In my last post, I commented about the surprising amount that we can learn about patriarchy from a character such as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. In it, I lamented that "much of the problem with today's families is that we have so moved away from the family owned enterprise. With men mostly working for another company, the vast amount of time that a man has during the week is spent away from his family. This has been compounded by moms working outside the home, and multiplied by parents outsourcing their Biblical mandate to instruct their children to a government or privately run school system."
Most homeschooling families are well aware of all of the reasons for wanting to home educate their children. In this regard, our story is nothing out of the ordinary.
I am so thankful that years ago, when Will and Sarah Grace were in the 2nd and 1st grades, Mandy had the wisdom to want to homeschool our children. At the time, I really did not fully grasp what a life changing decision it was. We were very concerned about some of the negative influences to which the children were being exposed, long before they were prepared to deal with them. Some of these influences were subtle, some, not so subtle.
At the time, I did not at all understand my God-ordained role as patriarch of my family. (By the way, let me touch on something now. When I use the term patriarch, it is used with a Biblical connotation. It is used to describe the servant-leader of the family, one who lifts up his wife and children; to serve and not be served. It is to look to Jesus as the model, as He is the head of the Church, and laid His life down for her. That is why I said in my last post that there is no place for chauvinism or male superiority in the concept of Biblical patriarchy.)
If I had understood my God-given role, I would have been much more attuned to these unwholesome influences, and I would have been more protective of my children. But there I was, not bringing them up in the way they should go, but outsourcing the children's education. And even though we lived in a great neighborhood, and the kids were going to a highly rated school, we were shocked one day by an incredibly lewd song Will learned from a neighborhood classmate.
You see, one of the problems with this "great" neighborhood, was that so many of the families were dual income households. And so we had a lot of latch-key kids, with absentee parents, getting into things they had no business doing. And then these kids were bringing these unhealthy influences into my family. Shame on me. We were so careful about what the children read, watched, and listened to, and then left the door wide open for a kid at school.
The funny thing is that one of the original knocks on home-schooling would be something along the lines of "Well, what about your children's socialization?," as if kids' socialization in a school setting is something to which we should aspire! I came out of a public school environment; Mandy came out of both secular and Christian private school. We both know what the environment was like then, and that was over thirty years ago. Does any parent really think (when they're honest with themselves and not making excuses) that this is a healthy environment for their children? I mean, really...what are parents thinking when they send their children into a place where they have to go through a metal detector as they enter the building? Is this really where children should be?
We've even heard some church-goers defend sending their children to school saying that their children are there to be witnesses for Jesus. How pitiful is their understanding of the Bible. Sure, Christians are always to be witnesses. But the Bible teaches that the only ones sent out are men, and two by two at that. God does not send women and children into the world.
And so, yes, I am concerned about the children's socialization, and want to be as careful about this as I am about every other facet of their lives, and that's one of the reasons we have been home-educating our children, like so many others around the country.
Another aspect that led us to decide to teach the children at home had to do with some of the unholy garbage being taught in school. I have no doubt that there are many teachers in schools that are well meaning, and may even claim Christ. But so much of the curricula is worthless at best, and downright harmful at worst. In our case, we learned about how, in the name of multiculturalism, the school wasn't just teaching, but celebrating the Chinese New Year, and that the teacher had given Sarah Grace her horoscope. (How 'bout sticking to reading, writing, and arithmetic since most schools are failing at that!)
It was soon thereafter that we decided that we could do a better job not only educating the children, but also bringing them up right. As the patriarch of my family, God expects me to be intimately involved with each of my children, nurturing, protecting, and developing them physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
But what has been most amazing about our experience in home education, was not just the avoidance of the negatives, but rather the unforeseen blessings that we've seen. There are so many that I could talk about, but one of the greatest benefits has been the closeness that the family has enjoyed.
Not that there are never any disagreements or hurt feelings. But there is an affection within the family that's hard to describe. It's seen in the little things. For example, when most teenagers are all about themselves, Will takes care of Webb every day. Webb is developmentally delayed. He isn't yet able to walk, talk, go to the bathroom, or take care of himself in any way. And as a ten year old boy now, Webb is quite a handful. And yet, Will takes care of everything Webb needs without complaint, every day. We never asked him or expected him to do this. He just took it upon himself when Mandy was pregnant with John, and he saw how difficult it was for her to lift him. And although Mandy tried to take care of Webb's daily needs after she delivered John, Will wouldn't let her. And he's done it ever since. (In the picture of the children at the top of the page, you can see Will gently holding Webb's face toward the camera so he can be seen.)
For her part, ever since she has been studying nutrition, Sarah Grace has taken a sincere interest in the nutritional needs of the children. She has not only been cooking with Mandy everyday, but has taken it upon herself to make a batter to soak overnight, and then get up as early as 5:00am to be able to prepare a whole grain breakfast for the family.
And the older children, especially the Big Four (Will, Sarah Grace, Spencer, and James) are very attentive to the spiritual and physical needs of the Young Guns (Webb, John, George, and Richard), and the Young Guns adore them for it.
So much so, that after Will and Sarah Grace took a distance learning course from Patrick Henry College, and were considering going there, the Young Guns and the rest of the family were distraught at the idea of the family being split up.
Will and Sarah Grace agreed that their hearts weren't in it, and decided instead to continue their education from home. Will is getting his bachelors degree in business via distance learning courses, as well as an associates degree in construction and property management, while also apprenticing locally. This will not only give him a great foundation for a variety of employment opportunities, but most importantly, it will prepare him for the family business that is our hearts' desire.
Sarah Grace is enrolled in USC's Culinary Arts program, which, when combined with her nutritional studies, is preparing her to be a keeper at home. And her exposure to the culinary arts will also be beneficial to the family should the family have a restaurant or an inn, which frequently comes up as a possible extension of the family business.
We knew that home educating the children was the right thing to do. We knew that, contrary to what the world teaches, it was important to teach the children that Christians as a whole, and a Christian family in particular, are to be dependent on each other, and to deeply need and long for each other. And all of this has tied in beautifully with my desire to fulfill my role as the patriarch of the family, and to lead us into that kind of unfeigned intimacy.