Homeschooled Kids and Rebellion

One of the most popular articles on my website is “Homeschooling to Prevent Rebellion.” I think I’ve received more email about that article than any other I’ve written.

Let’s face it: many of us choose to homeschool our children partly (mostly?) because we want them to turn out “right.” The craziness of the public school environment makes it obvious to us that sending our children there is a dangerous decision. But if we teach them at home, we can educate them more efficiently using the materials of our choice (as opposed to the materials chosen by our local school board) while also teaching them how to control their behavior so that they become happy, productive adults, at the very least. Ideally, if we have a faith tradition, we want to share that faith with our children, too.

This is all well and good, but sometimes the responsibility we take on for homeschooling our children, which can seem huge and all-encompassing, leads us to believe that our children’s proper development is completely up to us. That would work if our children were puppets. But they’re individuals given free will by God. This complicates things.

To make matters worse, some speakers and writers in the Christian homeschool community insist that the sole purpose for homeschooling is to raise Christians. They may be well-intentioned, but what they’re doing is loading down parents with a burden they weren’t intended to carry. Because while it’s our job to “raise up our children in the way they should go,” we don’t have the power to make them Christians, or even to make them good.

I really like how Tim Sanford put it in his book, Losing Control & Liking It:

“…embrace the reality that whatever you do as a parent, your teenager still has that gift of free will. You could do everything right and your teenager could still choose stupid. That part is not your fault, even if it breaks your heart.”

He mentions the father of the prodigal son and the pain he went through, and then adds:

“What is your job?

To validate and nurture.

What’s not your job?

To make your teenager turn out right.

Learn to be content with these realities, and your life as a parent will be a lot easier.”

I’m aware of a lot of bewildered homeschooling parents who are just now facing the difficulties of having a rebellious teen. I feel for them because I’ve been there. It’s a lonely place. And the pain doesn’t necessarily go away once the child hits 18. In fact, for some homeschooled kids, the outward rebellion doesn’t reach full strength until then.

There’s no easy way through this. If you crack down hard on your offspring, you’ll likely push them further away. Yet you can’t give up on your principles, because they’re part of raising your children “in the way they should go.” What you can do is pray for yourself and your child. And never forget that God loves your children even more than you do.

9 thoughts on “Homeschooled Kids and Rebellion

  1. Amen!

    Our job is to guide, nurture and mold — and to keep our children accountable for their words/actions.

    Who knew in the beginning of our parenting years just how difficult this job is! I wouldn’t trade it for anything though…

  2. Your last paragraph says it best. You speak absolute truth. So much prayer goes into raising kids, not only for them but for me as their parent too. Whenever I have doubted my approach b/c it brought about a negative reaction in my child, God has gently reminded me to “Keep being yourself–the one I made you to be.” That includes my high expectations that aren’t always received well. And what an abiding comfort to remember that God loves my child, no matter where they go in life, more than I do! I am going to copy your last paragraph and put it in my Bible.

  3. You know, Amy, I think a few people mentioned it being a tough job, but until I got into the thick of it, I had no idea…..but there is no more important job, is there?

    I remind myself, too, Judie…thanks for stopping by!

  4. I love what you’ve written here Barbara. I remember asking my mother once, when my children were little, how she managed to raise me and my brother and sister without any major issues, like drugs or drinking. She said she just prayed a lot. I’ve tried to follow that advice and you reminded me so eloquently here.

    Peace and Laughter!

  5. After bringing my oldest son home from public school this year I was almost immediately introduced to a very sometimes difficult young man to teach! He is doing much better than when I pulled him out of public school in November, but still resists “school”. I’ve had to think outside the box to get this sometimes stubborn and rebellious boy to even do the bare minimum. I think you just gave me some very sound advice to think about…Thank you so much! :)

  6. Congratulations on your decision to homeschool your son, Rachal! Good luck to you both; it’s a very rewarding lifestyle :)

  7. My son will be going into 8th grade this coming school year. We’ve also chosen through a series of unfortunate events this past school year, to bring him home and educate him ourselves.

    Still, I realize that while my husband and I both want our son to “turn out right”, there is a very real chance that he will rebel. I hope he doesn’t rebel *too much*, but I can already see traces of testing authority and toeing the alpha male line (his father is currently winning).

    Thank you for your thoughts on the subject.

  8. Congratulations on your decision to homeschool your son, Iva! Your son sounds like he’s right on target for the age when you start seeing the rebellion. But it sounds like you and your husband are committed to him and that’s the most important thing. Thanks for stopping by!

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