Thursday, February 4, 2010

What Kids Really Need

During a rare, short, solo shopping trip that I took in an affluent community, Chris drove the kids through a high-end subdivision. The conversation they had was priceless.

Dad: What do you think of those houses, Asher?

Asher: They look like apartment buildings.

Dad: No, son, actually, those are single-family homes.

Asher: Those must be pretty big families who live there!

Dad: (suppressing chuckle) What would a small family do with a big house like that?

Acacia (the 3-year-old): Clean it!

Wisdom from the mouths of babes! 

Clearly, we live in a society of excess and misplaced priorities. We make sacrifices in the area of family life for the sake of having nice "things". We have huge, elaborate houses that we are never home to enjoy.

(Lest you read this and become upset with me, no, I am not against being wealthy. I am against monetary prosperity at the expense of other, more important things. There is a big difference.)

As home educators, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that we are not providing everything that our children really "need". 

People outside of our families may tell us that our kids are missing out on things that the public school experience could give them. Maybe you've had conversations, as my husband has, with people who say that you wouldn't have to struggle so hard financially if you would just put the kids in school and send your wife back to work.

Maybe you've started to wonder if you're really doing what's best for your kids.

While it may be true, in some ways, that we can't give our kids all the same experiences at home that they would have at public school, it is quite the leap to say that therefore, we should not homeschool. This mindset is based on a fallacy--one that holds up the conventional school paradigm as the ideal model. 

It ignores the fact that we are gaining a lot of good in exchange for what we might give up.

-Kids don't really need a highly trained staff of state-certified teachers to guide their learning experience...

...they need the kind of mentoring relationship and walk-along-the-road discipleship that can only come from loving parents.

-Kids don't really need a stack of expensive textbooks...

...the Book they need most is the Word of God. Most of the other worthwhile books can be obtained with a library card.

-Kids don't really need every minute of their day scheduled with academic work and extra-curricular activities...

...they need time to be creative, time to explore nature, time to learn how to work at home, time to "just be" with their families, and most importantly, time to worship God and serve Him.

-Kids don't really need to be on the traveling baseball/football/soccer team...

...they need to run around in their own backyard with their siblings, go for a walk in the woods, or have a catch with their dad.

-Kids don't really need a long list of "crushes", falling in and out of "love" a dozen times before they turn 18...

...they need to see real, unconditional, sacrificial love modeled to them by their mother and father. They need love and respect demonstrated to them in such a way that they know how a potential mate ought treat them, and how they ought behave around members of the opposite gender.

-And trust me, unless you're living in a tiny apartment on the wrong side of town (been there, done that), your kids do not really need a bigger house. They don't need a fancy new car, all the latest digital "toys" and high-end clothing to impress all their friends, either...

...what they need is YOU. No amount of "stuff" is going to be an adequate substitute for a mother who stays home with her children, and a father who is home enough to develop strong relationships.

...and no teacher or school, no matter how well-educated or well-funded, is going to do a good job taking your place...and if they do, then you've really lost out, haven't you?

Yes, there are difficult situations. If you're a single mom, juggling two jobs just to make ends meet, I feel for you! But, lets be honest, most of us are not there! We're rushing around, shipping our children off to a laundry list of daycare providers, babysitters, and school teachers instead of raising them and teaching them ourselves because we are trying to maintain our "lifestyle"--our material things--our STUFF.

"Do not love the world nor the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world,
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life,
is not from the Father, but is from the world.

The world is passing away, and also its lusts;
but the one who does the will of God lives forever."
I John 2:15-17

As always, the convicting hand of God points a finger back at me as I type this. I know there are areas of my life that do not come into line with this passage of Scripture. But, if I only quoted the parts of the Bible that I lived perfectly, I wouldn't have much to write about.

So, please, don't see me as a legalistic ogre or naive Pollyanna who doesn't understand your situation. Each of us needs to search the Scriptures, pray diligently, and evaluate the choices we are making in light of His Word. I only hope that we will start to realize that we need to make our lifestyle choices based on the Word of God, not on self-serving interests or cultural expectations.

The next generation is at stake, and The LORD is calling us to do right by these little ones.


Kevin Miller - said...

As always Tiana...I love your heart and perspective. This is great truth. I did build a 4,800 sq ft house, but hopefully I get grace on the big house by filling it with 7 kids! MUST read Seth Godin's new book 'Linchpin.' I'm not even halfway, but while it looks like a business book, he lambasts, with grace, the folly of the public education.

Anonymous said...

I love this. I am the oldest of seven, and this is how my parents raised me. I am very grateful for that blessing. I have so many opportunities ahead of me now because of their choices.

We lived for around three years in a little, 600-sq-ft cottage on 10 acres. We had our twins at the end of our time there, and so that was really crowded, but we loved it for that! Everything was a path or a shelf, as I remember. And we played outside a lot. But we didn't do it for looks. :)

Thank you for this encouragement, I am so grateful for people who stand up and do what they believe.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Sir Emeth Mimetes

Lindsay said...

Great Post.
My kids made the "they must have a lot of kids!" comment when going through a very wealthy area of Dallas. They couldnt believe it when I said most likely those families only had 1 or 2 kids in that big giant house!

Lindsay @

The Schulz Family said...

I read your posts off and on every week, sometimes going back to them when I need encouragement after an especially distressing week. This is my first year to homeschool, and my husband has also surrendered to the ministry... so it's been a life changing year. You make great points, and I throughly enjoy each post. We live in a small space for our situation, but my kids play more... and enjoy each other more than their friends and their siblings. I see it as a blessing, even as I renovate to rework our small space to make it work better for us.

Keep doing what you do!

AFwife99 said...

So very true, it all comes down to priority. The time with family is priceless. So many people rush around from activity to activity without even thinking about whether that activity is enriching their lives. It is hard getting out of the worldly mindset. Good post!

Carol Flett said...

Oh how true

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

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Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

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