A Facebook friend of mine linked an opinion piece from the Denver Post, and I think it illustrates why so many children today are messed up. The author (Daniel Brigham) writes that he and his wife are expecting their first child. They already call her “Lucy,” and their friends have been asking them how they will educate their child. His response is very troubling.
He says he used to teach at the University of Colorado Boulder for more than a decade, so unlike many, he knows about the benefits of homeschooling. He acknowledges (as anyone with intellectual honesty must) that homeschooled students are academically advanced compared to students from public and private schools. Studies clearly demonstrate this, and his experience with one homeschool graduate while he was teaching at the university level is consistent with those studies. He also acknowledges that homeschooled students are not at any social disadvantage compared to their peers.
At this point, he reminds me a lot of myself more than 15 years ago. While I was on the faculty at Ball State University, my best students were the homeschool graduates. My experience with them caused me to look at the studies that had been done on homeschooled students, and those studies confirmed that homeschooled students are, indeed, academically superior to their peers and suffer no social disadvantages compared to their peers.
I took such information to heart and began homeschooling my daughter once we had adopted her. Mr. Brigham, however, has decided against homeschooling his daughter. If he knows that homeschooling offers academic advantages with no social disadvantages, why has he decided not to homeschool her?
Here is what he says:
Ultimately, for us it comes down to not wanting to take on the additional responsibility or sacrifice the income, free time, and sense of accomplishment we get from succeeding at vocations we know and enjoy.
So…despite the fact that he seems to realize that homeschooling is the best educational option for his child, he has decided (before she is even born) that she just isn’t worth the sacrifice. After all, she is only his child. Why should he or his wife sacrifice a great lifestyle, a lot of free time, and a successful job just to give her the best education possible?
This is one of the reasons we have so many messed up young adults and teens on our hands. Some parents just think of their children as pets. Sure, they’re fun to have around. Sure, it’s nice to love on them and get love back. But come on! They aren’t worth a lot of sacrifice. If it comes down to a choice between that vacation in Hawaii or giving their children a bright future, all they can say is, “Bring on the luau!”
Now don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that because they won’t homeschool their daughter Mr. Brigham and his wife must be bad parents! There are many factors that go into the decision of how to educate your children. For some families, homeschooling really isn’t the best option for a variety of reasons. I would never, ever tell you how you should raise your children, and please do not tell me how to raise mine. What I am saying is that Mr. Brigham and his wife have decided not to homeschool for precisely the wrong reasons.
When I adopted my daughter, I wanted some advice from the man I consider to be the best father I know. You might think I am talking about my dad, but I am not. My dad is a great father, but he is not the best. In my humble opinion, my oldest living brother is the best father in the world. If you knew his three children (two adults and one teen), you would know why I think that. I asked him what advice he would give me now that I was a father myself, and he very humbly said one of the wisest things that has ever been said about parenting:
I don’t know much about being a parent, but I do know this. If you ever have several options to choose from when it comes to your kid, choose the one that is most difficult for you. It will be the option that is best for your kid.
That’s what real parenting is all about. If we love our children, we don’t choose the path of least resistance. We choose the path that is best for them, regardless of the sacrifices that must be made.
Ever since I started working with home educators, I have seen first hand what happens when parents sacrifice in order to provide their children with a superior education. Sometimes, the children squander that precious gift and start down a path that is anything but pleasant. Most of the time, however, the children simply thrive. They grow and mature into young adults that can truly change the world!
I think Sharnessa Shelton put it best. As a homeschool graduate, she wrote a letter to a teen who wanted to leave homeschool and go to a “regular” school. In that letter, she wrote:
I am so blessed to have the parents I have. Seriously…Not many are willing to give up their time so their kids can have the ultimate experience in education, and I have many friends who wished theirs would’ve. Don’t take it for granted. It’s one of the greatest gifts you’ll ever receive!
I sincerely hope that Mr. Brigham read’s Sharnessa’s words before his daughter reaches the age of five!