A child hungers for caritas (God-like love) from parents, siblings, and other adults and peers in his community. In an earlier, healthier society, this included impromptu lessons, innocent affection (hugs and kisses) and even necessary correction, provided consistently by many adults, even strangers in public settings. Such a social milieu, once called Christendom, is the ideal foundation of true psychological health.
Today, in those fortunate countries that allow it, parents homeschool precisely because they have recognized the importance of re-creating Christendom at least within the ‘walled garden’ of their homes.
The child suffers when caritas fails in his world, when his sense of innocence and trust is consistently betrayed by one or more adults. Most homeschooling parents have recognized that they can no longer rely on the majority of adults in society (especially in schools) to be even minimally respectful of Catholic views and beliefs.
Homeschooling provides a much needed shelter from a dysfunctional ‘real world’ (not unlike protecting one’s child from exposure to contagious diseases). The homeschooled child senses that the adults in his life have taken a courageous and most difficult stand against the currents of neo-pagan culture, and that they are motivated by true caritas – love of neighbor (in this case one’s children) for the love of God. Statistics show that homeschooled children display the greatest leadership potential at college level, and are the most socially mature and adept (Robin Wallace ‘First Wave of Homeschoolers comes of age’, Fox News Channel Website) . This is because they have developed true self-respect, the psychological result of having been loved. The child whose parents have spent years homeschooling, as a living sacrifice, knows deeply that he is cherished.
Parents cannot provide absolute protection from harm for their children. Accidents, illnesses, and abuses of various kinds may come. But parents can strive heroically to provide the spiritually and psychologically healthy home atmosphere that will prepare a child to withstand the spiritual and physical assaults.
One prominent psychiatric textbook (Kaplan’s and Sadock’s ‘Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry) notes that most child abusers seek to approach a child gradually, by incremental invasions of the child’s intimate space, but that ‘healthy, protected, self-assured children rebuff the intrusions’. Children do need to be instructed (in private, one on one with a parent) that certain types of touching are wrong, and that the child should report these to his parent with the assurance that he will be believed, no matter who did the touching. The bond of trust forged in homeschooling, in which parents regularly participate with their children in the critique of various outside authority figures (e.g. people in the news, characters in books or movies, public figures praising sexuality in the guise of fashion, priests in their homilies, etc.) can be wonderfully protective in this area. Abused children, by contrast, have often learned to follow a false logic, according to which they always follow authority figures even when such figures command them to do evil.
A very common question by homeschooling parents is: “I know my children have learned at home, but I wonder if they would have learned more in school.” Maybe, although personally I don’t think so. Psalm 78 is a great one in relation to homeschooling. Please read it in light of what God tells parents to do. Nowhere in the Bible does it say for Rulers (the government) to train all the children. Everywhere the Bible tells parents to teach, train, correct, etc. It is a God given responsibility and authority.
Whether you teach them at home or send them away to school, the responsibility is yours. A ship’s captain can retire for the evening and pass control to the second or third in command. But if the ship is wrecked, the captain is ultimately held accountable. It is the same with parenting and training. The weight of the responsibility and authority is solely on the parents.
Ps: did you know that there are many famous men and women from throughout history who were homeschooled as children? Read here.