Recently I was in a social situation with a small group of people who I barely know. Over the course of the evening, I was asked two questions; sometimes I love these particular questions and sometimes I dread them ... I've been asked them before. And if you're either a homeschooler or a have a larger family, or both, chances are you've been asked them too.
Why do you homeschool?
Did you actually plan on having five kids?
OK, its time for me to go home now.
Of course I couldn't do that. But here's the thing: the answer to both questions are not one-liners. And, the answer to both questions is integrally wrapped up in my faith as a Catholic. I'm usually a good witness, but in this case I failed miserably. Don't we all sometime. Let's talk about the questions.
Why do you homeschool?
My basic one-liner answer to people I don't really know is: It suits our family.
(Of course, a good part of the real story behind the Holy Spirit's prompting can be found in a previous post).
My biggest hesitation in giving more than a one-liner answer is this: its often uncomfortable for others to hear why you homeschool because they take it as a judgement on why they do not.
When I think back to my own perceptions of homeschooling before I knew anything about it, well, it was not pretty. I thought homeschoolers were less smart, really weird, and probably religious fanatics. Boy were my eyes opened when I educated myself! As a group, homeschoolers academically outperform their schooled counterparts; as adults are more involved in their community and report greater well-being in day to day life (see here), and on and on with the benefits. Most people are not aware of this. They probably ARE aware of at least some of the negative issues in schools though, such as the dumbed-down curriculum, large class sizes, peer attachment, bullying, drugs, alcohol, and so on, so I always wonder why they ask me why I homeschool. Inside I feel like asking them why they do not.
How about the second question, about our family size. Another doozy. Doozie?
I did NOT plan on having five kids, initially. Through the course of our marriage we became open to the Catholic Church's teaching on human life. Again it was total prompting of the Holy Spirit, and Mary's intercession. Because after we had our first two kids, life was humming along fine ... we never permanently closed the door on more kids but we never really opened it either. Eventually though, well ... I think I'll save our story for another post. Suffice it to say, we threw out the birth control pills and welcomed natural family planning and responsible discernment. So thankful are we.
But on this night recently, when asked the question, I just kind of hummed and hawed, and said how things happened in our life and we began to desire more kids. I really glossed it over. I could have been a faithful witness and at least mumbled something about the Holy Spirit. Sigh.
Then Jesus answered, "Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" John 13:38
St. Peter, pray for us!!
How about you, what are your answers to these kinds of questions?
I pray for the Holy Spirit to pour out on us, to give us strength and courage to be good witnesses. God bless the rest of your week!