Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Are Homeschoolers Difficult?

May 9, 2007

We’ve been talking about this lately around here, specifically in regards to homeschoolers in churches. Several of us have been unhappy or perhaps irritated with our youth programs at our various churches. But we’re all hesitant to speak up because we don’t want to be known as the “complaining homeschoolers.” Recently I read a post here on HSB from a (homeschooling) mom whose husband is in the ministry, and she mentioned that in their experience, homeschoolers are the most vocal critics.

Boy, that stings. My friends and I have been mulling this over lately. Why have we (homeschoolers in general) gained a reputation as complainers in our churches? Recently a homeschooling friend overheard her youth minister talking to another parent about a new program. The parent asked him if he’d received any flak for this particular program (it was an evolution/creation thing) and he replied, “No, only from all the homeschoolers.” The friend later inquired of all but two of the homeschooling families to ask if they’d complained. None of them had. So, at the most, two families had complained. Hardly “all the homeschoolers” at this large church.

So where’s the line? Homeschoolers are generally an independent lot. We probably question the status quo more than the “average” parent; after all, we buck the system every day in a major way by choosing this “radical” form of education. It would stand to reason, then, that if today’s church educational programs follow the trends of society’s educational programs, we, as homeschoolers, will battle dissatisfaction.

What do we do with this? Let’s say that you are in a church where the kids regularly watch a movie during Sunday School. All the parents are fine with this, except for you—the lone homeschooler. Do you speak to the youth director and express your unhappiness that kids are watching TV during Sunday School? Do you decide not to allow your child in Sunday School anymore? Or do you just suck it up and put up with movies during Sunday School? (Remember, you are the only parent who has a problem with this.) Options 1 and 2 may brand you as a complainer or troublemaker. And with Option 3, you have to really, truly suck it up, or your dissatisfaction will lead to anger and resentment.

I read on one blog recently that “homeschoolers are about the worst group to please in a church because they do think.” I really don’t go to church to be pleased. I don’t want my kids to go to church to be pleased. I want my kids to be servants—to learn to shed their own selves and put on Christ. To open up their arms to a world that desperately needs compassionate workers. To seek God’s wisdom and follow His path.

I once had a minister laughingly call me “high maintenance.” I’m not sure he was really joking. That was several years ago, and since then I’ve learned to just let things roll off my back. It’s much easier that way. It scares me that I just wrote that. But still, the conversation inevitably comes back to this: how do homeschooling parents, square pegs ourselves, fit our families into church youth programs that reflect a public-schooled world?

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - From a fellow square peg...

Posted by anotherblogonthefire (IP Not Logged)

I found myself coming to the same conclusions about why we may be pegged as complainers. I agree that it is a general dissatisfaction of the system - whether it be the public school system, the Sunday School system or the economic system where we buy what we can't afford with money that is not ours (though I struggle with this one, because I want all the stuff that all the other Christians can't afford either!). I think that is why we have a hard time fitting in at our church. I don't find that there are very many like-minded to us here. We share the same faith, but not all of the same values.
So how do we not come across as complainers? I don't know... I often just find myself saying "Sucks to your ass-mar" and doing what we feel is right and trying to ignore everyone else.
Very Christian of me, eh?

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - We are such an inconvient bunch...

Posted by eclecticityTia (IP Not Logged)

making noise and our presence known all hours of the day, thinking about how we live and what we all gets very much in the way of trying to organize a herd, doesn't it?

OKay, enough sarcasm I suppose. :-) This is frustrating to me especially in churches because it's so ANTI what christianity is about. c'mon?? Movies in Sunday school on the Lord's Day? people pleasing as a modus opperendus? We SHOULDN'T fit in with that stuff because no one should. It reveals how ubiquitous the thinking is that herds should go along with the flow and not raise a ruckus. It's completely contrary to living a deliberate life because the primary need is for no one to question "why" any particular thing is chosen.

And alas, most homeschoolers by their very nature are just not good at that. It's only a tragedy that the same can't be said for "most christians".

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Hm, good thoughts...

Posted by hsmomof2 (IP Not Logged)

I wonder if it's really *complaining* or just "remarking on" something. Sometimes the two are confused - particularly by one who feels they are being criticized. I know at our church one family - homeschoolers - tends to be very thoughtful and will question things that others pass of as "just the way it is."

But you've got me thinking about this and I might have to do some more on this later!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - I would just like to say

Posted by onfire (IP Not Logged)

that most of the problems I have had with regard to homeschooling have been son #1 and son#2 ... NEVER me
the next point I would like to make is that everything else is everyone else's problem ... again, never me.
I do remember being a tad disappointed again this past September when the Pastor's had all the teachers stand up to be prayed for and no one counted me as one.
mostly my response (out loud or inside voice, which by the way are usually both out loud) is "whatever".
I am totally going to eat ice cream and brownies now.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

I agree that homeschoolers are "high maintainence" and harder to please than most. I think this is a good thing! Most people want to be told what to think and how to act. I think it's important to have folks who will stand up and call issues into question... to at least wake up the masses and get them thinking for themselves. Agreeing to disagree is so much better than a society of Stepford people!

Thanks for your encouragement! I needed that!

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

The last comment was from me!
Debbie Corley

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007 - Maybe you've tried this...

Posted by QueenoftheHill (IP Not Logged)

Our approach has been to get involved on the front end of the Youth program and be part of the planning and execution of our Sabbath school (um, that would be like your Sunday school) and Children's Church. But our church is much smaller than yours and maybe it is easier to insert ourselves in these processes that we would be most likely to complain about otherwise. We've also been known to change churches over what is offered for children, so we've been the problem homeschoolers -- long before we were even homeschoolers! Perhaps it is a question of what came first -- chicken or egg? Maybe difficult, alert, outspoken, think-outside-the-box people at church tend to decide to also homeschool.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by kateyz (IP Not Logged)

I think that yes we homeschoolers probably are more difficult in some ways. We tend to think more for ourselves and are teaching our children to do the same. We question what's laid out for us rather than following along. It's certainly not a bad thing, but I know others think it is. I've heard many comments made about homeschoolers being pushy, obnoxios and just plain difficult. I'm not difficult! I just have my own agenda!

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Thursday, May 10, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

You have two options here in my opinion:

1. Take your child out of the class
2. Help teach the class or set the curriculum

All other options will fall short of your intended goal.

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by StillHisGirl (IP Not Logged)

Good discussion! You ask where the line is... I think that is the key question. In my experience (as an opinionated, strong homeschooling mom), there are definitely things I wish were different at my church. However, unless I have been called to be the one to head it up, I feel I need to be respectful of the leadership God has put in place. Obviously, I can voice (respectfully) my concern, and (respectfully) offer to help in any way I can. But I also need to recognize that my opinions are not necessarily always right or even what is best for the majority. So just as in my schooling decisions, I can choose to buck the system and withdraw my kids from church programming, or I can do what I can to make it work and to use opportunities that aren't "my way" to talk things through at home.

I constantly, constantly remind myself that it is NOT the church's responsibility to train my children or to raise them in the Lord. It is MY responsibility. The church is a great resource and can be a place where my children find wonderful friends who love the Lord and the church can give my kids opportunities I can't. (Corporate worship for one). In many ways, it is the church's responsibility to reach those children who DON'T have solid, Christian parents, but not necessarily my children. And those children actually may need methods that my kids don't.

In my husband's experience in ministry with "complaining" homeschoolers, the negative is they often come across as knowing the RIGHT way, and can be judgemental and critical rather than supportive and encouraging and they often offer condemnation rather than another option or offers to help themselves.

As Christians who just happen to homeschool, we have an opportunity to be Christ to others. Even to the people running programs we don't necessarily approve of. By showing the fruits of the Spirit...patience, kindness, gentleness...maybe we homeschoolers could become known more like Christ rather than like the Pharisees. It is a fine line, since we are the ones given responsibility for our children.

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Yes, I know I am hard to please...

Posted by ThreeLittleLadies (IP Not Logged)

High standards. Yet, I haven't yet pulled my kids from any program, and we try to get involved with gusto. I don't complain, and try to help where I can. Still, in my heart, I wish that the programs were different... I'm not sure what my oldest dd will do during sunday school time next year, as this years option didn't work out very well. Perhaps she will be old enough to be a helper in the young children's classes.

Once in a class every little character flaw my dd had, in one of the teacher's opinions, was due to the fact that she was homeschooled. It was driving me nuts to hear the snide comments. No matter that his son was the biggest brat in the class... anyways... I digress!

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Friday, May 11, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Anonymous (IP Not Logged)

Sigh. I hate that homechoolers are known as difficult. I am not trying to be difficult. I am trying to be a parent. Sadly, I don't think our society knows what that looks like anymore. I agree with some of the other commenters that there is a right and a wrong way to voice our concerns. But, voice them I will. I've posted about this myself recently.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by chickadee (IP Not Logged)

me? a complainer?
i think that is a trap we can all fall into. i think it's because we are so well-read regarding our children and their education and well-being that it can lead to a feeling of superiority or know-it-allness. (not that i'm speaking from experience or anything).

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - Untitled Comment

Posted by Redbud (IP Not Logged)

I think one reason we became home schoolers in the first place is because we are thinkers and analyzers. I don't believe we're known as complainers in my church. A large portion of our congregation's families are home schoolers. But it makes me wonder, so I'll have to ask my pastor about it.

I am, personally, displeased with the geared-toward-public-schoolers youth program. I don't think they have much choice about it, in order to have a meaningful outreach. Gee, I hope the youth minister doesn't think we're complainers. ;-)

Edited by Redbud on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 9:27 PM

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - fascinating

Posted by Jimmie (IP Not Logged)

Great discussion here. Sure, HSers are complainers. But they are also DOERS. So they may complain because they are thinkers who see the contradictions, BUT they are ususally willing to pitch in and make change happen.

I think that complainers who are not willing to affect change should keep their mouths shut. But people who see and want to HELP to improve the situation should by all means speak out!

It's hard to be a thinker in a herd mentality world.

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