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One of my greatest disappointments is when I see parents lose their resolve to home educate and send their children to school. I keep thinking that I could have done better, that maybe I should have been able to see this coming and to have done something to avoid this catastrophe.
I have been advising families for a long time and I know that once families decide to quit home educating it is nearly impossible to convince them otherwise. Still, and against my better judgement, I usually feel the need to do something out of my Christian conviction to love my neighbour even though I risk wasting my time and more by attempting to clearly explain how their decision to quit is in error.
The following is what I wrote to such a family in response to their letter informing me of their decision to send their children to school after many years of having home educated them from the start. I hope you can glean some pearls of wisdom from what I wrote:
I must admit that it has been years since I have heard parents claiming to be burning out. When home schooling first started in this province, “how to deal with burnout” was a popular speaker topic at home education conventions.
It was sort of “in vogue,” a “badge of honour” of sorts that was indicative of just how “dedicated” the mother was, until someone pointed out that God did not create us, nor does He direct us, to do more than we can handle.
Plain and simple, if you are burning out, you are likely doing something wrong! Avoiding burnout is easy if one avoids the things that cause it. After all, fixing a problem is always easier and more permanent than trying to deal with its consequences.
Even though some people do better at juggling tasks than others, all of us are subject to burnout when we carry more than we should. Personally, during my child rearing days, I was not active in Church activities, I limited my political involvement, and did the extra things after I had properly fulfilled my obligations to my wife and children.
Needless to say, that did not leave much time for extra-familial activities. I knew that if I was not careful, I would do what most people who find themselves overburdened end up doing, and sacrifice the very things that I should be prioritizing.
Now, you mention that your home schooling has likely contributed to your burnout. I could not agree more. I am also delighted in your losing your enthusiasm for home schooling. The very fact that you saw sending your children to school as a solution to “home schooling” indicates that you have perhaps adopted the world’s educational way of thinking. Please understand that normalizing, or “Christianizing” “schooling,” does not fix it.
For this reason we have never advanced home schooling, but rather, home education. Even then, our specialty is unschooling, which is best described as not bringing or doing “school” at home, in any way, but just enjoying being a family.
This approach does not lead to burnout! God never asked you to be a parent AND a teacher, as you have stated, but to be a parent teaching your children every day in every way. Schools or schooling does not accomplish this directive, no matter how hard we try to make it fit within a family system.
At this point, I have to be a bit blunt, but please bear with me. Parental burnout is not caused by children. God would not give us children to burn us out. If He did, would not every parent be a mess?
Parents burn out as a consequence of bad decisions! Furthermore, deciding to break up the family by sending the children to school will clearly communicate to the children that they are the ones responsible for their parents’ issues, which is both untrue and unfair.
I am not, in any way, suggesting that raising children is without stress and issues, but I am saying that if we add too much to our lives, over and above the fundamental familial responsibilities, especially when incorporating worldly thoughts, processes and objectives, we open ourselves up to being overloaded and therefore susceptible to “burnout.”
May I suggest that you reconsider this decision by reevaluating your situation, but before you do, please take the children off the negotiating table. They are not the problem and should not be paying the penalty, nor be punished for having simply gotten in the way of something that is ultimately not likely as important as they are.
You no doubt have a problem that truly needs addressing. I suggest you fix it, but don’t throw your children out of the most precious place on earth, which is home. Furthermore, I truly question just how a “Christian” school that incorporates a Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian curriculum and methodology could do a better job than parents, even tired ones.
You would be better to keep the children home, put all the books away, stop home schooling altogether. In fact, stop everything by pushing the family reset button. When you start with God, move onto family, then community, in that order, all the things that are causing the problem will not only become obvious, but easily eliminated. Reread Matthew 6:33.
I ended the letter with a bit of Christian admonishment. Every decision to quit seems to have been made in prayer! I do not believe that the God who gives children to parents and entrusts them to properly prepare them for eternity, as well as this world, would “change His mind” to direct parents to do otherwise.
There is no biblical support for abdicating our parental responsibilities, nor is there any support to download those responsibilities on a school, any school for that matter. It is obviously not God who has had a change of heart in cases like this. Let’s stop blaming Him for our bad decisions.
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