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Idols of a Homeschool Mother's Heart

I love homeschooling. I loved it as a student for 13 years, I love it as a second-generation homeschool mama at the beginning of her own journey, I love writing about it, creating tools for it, and more recently, co-authoring a book about it!

Homeschooling consummates the passion and zeal we have to instruct the little souls God has entrusted us with. Nevertheless, it would be naive of me to dismiss homeschooling's challenges or pretend that my propensity to particular idols doesn't exist. The devil does what he can to transfer our worship from the One who gives life and purpose to our homeschool to that which turns us in toward ourselves and leaves us feeling empty, dry, and deflated.

The idols of one mother's heart might look different than the idols of another, but here are two common ones and how we can fight against them. Note that there is nothing inherently wrong with desiring well-behaved, intelligent children; our desire only becomes destructive when we give it more attention than it deserves.
Idol #1: Well-behaved children .

Your child is shy? It must be because she's homeschooled.

Your child is hyper? It must be because he's homeschooled.

Your child has tempers, talks too much, dresses like a geek, and uses uber nerdy words? Obviously it's because he's homeschooled.

Truth is, I don't want my child labeled, or awkward, a misfit, or the odd one out and I certainly don't want to be the one to blame for their behavior. So sometimes I idolize what I want them to be and who I want them to become. Maybe if I can raise perfect, socially acceptable children (whatever that is), then I won't be "at fault" for keeping them home.

However, when I start believing that I am solely responsible for how my children behave, I forget that sin lives within each of their hearts and that only God's grace is powerful enough to overcome it. If I consider myself to be the solution, I have idolized both my children's behavior and my parenting abilities... and attempting to raise children outside of God's help is guaranteed failure.

Well-behaved children are solely the result of God's grace at work in their lives and His undeserved blessing on our weak and imperfect obedience to His promises and commands:

  • "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6
  • "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4
  • "Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." Proverbs 29:17
  • "The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother." Proverbs 22:15

I can't explain the dichotomy but it goes something like this:
"Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." ~ Augustine Idol #2: Smart children .

Similarly, we homeschool moms often fall into the trap of idolizing smart children - especially if we don't have a teaching degree.

Despite statistics that tell us a teaching degree makes no difference in the education of a homeschooled child, we still feel a need to "prove" ourselves to people who knock homeschooling without taking a look at its incomparable track record (see also here). If our kids are smart, then maybe people will believe we're intelligent enough to homeschool.

Ironically, we feel that the way to make others understand that we're not ripping our kids off on their education is to abide by the school's schedule, use the school's curriculum, adopt the school's teaching methodologies, and do everything opposed to the very reasons most folks homeschool in the first place!

If we are parenting according to God's promises, we ought to expect good behavior from our children; certainly teaching them to apply themselves to their studies so that they can use the gifts they've been given for God's glory is an eternally rewarding goal.

But the moment our desire becomes an idol, the moment the performance of our children and how it is viewed by the watching world holds more sway over our hearts than God's unique plan for their lives, the moment we make things about us, our pride, our reputation, our success - at that moment, we begin to erect a barrier between our homeschool and the God who demands the whole of our worship on one hand and offers everything we need for life and godliness (including the raising of our children) in the other (Exodus 20:3; 2 Peter 1:3).

If we make God play second fiddle in our homeschool, the music will cease. The noise of and stress of finding the perfect parenting methodology and curriculum, satisfying the standard of a culture whose worldview yours shouldn't resemble, and pressuring your children to meet the expectations of people who really don't care about them will drown out your vision and sap your joy.

How do we get rid of these idols?

Crowd out any room for them with God.

If we saturate ourselves in God's Word and clothe ourselves in prayer, not only is the foothold for idols removed, but we will be immersed in precious promises that give clarity, purpose, and vision to our homeschool. The desire for socially acceptable, smart kids will fade into the background when we understand that nothing is more important than their salvation and a humble and joyful obedience to the law of God, socially accepted or not.

What's drowning your vision and sapping your joy? Give it over to the Lord and let Him receive the worship your soul craves to give.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:10-18 ___________________________
Looking for more homeschool encouragement? Check out our brand new book, Homeschooling Day by Day which I was honored to co-author. It's 40 chapters of realism, practical advice, and plenty of grace from Moms on every stage of the journey. You can purchase your copy for $4.99 or read the Table of Contents here.

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