One of the constantly recurring, and frankly silliest, objections to homeschooling is the embarrassing naiveté of homeschooled kids. The implication is that a child’s growth and maturity will somehow be stunted by not witnessing the full smorgasbord of sinful behaviors and moral pitfalls that popular culture has to offer. If he hasn’t had a joint offered to him in the school bathroom by the time he’s a senior, there is simply no hope that he’ll be able to say no to it when he’s twenty!
When I put it that way, of course, the hollowness of the whole objection becomes evident, even to those who will most likely still think it’s better for a child to be “educated” in the ways of the world by his peers and (God help us) D.A.R.E instructors.
Fine, you’re right: I fully intend to turn my kids out into the world with little more than a theoretical understanding of the kinds of criminality and perversion that will most likely be going on right under their noses any time they walk down a busy street. By the time they leave my nest, they’ll most likely be in the same social position I am right now; people who engage in those activities don’t even want to talk to me much, let alone invite me to their parties. So I’ve just raised my children to be the kind of bland, boring, morally upright people that the unwise, unstable, and criminal amongst us shun out of instinct.
Oh, how could I be so stupid?
Like I said before, there is no way that I can keep my kids from finding out about sin, being sinners as they are. I don’t expect to. But there’s a flip side to this whole naiveté thing, and that is the fact that, when I send my naïve children off to be educated by government-employed strangers, their naiveté is a serious weakness, making them prey to unscrupulous teachers, wayward peers, and even crooked police. If I keep them either at home with me or under the tutelage of Christian teachers I know to be working toward the same goals that I am, these little ones of mine will still be naïve children, absolutely! But what else do you want children to be? Jaded? Worldly? Street smart? I thought we wanted to keep them off the streets, not familiar with them.
Where does this perverse desire to destroy childish innocence come from? Certainly not from God, who says that we must become like little children, and not the other way around, if we wish to see the kingdom of Heaven.
Several years ago, I witnessed the whole adult congregation of a church gathering around a group of teens to pray for them because of the sexual pressures and violence that they were forced to deal with every day. Now, I’m all for prayer, and I’m glad they were at least doing that much for the poor kids. But what caught me was the pastor’s words before they prayed. He said “Our children have to deal with pressures every day that we as adults would never have to face. They need God’s hand of protection on their lives in a special way.”
So we’re sending kids into these spiritual and emotional pressure cookers, even though in the “real world,” for which we are supposed to be preparing them, this stuff (bullying, sexual pressure, drug use, etc.), doesn’t happen among decent people? In the real world where grown-ups live, if these things happen there are both practical and legal steps that a grownup can take to defend himself. He can simply choose not to go there; he can prosecute wrongdoing; he can find a new job; he can find new peers. But these kids, who don’t have the benefit of years of wisdom? Meh. Just cover them in prayer and send them to learn from these people how to walk in Truth.
This little episode at church was what did it for me. It was about 8 years ago, and it was what convinced me to homeschool.
He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
Not long ago, I witnessed a similar thing with a group of parents lamenting the sexual pressure that middle-school girls must face at such a young and inappropriate age. “Lord, help them!” they said. And they sent them back into the cesspool the very next day.
My dad is kind of a funny guy. When I was a teenager, he’d often see me doing some household task and ask “Do you need some help with that, honey?” I’d accept his offer, only to hear, “Help her, Lord!”
The difference between my dad doing that and these parents doing this is that my dad knew he was joking, and would then get up and help me. The Bible says some things about praying and doing:
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Now, if we’re called not just to pray, but to do for the physical needs of our brothers and sisters, how much more does this apply to caring for the souls of our own children?
My children’s naiveté will vanish, despite the foolish concerns of naysayers, but it will recede through years of Bible training, not through the hardening effects of early exposure. My son will learn how to keep to the narrow path through the learning of Proverbs and being made aware of his own sin by God’s word, not through being slammed against locker doors because he’s the only kid that won’t get high with the rest of his social group between classes. My daughter will learn to honor her body by being around those who also honor her body, not from those who belittle and objectify her.
And he said to his disciples, “Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.
I went to a public school, so I know how that naiveté we’re so scared to see in our children gets worn away, and it is not through the maturing of a child’s spirit, but through the breaking of it. No thank you. We don’t want any of that kind of jaded “maturity” in our family.