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Disappointed with homeschooling? Be encouraged.

Sometimes, homeschooling disappoints us.

It’s true that often, when we first start homeschooling, many of us envision our child going to college early or winning the National Spelling Bee. After all, homeschoolers make headlines all the time with such amazing feats. We see potential in our own children and our imaginations take flight with all the possibilities. Many times, the possibilities do become realities. But sometimes, we end up disappointed with homeschooling.

The musical prodigal we encouraged for years never does anything with his talent. The child we taught Scripture to, the child we modeled Christian living for, ends up living with her atheist boyfriend. Our hearts sink as our adult child walks away from his faith after attending college. (Here is a resource that will help him defend Christianity in college). We had hoped that our careful obedience to God would ensure that our children didn’t succumb to the world. Sometimes we wonder if it was all for naught. As a result, maybe resentment and bitterness grows in our hearts.

But, maybe we are disappointed with homeschooling because we started with faulty expectations in the first place.

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Disappointed with homeschooling because of our expectations

When I started homeschooling, I thought it would protect my children from bullies. I also thought that they would all avoid bad choices because they weren’t exposed to outside influences to the degree that public-schooled kids are. Many veterans at that time told me that homeschooling produced passionate followers of Christ, scholarly lifelong learners, and well-mannered citizens. So, all I have to do is teach them at home myself and I reap all these benefits? Sign me up, right? Well….

Homeschooling is not necessarily a cure for your child’s heart issues.

Wrong. Wrong. Homeschooling doesn’t necessarily save the day. A dear friend of mine struggled with this when both of her children graduated from her homeschool. One of her children chased boys, hated school, and abandoned her Christian upbringing. The other child bounced from job to job, never furthering his education. While all the rest of my children did fulfill the veterans’ “prophecies,” one of them ignored our stern warnings about a coworker’s advances and two years later, ended up a single mother at age 20.  It broke our hearts and we wondered if it was worth all the sacrifice, all the work we poured into her. We agonized over whether we did something wrong or missed some vital clues.

I expected homeschooling to produce specific results and in her case, I ended up disappointed with homeschooling.

But, God may use homeschooling as a means to cure your heart issues.

Tears flowed. All my anger and disappointment poured out at the foot of the cross. I gave up everything. I gave up a career, friends, family relationships, endured financial hardship, and for what? You told me to do this, God, and look what happened! Homeschooling was supposed to prevent this sort of thing. Did I do something wrong? I thought I shared wisdom, nurtured our relationship, taught her about you, Lord. Why?

And God may say something rather surprising and scary.

Maybe his reply is Don’t worry. I am doing something with her that has nothing to do with you. Do you really trust me or do you trust yourself?

I never promised everything would turn out the way you think it should. I didn’t ask you to homeschool for their sakes, but for yours

What?

Because, it’s not just about the kids!

I know you’re probably thinking, What do you mean that it’s not about the kids? Of course, it’s about the kids! And, you are right. It is about trying to bring up Godly offspring (Malachi 2:15), training them in the faith (Deut. 6:7), and setting them apart from the world (Matt. 22:21). Homeschooling is about strong family bonds and quality education. But, homeschooling in itself doesn’t guarantee anything. We still leave our homes, don’t we? Grocery store magazines, friends, billboards–we can’t shield them from everything. And, even church youth group can pose problems, but we don’t avoid church, do we? (On top of that, sometimes it’s false teachings at church that cause our children to doubt.) Let’s not forget that most of us went to public school and God still brought us to himself. Homeschooling improves the odds, but our efforts alone can’t do the job. That’s why we need Jesus.

So, what if it really was about more than the kids? What if it really was about your heart, your future? Maybe God called you to homeschool in the first place because He wanted you to depend on Him, He wanted to be first in your heart. He wanted you to give Him everything and trust Him.

Perhaps, like me, God wants to shower you with his blessings, blessings of healing.

a woman crying and another woman trying to comfort her when she was disappointed with homeschooling

Disappointed with homeschooling because it’s hard work.

As I mentioned, God can use homeschooling to bring the blessing of healing to our souls, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Having children around 24/7 and juggling home responsibilities, church commitments, and family learning often reveals things about ourselves that we didn’t even know lived in the depths of our souls. All the hidden selfishness, unresolved anger, childhood hurts, impatience, and other ugliness comes out. But, God desires holiness, fruits of the Spirit, surrender. He can and will use homeschooling to address our character, too. And, sometimes, we are disappointed with homeschooling because no one mentions anything about the soul work it demands.

When I started homeschooling, my oldest daughter was age 4 and my oldest son, age 18 months. My mind swam with fantasies about how great it would be. And, it has been great. But, my fantastic ideas in no way resembled my reality. Quitting crossed my mind more than once. I wasn’t just disappointed with homeschooling after what happened with my daughter 16 years after we began. No. There were times much earlier when I questioned myself because of the challenging and difficult times I had with my two sons. I expected a joy-filled, easy journey. I got joy, but easy? No.

I clung to Galatians 6:9, Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Things to remember when you feel disappointed with homeschooling

  • You will be held accountable for your own actions and decisions, not those of your children, and vice versa. If you have been obedient to God and you have presented the Gospel, but your child rejects God, that is not your fault. This fact comforted me. It’s about my obedience, not the outcome.

So, we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Cor. 5:9-10 NIV

  • You have planted the seeds, but it is God who makes them grow. You have no power to save anyone. This releases you from feeling responsible for your child’s choices. I taught my daughter (and all my children) about Jesus, about living for him, about God-honoring life choices. God has taken that and brought blessings from her bad choices.

So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace . . . Isaiah 55:11-12a NIV

  • Your plans are not God’s plans. Sometimes we are disappointed with homeschooling because it doesn’t turn out the way we planned. But, God planned it that way all along! This fact comforted me as I cried out to God about my daughter. He knew her path long before anything happened and he knew what he would do with her through it. God told you to homeschool because of His plan, not because you had great plans.

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. In his heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 16: 2, 9; Proverbs 19:21 NIV

When you are disappointed with homeschooling because your child walks away from his faith, remember…..

God works everything for good, even when all we see is a downward spiral. In the parable of the lost son, we read:

There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, “Father, give me my share of the estate.” So, he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So, he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. Luke 15:11-16 NIV

The next verse starts with “When he came to his senses.” After the young man gets his fill of the world and finds that it’s not all that he thought, he is reduced to the level of a groveling pig. Then, he comes to his senses. God allows us to grovel with pigs in order for us to finally see our great need for him. That may be what he is doing in your child. Trust him and pray unceasingly.

You obeyed and planted seeds. Let God do the rest and true passion and faith in Jesus will come forth.

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