Select Page

One of my family’s favorite films is one called Avalon, made in 1990 by director Barry Levinson. It tells a beautiful story about how easily the next generation can be lost. Sam Krichinsky (played by Armin Mueller-Stahl) is a young Jewish immigrant in the early 1900s who comes to America with his three brothers to find a new life. Every year on Thanksgiving Day to the great annoyance of his extended family, Sam insists on telling all the grandchildren the stories of how he and his brothers came to America.

“Why do you keep telling them those stories?” his wife asked.

“Because,” he warned, “if we don’t remember, we forget.”

Maybe I am just feeling my age. (I am 54, and both John Calvin and Charles Haddon Spurgeon died at 54.) But I believe it is time that my generation started telling our stories to the next generation. I mean this in the broadest and most general way, because it relates to everything from how we came to faith in Christ to how we bake our special holiday breads. But since many of us have also been part of the Christian homeschooling movement, we ought to begin telling our homeschooling stories as well.

We will not conceal them from our children; God understands how easily we forget. He devotes several passages in the Bible to the importance of telling our children and grandchildren what we know before we are gone. One of the clearest of these is found in Psalm 78. There we read; “Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” (Psalm 78:1-4 NASB)

How fragile the connection is which ties one generation’s life experience with the next. The stories concerning God’s will, God’s works, and God’s ways come down to us from our parents. One break in this golden chain of knowledge, just one generation failing in its duty, is all it takes for the connection to be broken and all the stories lost. I believe the Christian homeschooling movement is a wondrous work of God in our nation. It is worth remembering. Chris Klicka, in his recent chronicle, Home School Heroes, has started us off well. But he focuses primarily on those families who were hauled into court. That is important. But there are many other stories worth telling, and, as Sam Krichinsky put it, “If we don’t remember, we forget.”

Do Your Children Know Why You Homeschooled Them?

Have you ever actually told your children why you decided to homeschool? My wife Sono and I recently had the pleasure of hosting a young, childless couple from Great Britain in our home. For parts of two days they peppered us with all kinds of questions about why we have seven children, and why we homeschool, and how we feel about the place of family in God’s purposes.

After hearing our answers they moved into a more probing set of questions: “If all the Christians abandon your public schools, won’t they only get worse?” “Shouldn’t you send your children to public schools to be salt and light?” “Are you sure you are not just being over-protective?” And of course, “What about socialization?” Afterward our children told us they had never heard many of our answers before. By hearing our conversation with our guests things began to click. “So that’s why we live the crazy way we do!”

Yes, it is embarrassing to admit. I hope we did a better job with Joshua, 32, and Joel, 23, both married with children. But Alex and Brett, at age 17, were amazed not to mention, Sarah, 14 and Isaac, age 12 and little James at just 6 years old. It was not that they forgot these things. We had never told them. We just assumed they knew. So, to Sam’s warning we must add another, “If we never tell them, they may never know.” If our own children don’t know the answers to these questions, how are they going to be able to bear the sacrifices that homeschooling will require of them?

Give Them Answers

So, what should we tell our children? Let’s start by answering the basic questions listed above. Tell them that offering kindergartners to the public schools as “salt and light” will not result in school reform, nor will it be effective evangelism. It is more akin to Moloch worship.

As for being “over protective,” let me use a well-worn analogy from agriculture. Tomato seedlings need the protection of a greenhouse to get their early start in late winter. Established tomato plants still need the transitional support of a cold frame in the early spring. But because we intend for our mature tomato plants to bear their fruit in the field, there comes a time when we must plant them out where they will have to face the elements. A late frost could kill them. Likewise, homeschool graduates are not intended to stay in the greenhouse too long and become “greenhouse tomatoes” all pink and pithy and flavorless. They are intended to be field-ripened in the real world of business, culture, and politics.

As for being “over protective,” let me use a well-worn analogy from agriculture. Tomato seedlings need the protection of a greenhouse to get their early start in late winter. Established tomato plants still need the transitional support of a cold frame in the early spring. But because we intend for our mature tomato plants to bear their fruit in the field, there comes a time when we must plant them out where they will have to face the elements. A late frost could kill them. Likewise, homeschool graduates are not intended to stay in the greenhouse too long and become “greenhouse tomatoes” all pink and pithy and flavorless. They are intended to be field-ripened in the real world of business, culture, and politics.

Compulsory education is not the real world. The field is not the artificially age-segregated classrooms of a school building. The field is what we face after school has been completed. For example, my own twin sons, Alex and Brett have launched what they call The Rebelution. Their website, blog, and teen/parent conferences help teenagers “rebel against the low expectations of the culture.” My twins are already “bearing their fruit in the field,” just as their older brothers Joshua and Joel did before them. Alex and Brett are having more “salt and light influence” on their generation than anyone I know. Many public school students and even college students have joined the Rebelution with its motto “Do Hard Things.”  

This, I believe, is the way it is supposed to work. Protect them, prepare them, aim them, and then release them like arrows to have an impact for the glory of God. While you are at it, explain to your children that “socialization” is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. “He who walks with wise men will be wise. But a companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Prov. 13:20).

If you need more help on these kinds of questions, I recommend you read my book, The Christian Home School, (available in slightly worn condition for around $1.75 on the Web).

The Public Schools Are Not Getting Better

At the appropriate age, tell them that we live in perilous times. Read Bruce Shortt’s book, The Harsh Truth About the Public Schools and tell your children that the public schools are not getting any better. The enemies of the Christian faith are as intent as ever on corrupting children from Christian homes.

The homosexual and feminist movements now march arm-in-arm with the secular humanists. They want to confiscate all the “arrows” from our “quivers” (see Psalm 127:3-5). If they could they would take our children away and grant custody to atheists, gays, and lesbians. (I wish I were exaggerating.) They want to aim our children at targets we would never choose.

The homosexual and feminist movements now march arm-in-arm with the secular humanists. They want to confiscate all the “arrows” from our “quivers” (see Psalm 127:3-5). If they could they would take our children away and grant custody to atheists, gays, and lesbians. (I wish I were exaggerating.) They want to aim our children at targets we would never choose.

Tell your children about these groups. Read some of their audacious quotes. Let them tremble just as you did at the thought of losing the heart of your own child to such evil.

As I have thought back on my own childhood, I am appalled at how gullible my own parents were in sending me to public schools. It was a time of trust in government institutions. Mom and Dad had survived a depression and won a world war. So they decided to let the schools raise the kids. It was a disaster.

I attended a “good suburban school.” But we had all the stereotypical bad characters in my junior high. There was the lesbian girls’ gym teacher. There was the overly friendly shop teacher who liked to massage the guys’ backs while looking at the projects they were working on. There was the bevy of promiscuous girls. There were Playboy magazines in many a locker. The Jocks and the Greasers had their beer. The Beats had their pot. We even had a real live Communist sympathizer teaching sociology. He encouraged us to read his favorite political tomes for extra credit. It was all there back in 1966. When I ran away from home in 1967 my social life actually improved.

How many children have to be corrupted in 2007 and beyond because we, Christian homeschooling parents, fail to tell our own children what we know from personal experience about the way this world works? If we don’t tell them, they may never know. And if they do find out, it may have to be the hard way.

Wasn’t It Fun Being So Resourceful?

Thankfully, there is also a lot of good stuff to tell our children. We can tell them how God provided for our needs on a single income. How He gave us great ideas and helped us to be resourceful. Tell your children how you finally met other homeschool families at clandestine “park days” and mid-day skating parties. Tell them about the early days when Abeka Books refused to sell curriculum to any but a “real school.” (Were we the only ones who ordered “review copies” of textbooks on our Christian academy’s official stationery?) Talk about cloak and dagger. It was almost as difficult as trying to buy raw milk. But more than that, there were the joys of teaching and training each child to know and love God. It was worth the effort.

We need to tell our children these stories. One way to do it might be to do what we did. Invite a young couple over for an evening. Just lay it on them while your sons and daughters sit off by the side with eyes wide and jaws dropped. Tell the next generation. As Sam said, “If we don’t remember, we forget.”

c. 2007 Used by permission of the author