Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homeschooling.....Bart Simpson??

My kids love The Simpsons. Some of you may shudder at hearing that and, believe me, I shudder, too. We dvr it, though, and Matt carefully chooses which ones are "clean" and which ones are just raunchy. For the most part, they are clean fun...not much different than Spongebob.

The other day, Daniel was watching one where Bart was up to his usual nonsense ways at school and seemed to finally go to far. The Principal immediately expelled Bart. This gave Bart great joy as he felt that this was a release from school and he could lounge on the couch daily watching cartoons. Marge, his mother, quickly let him know that she would take over his schooling at home.

I rolled my eyes as this unfolded, waiting for the writers of the show to take this opportunity to make fun of homeschooling. However, the opposite was true. She set up a classroom in the garage, complete with blackboard, desk for herself and desk for Bart. She got him to actually READ a one scene, his favorite tv show was on and he sat on the couch, completely engrossed in the book. She had a guest speaker come to talk about the war and took him on a field trip. Homeschooling Bart made him, well, smart.

By the end of the episode, the Principal was impressed with the new Bart and welcomed him back to the school....and, of course, future episodes show Bart being back to his old ways. But, I thought it was an interesting episode.

Since homeschooling Sierra, I have seen many changes in her. She makes better grades. She has a better understanding of her subjects. Math has become her best subject. Her self confidence is higher. And, possibly more important, she has more time to concentrate on areas of her life that she wants to pursue for her future like sewing and art.

Homeschooling is definitely the best way to go with schooling, if you ask me. The education is tailor made for the individual kid and can go at a pace better suited to that kid. If your kid needs to slow down a bit, so be it. If he/she needs to spend more time on one subject and less on be it. If he/she is accelerated, than that is good, too. I am SO TOTALLY sold on homeschooling.

So, why not homeschool Daniel? Well, I guess it just isn't the time yet. The time is coming, there is no doubt about it. Whether it be this year...or the next....or even the is coming. I sat with Daniel today to do some reading and math and it is all to clear how easy it would be to school him.

If Marge can homeschool Bart, than anything is possible, right?

**If only it were cheaper!!**

Monday, July 4, 2011

Whose fault is it anyway?

For the past several weeks, we have been doing a fascinating series on Gideon in our Sunday Morning class. One of the things I love best about this particular teacher, he always pulls out the unexpected. Gideon...a favorite story of mine from youth, but never have I had such a rich understanding of his life as I have these past few weeks.

Without going into the backstory, though, our teacher, Frank, posed the question: Is it the parent's fault when our kids (grown up) go astray? Now there is a brain tickler!! He quoted to us from 1 Timothy, 3:1-5: Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
Now, this has been used in many leadership meetings I have been a part of in church settings and I agree to what most of it says. We discussed that sometimes this is taken too literally (if a pastor's son is grown up and has a dwi and kills someone, should the pastor be expected to step down).

As a parent, this fascinates me. I have a lot of control over my kids now, but when they are grown, my control ends. I know it is my job to shape them as best as I can (with God, of course, guiding my hands) so that when they are released, they will be who God wants them to be. In the here and now, I would say that it does fall on our shoulders if our kids do not behave as they should. Under our guidance, they should show respect for their family, others and the Lord. But what about when they are grown? Am I to be held accountable for their poor choices?

Many times, you can look at the upbringing of one who shows a complete lack of morality or is going down a terrible path and see that yes, they lacked that man and/or woman of faith that is to sit at the potter's wheel and shape them into a man or woman who loves the Lord, loves their fellow man, and has respect for those around them. I know parents who did try their best to raise up good Christian men and/or women, but something just seemed to go terribly wrong.

Of course, in today's society, it is easy for us to look outside of ourselves to find out who caused us to go down the wrong path. It couldn't be of our own choosing. So many of us look for answers and dig into our past (painful or not) searching for someone to place the blame on for their own screwed up life. Maybe we, as parents, do play a role, sometimes, into the failure of our children....but is it our fault? Or do we, as adults, need to have some ownership in our own choices? The truth is out there, and we should pursue it, not run from it.

I am guilty, myself, for looking to the past and saying...if only this hadn't happened in my life, I would be a better person. Matt brought it up in class...maybe God meant for this to happen in your life so that when you overcame it, you would be a testimony to your parents and the world that is hurting. This is true. How many of us have a relatable story that, when someone we love who feels that it is hopeless to believe God could love them can turn around and share their story and show the grace God provides and thus be a shining example. How else do we bring hope to the hopeless??

Someone else brought up freewill. Is it our fault if our kids express freewill in their decision making process? I know that I stress all the time the need to be honest with my kids...but one of my kids will often choose to lie rather than be honest. I have spoken in love and tried to hammer it in that dishonesty is unacceptable in our eyes and in the eyes of God, but the child still lies (not often...but once is often enough). So, am I not doing my job? Or is freewill an everpresent force.

And lest we forget the enemy who is against good, Christian parenting. He wants us to fail and he wants our offspring to fail. He does not make it easy on us to make that choice between right and wrong a clear choice. He often muddles the lines between the two making the decision very unclear. Of course, our job as parents is to try and open the eyes of our kids so that they can make that discernable choice...will learn to lean on God to guide us in even the most mundane of decisions, but if our children grow up and choose the wrong choice, who gets the blame.

Of course, God doesn't need to play the blame game. He does not care who is to blame. He cares for the heart of us and our children. His desire is that our children will turn from those ways and back into His arms and our arms.

So, who is to blame? It is so much in life, this is not a black and white subject. But, we as parents are tasked with one of the greatest responsibilities of life. We are raising up a generation of people who may or may not follow the path we have laid before them. As Frank said, we can put up the guardrails for their path, making it clear, but as soon as they are old enough, the guardrails are gone and we must release them to possibly crash or turn off the road, pursuing a road that they should not be on. While our kids are on the road with the guardrails in place, we MUST love them, guide them, teach them, and, yes, LOVE them (yes, I repeated love twice). In our unconditional love of our children, we mimic God's unconditional love for them.