I enjoy seeing how many people read this blog, and how many different countries you come from. I hope you find some things interesting/ inspiring/ encouraging here, as that is one of the main aims of the site.
Tonight, I have a question for you! Do you generally feel encouraged as you pursue home education? (Or if you are not yet home educating but considering it, do you recieve encouragement or otherwise when you discuss ideas?). I am aware of the dangers of seeking 'approval of men'. I know that the 'masses are often wrong'. I also know that the only One to whom we ultimately give an account for how we raise our families is to the God who knows all things perfectly, and knows the attitudes and motives of every heart.
But right now, I feel faced with many different worldviews/ parenting styles (or whatever you would choose to call it). During a recent trip overseas, which I have posted about, I felt extremely encouraged as we continued to live in much the same way as we do here in the UK. Somehow, there was a greater sense of community and children were respected and valued as part of that. Furthermore, spending time investing in our children was not considered a waste of time or an unnecessary indulgence, but rather an important priority. Some of the prevailing attitudes among those close to me could be summarised as:
1) Default parents - who try to do everything the same as everybody else within a community. My blood relatives cannot understand why we do not fit into this bracket. There is an expectation that we should be spending more on material possessions, and trying hard to make sure nothing sets our children apart as in any way different to others in case they are bullied. There is no point in having much of a discussion about our priorities as parents with these, because they see that we are deliberately making things difficult for ourselves, or that perhaps we are almost verging on abusive towards our children for not giving them what everybody around them might seem to have.
2) Survival parents - who cannot understand how we have the energy or personal resources to spend long periods of time with our children, and who abandon most of their principles in attempt to obtain a quiet life. I have quite a few good Christian friends here - and the problem is, they can get quite defensive and see the way we are living as a criticism of them, even if we say nothing. If I was to talk to such a friend whilst tired or discouraged, they would probably tell me I should just put the children in daycare and have some 'me time'.
3) Workaholics, who may start a conversation about 'life-work balance' but who in fact are looking for a way that enables them to work full time and have somebody else do the bulk of the childcare. I was at a meeting at work last week where I came across this type of attitude a lot. An ideal arrangement would be a creche on-site at one's workplace which opened at 7am and closed at 8pm. I don't see that as a balance.
There are probably others, but these are the three I am struggling with right now.
I have several sources of support too:
1) A husband with whom I am completely united in our goals for our family;
2) Writing this blog, to enable me to reflect and process
3) A couple of women I see as mentors (although they are not geographically close)
4) A local Christian home education group which has just started, for purposes of encouragement
5) A wider local home education network
But the problem is, with young children who need a lot of attention and input, having any kind of meaningful conversation has been difficult for the past couple of years. Unless you join in with us, walk alongside us, are willing to have frequent interruptions and an occasional raincheck, it really is not easy at all. Overseas, we lived in community, and this happened seamlessly. In the UK, nobody really has time to live alongside others, or our culture is not set up to do so, or maybe it isn't a priority. People in general are too busy, rushing from one activity to the next, often paradoxically with the aim of increasing the socialisation (or other development) of their children. I don't have close family, and again often feel unsupported and misunderstood there.
What are your experiences? Where do you turn for encouragement? What do you do on the tiring, lonely days? I'd love to hear from you!
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.