Things don't always work out as planned for homeschool parents who hope to raise their children in such a way that they don't struggle as adults. Reb Bradley says there are a number of “blind spots” homeschool parents need to be aware of so they don't contribute to the problem.
As a homeschool dad and founder of Family Ministries, an organization that helps teach families through books, tapes and conference appearances, Bradley says he has heard from “multitudes” of parents who have seen their children turn away from their teachings, and sometimes God, after becoming adults.
“Most of these parents remain stunned by their children’s choices because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion,” writes Bradley, in an article called “Exposing Major Blind Spots of Homeschoolers” that appears in the Fall 2011 issue of The Virginia Home Educator magazine.
But instead of criticizing the children who have gone awry, Bradley focuses on addressing problems parents sometimes have in leading them.
There are nine points, or blind spots, Bradley discusses in the article.
First, he says, parents should not have self-centered dreams and impose them on their children. Next, parents need to find their sense of security in God, not in the success of their families. They also cannot focus too much on cultivating outward results or spend too little time helping develop their child's heart.
Parents also need to be careful to not be proud or judgmental, he says, and should be sure to trust in God and not in parenting “formulas.” Children become resistant to over-controlling parents at a certain age, so parents should adjust the level of responsibility they entrust to their children accordingly.
Along those lines, he also says parents should beware of sheltering their children to the point where they are “ill-equipped” to face temptation. His final two points are for parents to live a true faith in the sight of their children and to cultivate a loving relationship between their children and themselves.
Ian Dyer, a San Clemente, Calif., resident who homeschools his children with his wife, says there is “a lot of wisdom” in Bradley's article. Dyer told The Christian Post on Thursday that “every parent, homeschool or not, is trying to find the right balance of protection and freedom” for their children.
"Our goal is that when our kids leave our home ... that by that point we've extended them all the responsibilities of life and so they're not walking out into a lot of surprises, they're already used to running the things that they'll now need to be in charge of,” Dyer said.
Brian Ray, founder of the National Home Education Research Institute, says some adults who grew up in a Christian homeschooling environment may go astray, but based on research that usually isn't the case.
A NHERI research study released in June 2004, which consists of a survey of 7,306 adults who had been home educated during their elementary and secondary school years, found that 94 percent of them either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “My religious beliefs are basically the same as those of my parents.”
The study also showed that 55 percent strongly agreed and 27 percent agreed with the statement, “I would homeschool my own children.”
“I believe clear from the Scriptures ... parents have the responsibility and authority over the teaching, training and indoctrination of their children, and not the civil government, and not the church. It's the parents with the assistance of the church,” Ray told CP on Thursday.
He also said he encourages Christian parents to not think of home education as “homeschooling,” but as “parent-led, home-based discipleship.”
“I am convinced that the most contagious parenting is living a heartfelt faith before your children," Bradley writes in the conclusion of his article. "Fruitful interaction is not about what you do to your young people, but who you are with them. It's about having a real faith in God, and expressing it in a real relationship with a real person – not about methods and self-working principles.”