Why we homeschool - home educators? or glorified housewives.

Well here's a charge I haven't heard before.  The blogger at Meditatio  writes: 


As I’m “homeschooling” right now, I’m kind of looking suspiciously at some homeschooling moms who talk about how they don’t want to send their kids to public school because they’ll miss out on all the stuff like reading Beatrix Potter with them and reading all the great literary classics in high school. Guess what? My mom worked full-time, sent us to private school (K-5) and public school (6-college)… and still did all of that with us. It’s called “being an involved parent”. Seriously, if you want to be a housewife, be a housewife and own that decision. Just please don’t try to rationalize your life decisions by using your kids as a pawn.
and 
. Believe me, I know a pretty decent spectrum of homeschoolers and homeschooling parents; but there are some parents who I just don’t respect because they’re living vicariously through their kids.


I'm starting my 19th year of homeschooling this fall.  19 years. Did I start this all those years ago because I somehow wanted to disguise my desire to be a housewife?

Not that there's anything wrong with being a housewife.  My grandmother was one and she did a damn fine job of it - cleaning, cooking, mending, paying the bills, doing the shopping, and taking care of me and my sister while mom worked. On top of all that, she was also a farmer's wife so to my mind that made the cleaning, cooking and mending more challenging. Keeping the books for the farm added some difficulty too.


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But I don't really see myself as a housewife.  Grandma never liked that term and neither do I.  I've never been married to a house (as much as I love mine - uh no - not married to it!)  In fact, I'm sure Mr. Pete and kids will tell you that when we're doing school, the poor house is the one thing that suffers!  No, I see myself as a home maker and a home educator.  I think about planning lessons, making sure kids are meeting their goals and objectives, and trying to fit home making in between that. I want my home to be hospitable and comfortable but also realizing it's going to have that "lived in look" since five of us still live here and four of us are here daily all day as we go through our school day. 


The Catholic Church teaches that parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children.  Parents fulfill this responsibility by creating a home "where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and disinterested service are the rule.

When you're living with teens, tweens and little kids you are constantly grinding on those sharp points of your personality that don't want to be tender, or forgiving or respectful.  It's so much easier to lash out with harshness and anger and even disappointment. But for the good of our children we must develop those things - there is no bigger grinder than to do that 24/7/365 in a homeschooling household.

And if grinding connotes visions of pain and discomfort - oh yes! There will be plenty of both!!  The catechism also says that children contribute to the growth of their children.  This is how. And growth, though lovely and necessary, almost always requires a bit of pain and discomfort.

I had to look that last term up.  Disinterested in this case means without selfish motive.  The blogger above charges that some homeschoolers (OK, she probably means me) are homeschooling because

  • It gives us an excuse to stay home and out of the work place and
  • We get to live vicariously through our children.


I worked for ten years before my first child was born.  Parts of that time were very difficult but none of it was as challenging or as life altering consequential as staying home with my kids and then homeschooling them. When I was a medical records supervisor I wrote budgets and made sure medical records were up to date and available to doctors and patients.  As a mom I have raised three boys to manhood  - guess which set of responsibilities will follow my every thought and have consequences until the day I die and beyond?

Lastly, I always considered passing on what I knew about the faith, about literature, science, home living and education in general as a chance to share! a chance to re-learn and a chance to see enthusiasm in the eyes of my children.  It's a lot like watching the walk for the first time or talk, only it's over lots of things every day all year round.  It's not vicarious  - living through them, but instead living and learning with them - which is something else completely.

Which is not to say that moms who choose to partially homeschool, or use public schools or private schools are somehow inferior. My mom worked while we grew up and she totally gave herself to us on nights and weekends.  I miss her terribly!  Can we get away from comparing each other and judging one another on the hows of educating our kids and just encourage each other on our paths as Christian moms? All paths have their own pitfalls, trials and crosses. I think we just need to be open and honest about what those are for every option.



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For reference- from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

2223 Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery - the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the "material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones."31 Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them:
He who loves his son will not spare the rod. . . . He who disciplines his son will profit by him.32Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.33
2224 The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.
2225 Through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church.34 A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one's life.
2226 Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child's earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. Family catechesis precedes, accompanies, and enriches other forms of instruction in the faith. Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God.35 The parish is the Eucharistic community and the heart of the liturgical life of Christian families; it is a privileged place for the catechesis of children and parents.
2227 Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.36 Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect. Mutual affection suggests this. The charity of Christ demands it.37
2228 Parents' respect and affection are expressed by the care and attention they devote to bringing up their young children and providing for their physical and spiritual needs. As the children grow up, the same respect and devotion lead parents to educate them in the right use of their reason and freedom.
2229 As those first responsible for the education of their children, parents have the right to choose a school for them which corresponds to their own convictions. This right is fundamental. As far as possible parents have the duty of choosing schools that will best help them in their task as Christian educators.38 


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