Don’t Call It A Comeback
Updated: Jun 5, 2021
June means institutional school is out, homeschool is in.
Or as my eldest put it, “Out of the frying pan, into the simmer pan.”
He would know – I homeschooled him from Kindergarten through mid-5th grade. We haven’t been homeschooling since January, but, in the immortal but modified words of LL Cool J…
Don’t call it a comeback – I been here for years
I’m rackin sleep debt, fallin deep in arrears
It turns out that there is no such thing as a non-homeschooling parent.
When Catholics refer to canon law and declare parents to be the primary educators of their children, we mean to describe the situation, not to prescribe one possible option among others.
You can’t get out of it – you are teaching them one way or the other.
If you go to Mass every Sunday, you teach them that Mass matters. If you skip when Mass is inconvenient, you are teaching them that it doesn’t.
Once you have accepted your inescapable, irreplaceable presence in your children’s life as primary educator, you might start consciously shaping what sort of daily witness you provide, and that is good: the witness you give matters.
Caveat mater et pater: Despite its importance, witness is not the starting point.
Instead, start with making sure you are really, really, really, in love with the Lord. Cultivate that love for Him, the God Who while we were still sinners, offered Himself to us without reservation (vide Romans 5:8). Love of the Lord is the beginning of good parenting.
Nothing is more practical than finding God,
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.
When you are really in love, you can’t help saying the name of your beloved. You work it into conversations like a salesman on commission until even your casual acquaintances know it. When I talk with friends who have left the Church, I always ask them if their parents ever spoke of Jesus, if they ever said His name with love. The tragic answer from most former Catholics: No.
Note: There is no guarantee your children will cling to Christ even if His name is always on your lips. Since God Himself doesn't force us to choose Him, parental coercion is doomed to be ineffective in the long run. True, deep love of the Lord as a person and not merely as a concept is at the heart of good parenting and indeed of all Christian testimony; all good works and good relationships flow from it and lead back to it.
Just Strew It
If you’re still with me, it’s possible that you’re down for more unsolicited advice. This next tip is from the homeschooling community – that is, the group of parents who are most intensely aware of their primary educatorhood, for better or for worse. Montessori educators and libraries are also all over this one. It's known as strewing.
Good news - you might already be implementing this tip! Summer is the time to scale it up and be more purposeful.
After the kids are in bed but before you retire, choose and set out in strategic locations those books and activities which you hope your children will take up the next day.
To be successful, you don’t always use the same locations, you have to keep the rest of the house pretty clean so items can stand out, and you have to put some thought into what your child might enjoy.
I am telling you, this works. It works way better than verbally suggesting the exact same books and activities; it allows your children to choose their own activities and timing but still provides quiet guidance.
Be prepared for some attempts to fall flat – this is a way of collaborating with your children and leaving room for the Holy Spirit.
(Bad news – leaving laundry on the steps to be taken upstairs does not work in the same way; your husband and children can go decades without noticing.)
Strewing goodness is for everyone, and if it sounds familiar, that is probably because your heavenly Father is doing this to you. Imitating God the Father is always good parenting.
So when you see your child pick up the jump rope that wasn’t on the porch yesterday, or start to read the novel she found on the coffee table, consider what good works and blessings God has put in your path today, and take Him up on His schemes for your happiness! He’s willing to let you think it was your idea.
Thanks for the image - Bogdan Yukhymchuk on Unsplash