Childish Homeschooler Syndrome, Part One

It’s been exciting to watch the homeschool “movement” grow up. The firstfruits of this effort are adults now, and we have a sizable army of exemplary and remarkable young leaders. The greatest, most successful young men and women coming out of this movement have this in common: Like the good stewards in the parable of the talents, they made good use of the advantages their parents gave them, and gave a tenfold return on their parents’ investment. They stood on their parents’ shoulders to go even further, learning from their mistakes, and being grateful for their sacrifice.

But not all of us have been good stewards of the home education experience. Our family has had the privilege of knowing homeschoolers from all over the world, and have noticed three common weaknesses of homeschooled youth:

  • We sometimes use the advantages our parents gave us as an excuse to become spoiled and complacent
  • We dwell on the disadvantages we may have had in our particular families
  • And then, worst of all, when we arrive at adulthood still acting like children, we blame our parents
  • Thanks to these three tendencies, there is a new stereotype of the homeschooled adult: Passive, undisciplined, frumpy, fearful, and directionless, content to merely exist in the comfort of his childhood bubble world, never looking beyond self or comfort to disciple and serve others.
    Many observers have recognized a problem, but not everyone agrees on the cause, or the solution. What exactly is it that needs to be fixed? Parents? Children? The family-discipleship model itself?

    We Have Found the Problem, and It is Us

    Of course, none of us were raised perfectly. Our imperfect parents, many of them first-generation Christians, often had to work out biblical marriage and parenting and family from the ground up. Homeschooling was an intimidating experiment for most. And yes, parents make mistakes. However, once we consider ourselves adults we need to take responsibility for our own shortcomings.

    There comes a point where every person must rise above his circumstances, for no circumstances are perfect. Each of us stands alone before God, individually responsible for his own deeds, misdeeds and lack of deeds, and God (we know from Scripture) does not accept blame-shifting. When we realize we are lacking in areas, the childish response is to deny responsibility and blame Mommy and Daddy.

    How to Blame Your Parents

    We can blame our parents in several ways. Some of the most common tactics we’ve heard:

  • Blaming our parents for not making us be perfect (Counting on our parents to be our brains and our consciences)
  • “My parents never made me become a responsible, thinking adult… My parents let me become obese… my parents didn’t make me talk to people who were different from me… my parents didn’t force me to take initiative… my parents didn’t make me read the Bible every day…”

  • Blaming our parents for “backward” policies we presumed they had, without asking (Misjudging our parents to excuse our own laziness)
  • “I don’t think my parents would want me to help people outside the family… I doubt my parents would let me start a business… My parents might not want me to bother keeping up with current affairs…”

  • Blaming our parents for “backward” policies we misinterpreted
  • “My parents found problems with a business idea I had – they just don’t want me to do anything!… My Dad said he doesn’t like this style of top – he just wants me to look like a frump queen!… My dad once told my sister to stop flirting with this guy – I don’t think he would ever let us talk to boys…”

    Who is actually being unreasonable here?

    It’s easy to blame chronic childishness on an over-cautious parent, an over-protected upbringing, a controlling mother, etc. However, nothing will keep an adult from acting like an adult, except his own childishness — just as nothing will keep a Christian from living like a Christian except his own sin. If we say our circumstances make us think and act like children, the solution is two words: Grow Up.

    “Thou wicked and slothful servant!”

    The parable of the talents, Matthew 25:14-30, holds a sober warning for homeschooled children. A Christian, homeschooling family provides the many advantages needed by leaders-in-the-making: books, freedom to study, time to study, a Christian foundation for thinking and living. We need to take what our family has given us – whether it be five talents, two talents or one talent – and invest it in a way that will multiply for the Kingdom. All too often, though, we are like the lazy and fearful servant, saying “I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.” We don’t use these advantages to fight against the gates of hell – we just sit on them and keep them secure against attack.

    Even worse, we sometimes use those advantages our parents gave us as an excuse to become soft and apathetic. We didn’t have to fight the same battles they did; we didn’t have to desperately study out basic Christian thinking the way they did; we didn’t have to face the same worldly snares they did, because our parents gave us a stronger foundation than they had. We didn’t have to build a foundation, because we inherited one. What we now have to do is build on that foundation. The danger is that we can become lazy consumers, used to having our parents spoonfeed everything to us, instead of gratefully and boldly moving forward with initiative and zeal of our own.

    It’s time for us to grow up and take our places as the next Christian leaders of the world. Let’s start by being thankful for the gifts – the life, the family, the circumstances – the Lord ordained that we would have. Let’s follow up by using them dynamically for His glory.

    “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” – Colossians 2:6,7

    Family Relationships