Am I a Bad Mom if I Don't Homeschool My Kids?

Monday, August 21, 2006

I'm doing my work this morning at Jittery Joe' favorite coffee shop...simply because it's one mile behind my house and Fourbucks (a.k.a. Starbucks) is about 15-20 minutes away.

While working on a project a mom with her 3 year old son walked into the shop and stopped by my table to say hello. Her children attend school where mine attend - a local Christian school here in Watkinsville, GA.

She inquired about how long we'd been attending the school, where we moved from, etc. She asked if were were homeschooling last year and I replied that we were, but that we found it difficult at this season in our lives. Heading back to Christian school was better for us right now.

She expressed to me that homeschooling was always on the forefront of her mind. She prayed constantly for the Lord to reveal to her when she should start. I replied that it just wasn't working for us since keeping the little ones constructively busy while educating the older ones was a bit more of a challenge than we could handle. In addition, maintaining a structure was important for their educational lives, given their individual personalities.

The response was telling - one that revealed an absence of the gospel...much like the absences I experience almost every single day. She responded that she was driving over to the shop and feeling guilty. The guilt, she said, was coming from that feeling that homeschooling was the best thing for her kids. If she wasn't giving them the best, she felt guilt.

What an opportunity to apply the gospel! I comforted her by letting her know that God makes no obligations anywhere in the Scriptures about how we educate our children. It's just not there in as explicit a manner as some would like to think. What is clear is in Ephesians 6 where God says we are to raise our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I told this mom that with this command as our guiding principle, choosing a method of education which best equips us to do fulfill this obligation is our task. Christian school was doing that for her right now.

The gospel application is clear: God has released us and set us free from man-made traditions and human obligations which create a false sense of guilt. The gospel comfort for the mom this morning was in this truth: there is no condemnation because the Spirit of life in Christ has set her free from the law of sin, death, and guilt. Guilt for sin is gone...and false guilt for sin that is not committed is destroyed. The only obligations God makes on this mom and her husband are the ones spoken of by Jesus Christ, and homeschooling isn't one of them.

In response she immediately reflected a sigh of relief and joy broke out on her face. She responded that this was a divine appointment since she had been driving over here with guilt over the fact that she wasn't homeschooling. Another soul was set free from another element of bondage for another day by the same gospel.

Homeschooling is not the gospel. It is not the good news and those who believe it is are following another gospel. And homeschooling plus Jesus is not the gospel. There is no goodness in the news that in addition to following Jesus we must also homeschool our kids. Jesus Christ and His work for us is the gospel. That's the good news. And it's goodness produced joy in this dear woman today. It's news brings joy and it returns a sense of fulfillment in her parenting of the one little one that God has remaining in her home today.

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