Much of what humans do is mimic and follow each other and so the culture we are raised in is of enormous influence. In today’s world, people with many different cultures live in close proximity. Our children have access to cultural elements that may not only clash with our own culture but may directly threaten it. This weakens the critical bonds between the young and old by causing children to identify with the decade’s popular culture instead of their family or local community. Having a strong family culture keeps children secure in who they are and where they come from as well as provide a valuable well of wisdom for them to draw from. Homeschooling, or small and selective schooling options, are essential components of nurturing and protecting family culture, from which greater societal culture stems in the first place.
Author, pastor and theologian, Voddie T. Baucham Jr. is known for the thought-provoking statement;
“We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”
He wrote it in a Christian parenting context but the point can easily be applied to those sending their children to schools that undermine or are openly hostile to their family values and way of life. How many parents have looked upon their teenagers or young adult children in horror and sadness as they realized that they are like visitors from a foreign land? This isn’t to say that dissimilarities aren’t positive. Look carefully at a large, close-knit family and you’ll find a multitude of personalities, capabilities, interests, and perspectives. The differences that I’m referring to are the kind that create a debilitating schism in a family unit, where not even holidays or birthdays can be peacefully endured and where families end up permanently separated. Where as soon as a child is old enough, they strike out on a course that is unrecognizable to their elders, all while eschewing their hard-earned and much needed wisdom.
One aspect of passing on our culture to our children, which homeschooling naturally supports, is giving them sufficient exposure to your strengths and talents—traits they may have inherited some of your predisposition for. These traits matter to us because we come from our parents, we have their genes, and we’re more likely to feel capable of doing what they do and have done. Maybe we don’t want to do exactly what they do but we want to do as they’ve done, for example: work hard, be honest, keep a clear head, have gratitude, be principled, etc. How many of us have been encouraged to learn a skill or possess a certain character, knowing that our parent, grandparent, uncle, or cousin was capable of it? What about inside jokes, traditions, expressions, and family stories? What if these could be shared without your child dismissing them? What if they weren’t conditioned to think your advice was irrelevant? Some things must change and improve over time, for certain, but wholesome and positive family customs, traditions, and stories being kept alive act in a way to bond people together and pass down necessary wisdom. How many women cannot cook now because the passing of that knowledge was severed a generation or two back? How many men were not shown how to replace a tire or change the oil?
Each family has the opportunity to create their own unique family culture and homeschooling helps provide the space for this. We all make our own quirky or somber traditions over time, usually triggered by something humorous or meaningful which sets a precedence that must be ritually marked. These traditions tend to last only in families that are healthy and resilient for the long-term but the thing about traditions is they help a family remain healthy and resilient. When times get tough, we need customs and rituals that unite us and provide meaningful reminders about where to keep our focus. I’ve found that more time together facilitates this greatly.
One thing you want to be able to hand down through generations of family are good ideas. The modern world is battling out ideas and the ones you live and teach to your children will only stand a chance if you aren’t sending them out to spend the day where your ideas are ridiculed and contrary notions are made to look provocative. Eventually, people need to be able to openly consider and assess a different idea—absolutely, but when children are young their stage of development doesn’t allow them to do this successfully. Homeschooling helps you keep control of your child’s environment. It doesn’t mean being a helicopter parent or shielding them from risk or other people. Yet, perhaps you are of the opinion that your child may be able to go white water rafting or ride a horse before they can safely withstand a progressive sex-ed class in school. Either way, you get to be the judge. Homeschooling seems like brainwashing to many outsiders. They don’t realize that public school and the popular culture is brainwashing children. At home you can take the time to reason with your kids, teach critical thinking, model your philosophy with real action, and if you make a worthy and honest case, they’ll likely choose similar ideas as you, or maybe they’ll convince you of their perspective. But you will see them at Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is not brainwashing if you respect your child’s thoughts and opinions, reject manipulation tactics, and hold yourself accountable to the truth.
Most of us want our children raised in a culture that leads to logical thinking and one that allows the best ideas to be brought to the light. Minds are shaped early on. Homeschooling may be one of the most important things you can do to ensure the survival of your family and that of your culture.