The mother is simply not in an emotionally settled state to home school, and the children are somewhat isolated even from other children by being house bound and not taking part in group activities with other homeschooled children. I am a trained teacher myself, and I do not believe my friend has the temperament to home school. When home, he of course would rather just have fun and play with the kids. And more often than not they are not on good terms with each other.
Somewhere along the way, they have got it into their heads that ‘home schooling’ their children is the best and right thing for them to do as Christian parents. And this has blinded them to the actual situation. In holding on to this ideal they seem to be in denial of the many obvious emotional and educational issues in their current home schooling family environment. The ideal seems to be placed above the genuine needs of their children.
They have had others address these concerns with them, and those concerned come from a number of perspectives — professional as well. They even moved church because they did not like the pastor telling them it was unwise to home school when their marriage was under so much stress and in need of help.
Things are now getting worse with every home cycle from work becoming a tense situation in the home. It is now getting to the point where I feel something needs to be done. I have resolved to speak more frankly, even at the risk of my friendship, because it grieves me to see what is happening to the children. Grave concerns shared with me by some of her close friends and even family are now becoming quite apparent to me.
However, how much support do I give before I collude with her to the detriment of her children, and even their marriage? When does one say enough is enough? I feel torn. I love my friend and her children, but I can no longer support her in the destructive decision to stoically continue homeschooling, when in fact she is not coping and the children are suffering as a result. The oldest girl is already presenting quite dysfunctional and very needy behaviour. Continuing in the same vein for much longer will only make the problems more acute. It is already starting to impinge on the second child.
Not sure what I am asking. Definitely your prayers. Certainly for wisdom and courage. Any thoughts from experience caring for dysfunctional families would be appreciated. To be honest, my husband has even wondered if they should be reported to childcare authorities. Please feel free to post this if you think it might solicit some useful advice.