A little soapbox. Sorry.
We had company here for lunch today, including one guest whom I hadn't seen in 14 years. Today's lunch was her second meeting with us in a week. Knowing Beth's diagnosis and observing Peter's neurological problems, she suggested I send Paul and Mary to school and just homeschool Peter, since that would be easier on me.
I knew to tread carefully because this guest, though a loyal churchgoer all her life, happens not to be an evangelical Christian. She believes that people are mostly decent and good, and as long as they don't do anything terrible, they'll be going to heaven.
Not wanting to hide my belief system, I briefly mentioned that I homeschool, in part, to ensure that my children develop their own faith in God, and that this faith grows and deepens, unfestered by worldly distractions.
She responded that if I raise them right, they will come back to what is right, even if they take a vacation from it. The Lord will always draw them back, she said. It is all up to Him. She added that homeschooled kids are probably just are vulnerable as others in terms of walking away from faith. (Statistics strongly refute this notion.)
It's important for children to be around other children, because so much of life requires interaction, she reminded me.
I said that my children interact with other children of various ages at least twice a week.....AWANA on Wednesdays, homeschool gym/fellowship on alternate Tuesdays, church on Sundays, playdates, and various homeschool events and library events sprinkled throughout the year.
I did not mention that my children also go everywhere with me, interacting with and watching me interact with, librarians, nurses, doctors, barbers, grocery workers, postal workers, and various business owners. Relating comfortably and respectfully with adults is important as well, yes?
I smoothly changed the subject by working on the mashed potatoes with her.
Homeschooling parents receive this feedback all the time. It's important to be patient and understanding of the different perspective, and not to be opinionated in return, but this same scenario over and over can be annoying, I must confess.
I think all people need to have a social circle, since God created us to need fellowship. It relieves stress, makes us feel loved and supported, takes our mind off of ourselves, and it's just plain fun, usually.
But, I completely disagree with the notion that without traditional school, a child is at a disadvantage socially. Parents and family teach interpersonal skills. Children haven't the capacity to teach healthy social skills to each other.
Yes, children can learn by trial and error how to fit into a certain acceptable mold, but fitting in isn't a social skill, and it isn't a Christian concept. Christ is the only "person" children need to seek approval from (to honor), aside from their own parents.
Jesus has a lot to say about how to relate to others, and His teachings are learned and reinforced in the home. They are hard teachings....most unnatural to the human condition.
I also disagree with the notion that a parent should choose the route that's easiest, just because it's easiest. I should send Mary and Paul to school because it would be easier on me? What excellent thing in life is easy? Every challenging thing God sends my way makes me stronger in Him. I need to have open arms. My spiritual growth depends on it.
These children are a gift from God. They aren't a right, but a privilege. I want to express my gratitude by honoring Him in my parenting, even when it's hard.
Our goal as parents is not to send our kids out to conquer the world with their stellar interpersonal skills, earning promotion after promotion in the process. Our goal is to send them out as world changers...as messengers of Christ's love and forgiveness. That's counter-cultural parenting.
Though my guest, 76 years old now, raised six kids and took them all to church, none ever developed any spiritual interest. None. But yes, they are decent people. Very nice people.
I want to raise very nice people, yes. But even more, I want to raise messengers.
Homeschooling is only one way I can honor God in my parenting. There are many ways; homeschooling certainly isn't for everyone. It doesn't matter to me what method of schooling a family chooses.
Just don't say that my choice puts my kids at a disadvantage socially, and don't suggest I change my mind just to make things easier on me.
Both are ridiculous.