Thursday, September 6, 2007

Setting Standards

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I recently entered into a discussion in the comment section of a blog I like to read. One particular comment made me very nervous because the commenter was giving her opinion of homeschoolers. She admitted that most homeschoolers she has come across are very dedicated and the children are bright and well adjusted. Then, she gave her opinion of a family who she doesn't believe should be educating their own children in their own home. Here is what was said about the family: family whom I believe should NOT be homeschooling. The oldest is now in college, but she had to start at community college...

The kids themselves have told me what their schooling consists of, which is little more than working their way through workbooks. A love of learning has not been cultivated as they've told me they hate school.

Why does this make me nervous? It makes me nervous and I'm afraid it is a dangerous way to think because each parent should be free to set the standards for what is expected in their own home with their own children.

For example, my husband and I think that our children should have fresh fruits and vegetables available daily, memorize scriptures, and be shielded from "news" about the likes of Lindsey Lohan and Paris Hilton. I can pretty much guarantee, though, that there are parents on our block who do not hold these same standards. Do I peer into their windows or quiz their children about their parents' nutritional standards? No. Why? Because it is none of my business.

We have standards that we believe are best for our family. Like homeschooling, mom staying at home, birthing babies in a hospital, allowing God to control our family size, and others, but we do not expect to be so bold as to tell others what the standards should be for their families.

We have friends who have ten children and friends who have none, friends who birth babies at home and friends who schedule c-sections, friends with moms at work and friends with moms at home, friends who homeschool and friends who public school.

Parents have the right and the freedom to set the standards for their families, whether or not anyone else thinks they have made the best decision. Obviously, my husband and I have strong feelings about the choices we make, else we wouldn't knock ourselves out going against the flow on so many issues.

We also feel very strongly that it is a dangerous proposition to think that some other person or governing body has the right to set the standards for our family. At one time or another, we have been told that we should:
  • stop having children
  • make sure our children have their own rooms
  • allow 3 years spacing between children
  • make sure our children play sports
  • buy a car for each child when they turn 16
  • pay for college for each child

and a myriad of other "shoulds" that someone has decided would be best for our children.

If someone would like to have those standards for their family, then I wish them all the best. I do not, however, believe that I should alter my standards to meet theirs.

Whenever we enter into the business of setting standards for others, someone will always be sacrificing their convictions, bending their standards to meet the standards that someone else has set.

I am all for children receiving the best education possible, and I am not talking about cases of neglect or abuse here. I am talking about the freedom to choose to focus on what each individual family decides is best. If I want my 5 year old to memorize entire Psalms, know the books of the Bible, and be able to sing hymns from memory before she can write her numbers 1 - 30, that is my prerogative.

I am sure you all have read about the German homeschool parents who were arrested because the government does not allow homeschooling in that country or the forced abortions that take place in China because the government there has decided that too many children are burdensome. Is this really the direction we want to go? I fear that when we want to set standards for others in matters of opinion we are treading dangerously near that type of intervention.


Liz said...

Well stated Connie, I couldn't
agree more. I happen to believe that the decisions that my husband and I make for our family is the best; however, I refuse to set standards for other families. A good example to think about is the Holy Spirit, I have heard many discussions about exactly what role it plays in our lives as Christians and exactly what it does and whether or not it is a figurative indwelling or a true indwelling. I'm not sure about any of the things above but what I am sure of is that it doesn't remove our free will to decide to obey Christ's or not. Christ has designed us as free agents and following His lead I can't judge a man's freedom UNLESS he is breaking something that Christ bound for us in His word. Maybe I will do a blog on this. Sorry to hijack your comments section. Elizabeth

Nikki said...


Kimbrah said...

It's so great that you posted on this. I have to confess here that this is something I have struggled with myself since before I even became a parent. I have learned a lot in the 4 years that I have officially been a parent (with lots more to learn I am sure!), but just recently a friend told me something that really convicted me. When her two sons were teenagers, a friend of the family did something to undermine her authority with one of her sons. She took the friend aside and confronted him on it. She told him, "God has given you your eight children, let me have my two. Unless I am doing such a poor job of it that the authorities need to be brought in to remove the children from my home, then let me be their parent like God intended."

I really enjoyed this post, and it was a great reminder to me to parent my three (so far), and unless my advice or opinion is sought out or something is direly amiss and the authorities need to be brought in, to let others parent the children God gave them. Thanks so much for the post!

Melissa Markham said...

Well stated!

Thehotrod5 said...

I too was reading over on the original post and I was cheering you on all the way. I completely agree. I am a previous public school teacher and one time a woman said "There are people who should NOT be homeschooling her children" and then she looked at me and said "right?" You should of seen her pick her jaw off the floor when I told her every parent has the right to educate their child in the way they see fit lol.


Quinn said...

I decided just this week to cancel a subscription that I have with Parenting magazine because of this very issue. Every month I'm irked by the way they seem to set mothers up to argue with each other over personal decisions. They even have a section for debating. I intended to write an explanation for my cancellation to express my disatisfaction with them encouraging this type of behavior but I feel intimidated now - you made the point so eloquently! Thank you for reminding women to, as my mother always said, MYOB.

Rom 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way.

Revee said...

Excellent post! We've run into the same situation where people have tried to put their standards on us.

I haven't read the blog post to which you are referring but I find it ironic that what the commenter said about a love for learning not being developed is exactly what happens in public school! However, I don't judge my friends who send their children to PS - I encourage them in anyway I can.

Thanks again for a very thoughtful post.

Sonya said...

Great post! I could not agree with you more. While I think there are superior ways of doing particular things, I realize that not everyone embraces those things. I think we need to keep our focus on our own family lest we miss something we may be doing wrong. Great job!

Revee said...

Just wanted to edit my above comment to say what I meant to type which was "exactly what can happen in PS as well" - I know that it doesn't happen in every case and I just wanted to clarify what I said. :)

Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks said...

No problem, Revee. I got your meaning.

Angela, We get a lot of, "Well, you are doing a fine job, but there are some whoooo....." This is when talk of regulating homeschoolers comes in. I think regulations will just lead to more regulations and our rights are being chipped away bit by bit.

Timotheus said...

So, how do reconcile this with your comments on modest dress over at the Common Room? Are other parents' standards for their children's appearance any of your business?

rachel said...

I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your convictions. But I must say, this is one area I do differ somewhat. I agree that we are the God-given authority to our children, but we are only human and all have our blind spots and weaknesses. I appreciate it when fellow Christians love me and my children enough to kindly point out flat spots. We don't need to be so fussy that no one dares say anything to us.
Also, I am thankful for the safegaurds PA has put in place for homeschoolers. It keeps us accountable and the Bible clearly states that even ungodly government is put in place by God and we are to honor it. They have never asked anyone to do anything against scripture. There are still people that slip by, like the mom I heard bragging how she puts down PE for whole days of bike riding and gets by with it. I'm sorry, but she should not have been homeschooling. Her children were waaay behind and not because she was a deliberate careful unschooler. The children were unhappy, untaught and untrained. But pride made her keep saying "I am a homeschooling mom!"
Sorry if I am writing too strongly, this is something that has been on my mind for awhile.

Liz said...

Maybe we should all remember Luke 6:42 or Matt 7:5. This is all judging and I don't think that we have a right to judge others over whether we are properly educating our children or not. If a state places mandates on homeschoolers then we are to obviously obey Caesar and give him his due share, but as people worrying over the reading ability of another and then downcasting them as inept homeschoolers doesn't seem productive. Maybe it boils down to an issue with how we see homeschooling. Do we see it as a moral obligation to our children or do we see it as a better educational experience for our children. I personally see it as both and if a fellow homeschooler doesn't live up to my standards educationally that doesn't really matter. She is still upholding her moral obligation to keep her children with her to train.
Pro 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.
I personally see the Public school as leaving a child unto themself. I'm sure there are a number of variables to challenge my synopsis of judging a fellow homeschoolers education (such as child abuse, total neglect, ect.) but that is not the premiss of this discussion. Maybe we should all work in ways to help these people who we think are failing instead of judging them; we might all learn something in the process. And if we keep helping each other and drawing closer as a community hopefully we can keep the government out of it and all remain free to educate our children in a manner WE choose best.

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