Once upon a time, I had to stop reading “Biblical parenting” books and websites after I made the decision to quit spanking. If I read them, I would become frightened, and wonder if I was failing my children. With almost 2 years of gentle parenting under my belt, I have reached the confidence level where I can handle reading about other types of discipline. But now I find myself filled with anxiety and pain over homeschooling.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept. I’m glad that families choose to homeschool. Some of the gentle parenting blogs I follow also homeschool, and I’ve had a lot of fun reading about cool projects or ideas related to homeschooling.
But when I come across blog posts that argue strongly for homeschooling, I feel overwhelmed and depressed. Will my kids ever have time to play? Will they hate reading because they are in school? What if the education they get in school is sub par, maybe I can give them a better education that I got as a homeschooled kid. I read posts about bullying, or kids being trapped and bored day after day, and I feel guilty.
I remember the old messages engrained from childhood, “homeschooling is ALWAYS the best choice for children” “People who don’t homeschool don’t love their children enough” People who send their kids to school are being selfish” “Someday when you are a mom, you will understand why we made the choice to protect you from school”
I’ve never even been to school, I’ve only ever been told it’s evil, how can I consider sending my kids there?
And yet, I know myself. I have 4 little kids right in a row, I am very busy caring for their needs, and learning how to be the parent I want to be. I get hit with waves of depression and I have lots of memories related to homeschooling. It makes me feel panicky to even imagine teaching my children at home day after day. As an introvert, I have this tendency to shut down and hide when I am depressed or overwhelmed, so most of our homeschooling days would probably involve me hiding in a closet. Not exactly a great learning environment for children.
Homeschooling is not a good choice for me right now.
If that changes in the future, that can happen in the future.
My experience as a child, (coming from a background where it was better to inflict pain on your children than to allow them to make mistakes,) has given me an urge to prevent my children from ever feeling pain. Surely I can protect them from ever being hurt, and that includes school!
Recently, I’ve realized that I don’t have to do that
. I cannot prevent them from being hurt by life, sometimes life hurts.
(-Awesomely helpful article!) I can be there for them. I can be that safe place that they know they can always come to and be accepted and loved and comforted. I can teach them how to care for themselves and give themselves the comfort that will sustain them through the tough times in life. But I don’t have to keep them from ever having to face discomfort or disappointment. I don’t have to protect them from school.
I can be their encouragement and support as they learn new things from a new teacher. I can be their advocate when they face a bully or struggle with a certain teacher. Being an involved, loving and supportive parent who does not inflict pain, doesn’t mean that I must prevent my children from experiencing anything painful.
Since I know that I am making the right choice for me, I’ve had to limit my reading of books and articles that argue aggressively for homeschooling. I don’t mind reading posts from parents on why they love homeschooling. But just like I used to doubt my choice of gentle discipline in those early months, I get barraged with feelings of guilt and shame whenever I read about why I should homeschool my child.
I’ve also found it very helpful to read stories of people who have made the choice to send their child to school, especially if they used to homeschool. I feel a huge sense of relief to know that these people’s children are not languishing in the school system. So I thought I’d share a few of those links here, in case anyone else has the same doubts and fears that I do and could use some encouragement.
A Christian mom explain why they chose not to homeschool.
A Homeschool Mom decides to send her kids to school.
This mom explains beautifully the way fear can control our lives and our choices in unhealthy ways, including school choices.
This mom talks about how choosing not to homeschool changed her world for good.
This is a moving story of one moms choice to send her kids to public school.
Another post on Homeschool burnout.
Thoughts on using homeschooling to shelter kids.
A well thought out post on school choice.
Another Christian mom explains why she does not homeschool.
Here is a book I am hoping to get soon.
Do you have any books or articles that have encouraged you lately? Please share them in the comments!