Homeschooling is a Family Affair

Published with Permission

Written by Marilyn Rockett

With a good bit of apprehension, I started an ambitious project recently. I dismantled 20 years of family picture albums because the pictures were discoloring and because I had only one set of albums but four sons. Why didn’t I think years ago to assemble individual albums for my boys so each would have his own set by the time he was grown? Well, you know about hindsight.

As I reminisced while dividing the pictures among my sons, one thing stood out to me. There were a large number of pictures with the boys and their grandparents—sweet pictures of them giving a grandmother a hug, of an adoring grandson wearing his grandfather’s World War II Navy medals and sword, of a grandparent helping with some task, of a birthday or a trip shared with a grandparent, and the annual pictures of our family in front of a grandparent’s fireplace at Christmas.

Now that I have six grandchildren, the project also brought back many precious childhood memories of my own grandparents—of things they did or said. Isn’t this the way the Lord meant it to be?

A God of Generations

Scripture shows us that God is a God of generations. His message of love and grace is not confined to one isolated generation or group. In fact, he rebukes those who let His message die in their generation.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a familiar passage to many homeschoolers. It admonishes us to teach our children as we sit in our house, as we walk by the way, as we lie down, and as we rise up. Psalm 78:1-7 is another of the many messages of “passing on.” It tells us that fathers should teach God’s wonderful works to their children, so that the generation to come and even the children yet to be born may know and put their confidence in God. God designed the family so that we would hear the things we need to learn from our fathers and their fathers.

In the early 1980s when we began to homeschool, parents often endured the rejection of their own parents, who were convinced that their adult children had lost all good sense by deciding to home teach. Even with more universal acceptance of homeschooling today, you may be facing criticism from friends and family, especially grandparents.

Is it only an idealized dream that generations in a family can be united in the task of home educating their children? Can there be unity rather than division in an extended family? Will home education become a family tradition? Isn’t it closer to God’s design when we link the generations for the task?

I have heard heart-wrenching stories from families who desire their parents’ blessing in their efforts to love, protect, and teach their children. Many have faced criticism, rejection, and even excommunication from the extended family for their commitment to home teach. Conversely, grandparents have cried out to me that they have rejected homeschooling because their grown children have refused to associate with them or let them see their grandchildren because of trivial reasons, such as a minor difference in lifestyles (unrelated to sin issues). Surely this isn’t what the Lord wants for our families!

There certainly may be legitimate reasons to protect children even from grandparents in extreme circumstances, but aside from physical or ungodly harm to children, God desires for us to do all in our power to maintain a proper relationship with grandparents.

Family Unity

We have come far in over twenty years of the modern home education movement, but have we come far enough in uniting families? The very nature of home education is revolutionary in our time and is a different education option than immediate past generations have chosen. But God is a God of relationships and cares deeply about our families. While there may be differences between family members, He desires to teach each of us about His love, grace, and mercy through our extended families. The responsibility begins with us, the first generation of homeschoolers in our individual families, to bridge that gap.

Grandparents’ Questions

Grandparents often have legitimate questions and concerns, and it is our duty to respond to them with grace and patience while giving them time to adjust to our homeschool decision. Twenty years ago grandparents feared the legal ramifications of homeschooling. While this is no longer a problem, there are other questions and doubts, and we must remember that parents never abandon their concern for their children’s welfare no matter how old their children are. We see that in our own parenting experience, don’t we?

Underneath grandparents’ questions we often see a deeper parental concern or even fear. They may ask questions like these:

  • Why do you want to do this crazy thing? Public (or private) school was fine for you. Why not for my grandchildren?

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