There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
When people learn that we home school our children, I often get comments like this: “I could never do that…..I could never spend that much time with my kids….We barely get through their homework in the evening without killing each other, so how could we do it all day long?….I’m not like you―I don’t have enough patience.”
There are two false assumptions in these responses. #1) Because I home school, I must be a naturally patient person, not prone to anger or frustration. #2) If I don’t enjoy my children now, or find them easy to be with, that will never change.
So let’s start with the first assumption and clear up some things right away. I am naturally impatient, prone to anger, and easily frustrated. Friends will say, “I can’t imagine you being like that!” Well, they haven’t lived with me. Most of us can put on a good face in public for short periods of time. We all have a tendency to project an image of being in control, of having it all together. When we act this way, we do ourselves and each other a disservice. We need to be transparent and real, sharing our struggles and encouraging others to do the same. Then others will be willing to ask questions like, “What do you do when your kids won’t do their homework?” “How do you get your kids to do their chores without threatening them?” “How do you get your kids to obey without counting to 3?” “How do you stop the bickering and fighting between the siblings?”
I know this stuff goes on in your homes, because it goes on in mine, and I’ve talked with enough of you to know this is a universal problem. When I got married, the transition wasn’t a difficult one. Dave and I were both reasonable adults who loved each other. But then along came the children. They were unreasonable little creatures and though I always loved them, sometimes I didn’t like them. They brought out the ugly in me. The ugly was always in there, but like a tea bag, no one could see my real coloring until it was put in the hot water.* The kids didn’t make my heart full of anger and sharp words—they just revealed what was already there. The truth is, I am a sinner living with a bunch of other sinners.
So now that the truth is out, what do we do about it? Manage the best we can? Consult the latest psychology book? Ship the little sinners off to school so we don’t have to deal with them (and ourselves) anymore? Well, that will be addressed in the next blog post, as we address assumption #2: whether or not we’re stuck with the current state of our family, or if there is hope for change.