About Rest for the Weary

I hope you will find this little spot a place of rest and refreshment for your soul. My intention is to build up women in the trenches of homeschooling. This includes veterans who are burned out and former homeschooling moms who have decided for one reason or another to put some or all of their children in school. Thanks for stopping by. Take a deep breath of refreshment for your weary soul.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Control

Many aspects of cults, spiritual abuse, and extremists of any form is about control.  These groups want to control minds, souls, and especially actions.  Most of the time, fear and shame are used to control others actions.  How is this done?  Many of the "leaders" of these groups will make sweeping statements such as "You must homeschool to keep your children from evil," "TV will rot your children's souls so throw it out", or "Women are responsible for keeping men pure and bringing back the stay-at-home mom so women need to always wear skirts and dresses", ad nauseam.  How is this done among Catholics?  It can be heard from the pulpit, in confession, in private spiritual direction, but more often it is seen in publications, books, online e-lists/forums/blogs, and by real people in the pews.  Many Catholics espouse these views and try to control the actions of others by judging people and what they are doing, especially their own children.
But can we really control anyone?  Well, yes, through fear and shame we can, BUT usually those controlled this way will eventually rebel or have a break down of some form.  We cannot control anyone but ourselves and God is in control of all of the rest. Yes, we can do our part by discerning what we feel is best for our family, but God is ultimately in control of everything, including how our children turn out.  Do we really feel like He won't provide where we are lacking?  Doesn't the Bible say His grace is sufficient?  So, if we choose something like public school for our children because we feel led to that, He will provide the grace to see it through if that is His will.
We need to remember that Adam and Eve had the perfect situation, and they blew it.  The twelve apostles had the best teacher and one was lost.  We all have free will so no matter what we do, our children can choose to reject what we teach them.  This to me is a scary thought.  You mean no matter what I do, no matter how much I put into this, they can go astray?  Yes, it is possible, but there is something we can do.  Instead of trying to control the outside (as in what they wear, what they see/hear, etc) we can try to reach their hearts.  We do this by spending time with them that we all enjoy, talking with them about many things both important and trivial, by listening to them (without lecturing), and by being a good example to them. Then we can trust that God will bring to completion the work He began.   I think these things, more than anything else we can do, will help our children in their walk with God.  We can control the outside, but it doesn't mean we will have their hearts and that their hearts will be turned to God.

Friday, November 19, 2010

My homeschooling journey

I wanted to share with everyone how I came to the choice of homeschooling and how I feel about it now.  Twenty-two years ago in college, I researched homeschooling for my final paper in my major.  (which is education related)  I read John Holt and the Colfaxs and knew this was what I wanted for my children when I had them.  My decision was purely based on how ineffective public schools were; how they didn't work with a students strengths, interests, and at their pace.  I also wanted to protect them from feeling dumb (which I came across a lot in public school) and from being bullied.  At the time, I was a new convert and religion was not a priority for that type of choice.  Once married, the children came right away.  My husband was on board with homeschooling so that was to my advantage.  Once the children were of school age, I began using a relaxed approach based on interests.  (some would call this Christian Unschooling)  About that time, I became involved with a Catholic homeschooling support group.  I found out many things I didn't know.  Someone recommended me using the Baltimore Catechism for religion.  We picked one up, and as I read through it, I was amazed at how much I didn't know as a Catholic.  Slowly, we became more conservative in our religious convictions.  I researched so much because the internet was just becoming popular.  By this time, I was on my fourth child, and I was tired.  I decided to ask a question on a Traditional Catholics mothers' board about wanting to be done having children.  I got a huge lecture on how NFP is sinful.  Of course I shot back, "but the church allows it."  This led to a whole conversation about how the church after Vatican II was wrong on many things.  Someone mentioned the Traditional Latin Mass was still available so I inquired about one in our area since we had recently been disturbed with some of the things going on in our parish.  This led me to research everything from dressing to homeschooling methods.  I found that many traditionalist believe that you should only use Catholic curriculum and avoid things like unschooling, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori because they were heretical.  About this time, I developed severe anxiety and depression (although at the time I didn't know)  Upon reading this information, I panicked and changed my methods of homeschooling which led to a lot of tears on everyones part.  I didn't listen to my inner voice telling me that this wasn't for my family.  I truly believed that in order to be a good Catholic, I had to homeschool the "right way."  Sending the children to school was not even an option because like I said before, traditionalists including myself thought schools were evil.  I flipped flopped back and forth between methods for several years before I discovered my anxiety and left the movement.  Now I realize that any method a parent feels is best for their family is fine.  Not my place to judge.  I also believe that both Catholic school and public schools are suitable options.  Each family must decide.  At this point, we have decided to enroll our now 8th grader into a new Catholic high school next fall that is wonderful.  God willing, he will be accepted and the financial scholarships will come through.  We are also not closing the door on school for our other children.  We will be evaluating this through prayer and discussion throughout the spring to see if we feel any of our other children need to attend school.  I know a few who probably need to be at home at this point.  But now I can see that this can be a child by child decision and a year by year assessment.  Nothing is set in stone. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Educational choices

Noted in the side bar of this blog are links to the Church's teachings on education.  If you notice, there is no mention of what type of school, including homeschooling.  It clearly states that parents are the primary and first teachers of their children, and that we have the right to choose the type of school that will best meet our needs.  However, many Catholic homeschoolers and traditionalists believe homeschooling is the only and best way to educate a child.  Many will tell you that you are sending your kid into hell by allowing them to attend public school. As well, they may even say that a Novus Ordo Catholic school is worse than a public school because of the heresy they will be exposed to. 
For years I believed this.  I was so scared of the evil government schools and the Catholic schools-that-aren't-Catholic.  I believed these lies.  I was led by fear.  Although my decision to homeschool originally was based on educational and safety reasons, I soon began to fear for my children's souls and thought these types of schools would automatically lead them on the road to perdition.  But since having my eyes opened, I have seen that there are numerous children in the system who are living their faith, including ones in Catholic schools.  I had heard that there weren't any good Catholic schools in this country and recently I have found two.  One is a high school teaching a classical liberal arts curriculum including using the Didache series for religion.  Another one is a K-12 school with the priests teaching religion (again using Didache) and nuns for the younger grades.  This parish has both the Novus Ordo Mass and Traditional Latin Mass including the school Mass for the children so they can learn the rich heritage of the Mass. 
I have also seen homeschoolers scorn others for choosing to put their children in school after homeschooling them for a while.  Where is the charity here?  I believe people are earnestly seeking to do what is best for their children and family.  I believe they have prayed about it and maybe even received some spiritual advice.  Instead of chastising one another, we need to extend charity.  Homeschooling is not for everyone. Homeschooling does not offer any guarantees.  We like to think if we just do 'x,y,z' they will turn out right.  However, there is free will and no absolute formula for success.  God can extend grace where He chooses.  We do our part and He is in charge of the results.  And He is bigger than homeschooling or any kind of school choice.