Boaz Baptist Chronicles

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Boaz Baptist Chronicles

Turning Point in Our Homeschooling

Posted on September 18, 2010 at 7:28 PM

The following is a letter from my wife, Terry.

Friday, August 22, 2010

Dear Cheryl,

How are you today? The sun is shining here, and the unusually hot and humid summer is leaving as the crisp fall breeze slips into the mountains in which we live. School has begun again, and I am amazed when I think that I only have 6 more years of homeschooling until I am done.

The latest issue of KAH arrived today. I just flipped it open and learned about the "Pearl" debate. I did a search and also went to the links you provided on page 23. I'm saddened by the turn of events that brought all this to the forefront of society, but not totally shocked. This is another example of people learning something they think is "the magic key" to whatever their problem is, but they throw common sense and judgment to the wind. They jump in feet first, throw caution to the wind, and go to the extreme.

I have read my fair share of books and articles by the Pearls, and my husband and I have our own opinion about them. We have no personal knowledge of them or their family, but some things they advocate, not solely related to child training, we wholeheartedly disagree with, or have a sense that something is missing. Given the circumstances and the debate, it is understandable that ministries and the like would step back and watch, and at least temporarily suspend sales of their (The Pearl’s) materials.

These tragic deaths are horrible. My heart goes out to the parents who I am certain never intended to maim their child(ren), but who are none-the-less at fault. My heart also goes out to the siblings, all family members, friends, etc for the loss of one they loved so dearly, and never thought would be taken from them so soon. I'm not sure it is fair to lay guilt on the Pearls because many authors and authorities publish ideas and methods that if not tempered by common sense, mercy, grace, and discretion, would cause much harm. I am remaining neutral on this debate because of our misgivings about other things that they teach, or advocate, in a doctrinal sense.

Homeschoolers in particular seem to grasp onto the latest trend in our circles with both hands. Maybe it is what enables homeschoolers to do what they do. There is a stick-to-it-ness that is essential to being a homeschool family.

I want to share my own experience on a different topic but it relates to the grasping comment above:

When we began homeschooling, I was under the impression that homeschooling, in and of itself, would produce near genius children who would adore learning, excel academically, and be nearly perfect in behavior, demeanor etc. Operating under this premise was a detriment to myself and my children.

The ideal I had stemmed from the families featured on homeschool magazines of the early to mid 1990's. They had the whole kit and kaboodle, and I wanted it.

As days turned to weeks, months and years, the daily disappointment of school at home took a toll on my spirit, and my children’s spirit. School was a battlefield, a war zone, and nothing like the happy, butterfly and flowery valley I desired. So, when I read about a new method, we tried it. When I saw a "successful" homeschool family, I picked their brain to see what tidbit they could give me that would magically transform our homeschool from a war zone to a peaceful dell of joy and fun. It didn't happen.

The change in me came about one week when a lady in our church commented, throwing her hands into the air for dramatic affect, that she given up on her son, who was the same age as our oldest son, and struggling with school-concentration, completing assignments etc. The LORD used her proclamation to convict my heart.

Why? She only said audibly what I had been doing gradually over the preceding years....slowly I was giving up on my oldest son, and I didn't want to.

That day was a turning point in our homeschool, and in my interactions and expectations. It wasn't that I began to expect less, but I began to accept that my child(ren)'s best might not be the high standard of overachievement that I desired. Pride in wanting my children to shock people when they told them they were homeschooled was a big motivation. (Here in the USA too many homeschool families forget the "school" part). I didn't want my children, and I didn't want myself, to be mocked or ashamed of homeschooling, ever.

The biggest piece of advice that I give new moms and new homeschoolers is that they need to forget what everyone else is doing, and find what works for them; that there is no "magic formula" for success and that success is in the eye of the beholder. The most important thing is that husband and wife agree on what they do, and how they do it, tempering all of it with mercy, grace, wisdom, and prayer for guidance and help.

There are families we know of personally, who in our opinion have taken the teachings in “To Train Up a Child” to the extreme. There was an occasion when one mom shared an incident with me about her 2 year old daughter, and how she (the mom) proudly and gleefully told me she used the Pearls method of dealing with it. The instance she shared with me, I wholeheartedly felt her/their use of the "pearl method" was inappropriate, as the book referenced a child twice her age.

I think there is a kind-of desperation many parents feel due to the accountability of our role. That accountability tends to put us in the precarious position of straddling the fence, and leaning too close to the line between discipline and abuse. And there is a line; a fine line as we see in this debate. We know parents who, on occasion, and out of sheer desperation to teach their child to learn the right things, have crossed the line. Fortunately, they recognized it and determined to find other means and modes of correction and discipline, which are working.

There is a good book by Lisa Whelchel called "Creative Correction". Lisa was an actress on a popular show in the USA which aired during the 80's called "The Facts of Life". In fact, she was a born again Christian at that time and refused to do many scenes in the show because it went against her convictions. She is a mother of 3, an author, and a homeschool mom. Focus on the family has her book. Her ideology, so to speak, is to get creative, and at times turn a blind eye to less serious disobedience or forgetfulness, allowing natural consequences correct your child. One of her creative ideas for a child habitually forgetting to feed the dog, is to put his/her lunch near the dog food as a reminder to feed doggy dear who likes to eat too.

In our struggle to be godly parents, and in hopes of keeping our children from repeating our mistakes, there are times when our zeal gets us into trouble.

We have to remember that who we are today is a result of not just one event or moment in our lives, but a culmination of every experience, good or bad, that we've ever had.

Our children need to have life experiences and make mistakes (even if it kills us, LOL). Honest, the last few years for our family, have been hard and it is truly a miracle, and only the grace and mercy of God that we are still a family in tact. Learning to believe Rom. 8:28 has come with a high price tag.

As for the Pearl debate, I am definitely bowing out of this one.

Thank you for publishing the information because there are parents out there who might be pushing the line and maybe this will be a wakeup call to them.

Have a blessed day.

Love in Jesus,

Mrs. Terry Leib in PA USA

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