Friday, December 8, 2017

Pioneer Homeschooling Mothers

Library of Congress - New York Chapel and Cottages, 1906

In the late 1980's and early 1990's, homeschooling mothers were under the impression that our children would turn out to be model citizens, above temptation, dutiful and kind to parents, faithful church members, and grow up to adore all their siblings. The essays and articles of the times gave us the impression that we would have it easy. It created an idealism which caused a great deal of confusion in our parenting.  At some point, these children, who are like all the other children in loving homes, became teenagers, and times got tough.

There is no formula for easy parenting of teenagers and there never will be.  This is why:  The culture around us is constantly changing. Each new generation of parents is a pioneer of the times.  I will give you some examples:

 In grandfather's day, there was no such thing as television.  When it was first introduced in the home, there were morals and values coming through the programs.  Families on television went to church and said their prayers.  After decades of changes in the media industry, television and movies are rarely without trash and vulgarity.  This causes us harm. Older adults have often said, "As long as you know it is not real, it will be fine to watch." But this type of wisdom, from the 1970's and 1980's, had not been tested on innocent, growing children. As time has gone by, many realize this type of advice was for an adult, not for a child or teenager.  The results of viewing "fluff" and "vulgarity" and "violence" for entertainment is a serious problem. It has caused great harm in our children.  This is something grandfather would never have imagined.

Facebook is a fairly new invention.  It may have been introduced to many families through a child in college. Soon grandma had a profile and then the younger children all wanted one.  It has both good and bad features.  It can cause harm in many ways, especially to children and teenagers.  This too is something grandfather would not have thought was dangerous.

Public schools and colleges are not what they used to be.  A good solid, academic education is much harder to come by. It is not so easy to just send junior to the local elementary school and think everything will be okay.  It is not like it was in the one- room school houses that produced the likes of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I will not even comment on video games, cell phones, and other such things.

Despite all this and many more difficulties in our modern, American culture, we can still be good Mothers and raise good children.

There are many new inventions and ways of living that great-grandmother never would have dreamed.  I love my washing machine, electric stove, and frost-free refrigerator.   I appreciate my computer very much because I had spent many years, as a typist, using both a manual and electric typewriter.  When we have a power outage, here in rural Vermont, I am doubly grateful for our electricity when it comes back on.

There are always going to be innovations, new concepts, and modern inventions.  Yet we mothers would be wise to consider each new thing and see if it is something we will embrace in our own homes.  Is it good for our family? Will there be long term consequences?

 It is similar to how the Amish elders have meetings to come up with their rules for their districts.  They pray about each new thing and discuss if it will be good for their people.  It is okay to reject certain things in our homes.

To combat some of the negative influences on our children and teenagers, I know of many families who do not have a television set.  Others have one only for using carefully selected DVDs.  When I was a child, there was only one television set in the home. It was in the living room. These days, there are sets in all the bedrooms, the kitchen, the living room, in the family van, and even portable ones for using outdoors and while visiting friends and family. It can be found in public places, waiting rooms, and even in some salons.   It is important that mothers make rules and guidelines for their children, thinking of their long-term effects, and not just on today's entertainment value.

Facebook is confusing to me and of small value.  Yet it is highly important to a great many people.  It can be used for good, of course.  But it may not be okay for children.  It may not be okay for young teenagers.  Options might be to not have it at all. That is certainly okay.  Another idea might be to have one "family" account that mom and dad use along with the children. This might protect the children from many dangerous things. It is something each family ought to evaluate and make rules for their own household.

To combat the problem of sliding academics in our culture, we could build up a collection of good, quality literature in our own homes.  It is very easy, these days, to have a home library.  It may take years to build, but it will be used for generations if it is carefully tended.  Encourage reading, help the children with their schoolwork, develop a love of history and a love of learning.

The issue here is that we are raising children, not adults. Too many modern inventions are harmful to children in the long term, even though they may not phase an adult.  It is important to evaluate the good and the bad around us, and not just follow along with the masses.  Your home is a reflection of who you are and of what you value.  No matter what is happening in the culture, you can still have good, kind children.  Take them to church, have daily prayers and Bible time, sing with them, teach them your talents and skills, educate them to the best of your ability.  Do all this with a great deal of mercy, long suffering, patience, and love.  Do this consistently, even if they are having mood swings, grumpy days, or hard times.  The constant routine of goodness will have its positive effect on them over time.

A Mother ought to offer a happy home to her children.  She can play board games, cook, bake, sew, knit, paint, teach, and love being with her family. She can laugh, encourage, pray over her little ones, and lead them to her dear Lord.  She can have a humble and meek spirit with an overflowing aura of the joy of the Lord.  She can do this even amidst trials and troubles.  She can do this despite an ever-changing culture.  A Loving Christian Home has always been the greatest place on earth, in all times, in all places.  

How they turn out, when they become adults, is up to them. You can only do the best you can (as flawed as we all are) with the wisdom you have each day.  You are responsible for their childhood. They are responsible for their adulthood.

 A Mother's job is to do the work.  The result of all this effort is up to God.

Mrs. White

From the Archives -

Organizing - A Home Without Clutter.

In Case you Wondered - The Secret to a Clean House.

Peace and Simplicity - An Ordinary Life at Home.

- To find out more about this blog, or Mrs. White, please visit our About page. -


Find Home-keeping Inspiration, in Mrs.White's book - For The Love of Christian Homemaking.  Paperback, 274 pages.


Mama Said No said...

Excellent post!

Mrs.O said...

Mrs. White. This is absolutely wonderful. So well thought out and written. What a blessing this is.
God bless you
This needs to be in a book!( Smiles)

Mrs. Senti said...

Thank you for these helpful words. I am encouraged this morning to keep seeking God for wisdom in shaping our home to be God-honoring and healthy for my children. It is difficult to 'go against the flow' of culture, but it is so necessary. God bless you today, Mrs. White.

Amelia said...

Oh Mrs. White, You have some wonderful points here! : )

One of my most cherished memories is with my children and youth playing board games and sometimes sewing,art, cooking and baking with them.

It seems now facebook has just taken over lives and it grieves my spirit. Oh my goodness, just yesterday I told one of my married daughters I am so weary of hearing of facebook this and that. I'm personally not on facebook, I don't see where it would be a good thing for me personally at any angle. One of my married daughters has even told me that facebook would not be a good place for me and I believe her! : ) It does have it's good when there are questions facing our nation and my girls can give a good moral stand but otherwise to me? It almost seems a vortex that eats up lives.

As I wrote, you have many, many good points here, it's so interesting how times have changed isn't it?

I love visiting here. So glad to see a nice new blog entry today! I hope you are doing well and feeling the mark of Christ on your heart this Advent season. : )

Love, Amelia

Deanna said...

Hope your Thanksgiving was good and Christmas even better. Enjoyed reading your post. Sometimes I just want to pretend it's 1960 all over again. Such times we live in. I didn't HomeSchool other than help with studies at home and volunteering for in classroom's activities. My children are now entering into their 40s with children of their own. Times do continue to change so much it makes me tired.
All the best to you and God bless,

Jenn in Indiana said...

I think this may be the best post you have ever written. As a mother of teenagers I find myself oftentimes wondering if I am doing enough, etc. I started out motherhood with a very niave outlook, that if I kept them from these things then they would turn out a certain way. Although wonderful children, I wish I would have realized all of this from the get go,that I can only do my best and pray for them. You always have such wise words, Mrs. White.

Deborah Montgomery said...

I like that last line about us being responsible for their childhood, them being responsible for their adulthood. I tend to take on more than I'm responsible for. Thanks for the reminder. xo Deborah
and Happy belated Birthday Mrs. White.

Regina said...

Can you believe they make refrigerators with built in TVs now? It seems one can't get away from the "idiot box". You can't go to a nice resturant without TVs everywhere. I'm not saying TV is bad. It's what is on the screen that is bad. My hubby and I went to dinner one night at a popular resturant and there must have been at least six TVs in this place plus the juke box! All I can say is "the horror,the horror"😮
Anyway, didn't mean to go on and on. This is a great post and mothers need to read this.

Jennifer Williams said...

Mrs. White,
This is a wonderful post that really meant a lot to me. We began homeschooling in 1991 through the mentorship of some older couples in our church. A very idealistic picture was painted for us. We thought that because of how we were raising our children, they would always follow the right path and never stray. We were so very wrong. The world (Satan) got hold of my oldest daughter when she was in her late teens and our large family went through a very painful time. We were rocked to our very cores. Ten tear-filled years later, much prayer, and a lot of counseling have brought her back to us but certain damage has been done that will remain with her and our family until will meet Jesus. We were very young parents in the '90s and I wish we hadn't been so naive about the influence of the world on our children. But we have been slowly picking up the pieces and God is making beauty from ashes within our family. I did have a wise pastor friend of ours tell us early on that we are responsible for them when they are children, but when they reach adulthood they will be held accountable for their own decisions and actions. I have been holding on to that when I beseech God on what we could have done differently when this daughter was young. Now when I talk to young mothers, I try to gently be truthful with them about what the dangers of the world are, and that they can't be too careful.
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Thank you for your wise post, Mrs. White.
God bless and Merry Christmas!
Jennifer Williams

Mrs. Laura Lane said...

When I began homeschooling in the mid-nineties, I thought it was a fool proof formula for raising near perfect kids. It was often portrayed that way. I learned along the way that it wasn't true. I did the best I could with the circumstances that life gave me—long periods of my husband's under and unemployment, learning to make do, and long periods of illness. I made the best choices I could along the way. The results are now the LORD's. Of course they have gaps, everyone does. I wish I hadn't been so worried about that along the way. I wish I would have been less worried about keeping track of hours and more concerned about enjoying the hours!

Lana said...

I absolutely agree with you about homeschooling. Two of our five have have gone astray and it the same with nearly every home school family with adult children that we know. I have wondered if I would have spent 23 years homeschooling if I had known. I do greatly value Facebook because we use Messenger to communicate for free with our daughter and her family who are missionaries in Germany. Other than that I have a love/hate relationship with it although it is very useful for friends and family needing to get the word out for prayer needs.

Laura in AZ said...

God Bless You, Mrs. White. I am in complete agreement with Jenn in Indiana, who said that this might be your best post ever. It is deeply meaningful to me and I thank you for writing it.

My story is very similar to those of Jennifer and Lana.My husband and I have 5 children, ages 18-30, all homeschooled and raised in a loving, supportive home. Despite our best efforts,our oldest (and only daughter) unfortunately got involved with drugs and it has been a battle for the past 12 years. My thoughts have raced back and forth among the questions most parents of addicts ask themselves....everything from "How could she do this to us?" to "Where did we go wrong?". After a dozen years of prayer on this subject, I've reached a place of peace because I know in my heart that we did the best we could as parents. The mistakes our daughter has made in adulthood are her own and it is up to her to learn from them

At age 30, she continues to have ups & downs. We continue to love her and pray for her, as we do for all of our kids.

Thanks again for your beautiful post and keep up the important work you do!

Unknown said...

Dear Mrs.White
I just love your blog and often whish I could just be in your house drinking tea with you. Your warmth and loveliness is giving such a beautiful flavor to my life.
God bless you

Anonymous said...

A beautifully written, thoughtful and oh so true post Mrs. White. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us.


P.S. I hope to meet you 'on the other side' one day :)

Cheri said...

Wise words. My own three sons were out of the house before they bought their own cell phones so we never had to deal with that issue. My oldest grandchild is now 9. I am praying that God would give his parents wisdom and discernment regarding all electronics. Thankfully he is not asking for electronics yet, but it will.

My job is to keep praying that God will guard my grandkids hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Anonymous said...

It's not just homeschooling mothers!

I always read your blog for inspiration, but seldom comment. There's so much I could say about this excellent post...but I will note that, as an adult, I can not watch television any more. Even something as harmless as golf is loaded with offensive ads. This is seen as normal. We no longer dine out because you can't escape TVs pointed at you, with revolting ads we do not wish to see.

There's an implication of humility when a TV family is shown praying and attending church, a humility that is utterly gone from today's standard of lawless barbarism. Social media is even worse; filled with obscenities. How did we allow this to happen?


bj said...

A great post.
Being a parent is the most important job we will ever have...and we MUST be responsible, loving parents.
I thank God everyday for choosing me to be David and Stacy's mom.

Anonymous said...

I always go back to the sweet children's Sunday school song about being careful what we see, hear, do etc. Remember it? The lines about your eyes went like this: Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little eyes what you see. Cause the father up above is looking down in love so be careful little eyes what you see.

Once we see something or hear it and such it is in our mind from then on. See something when you are 7 and it is there to come up another time in your life. Or to desensitize you if you see such junk over and over. Watch what you and your family sees and is part of. Avoid what God would not want you to see or involved in things or do things that you should not be part of. When we watch tv we can choose what we see...BUT try even switching the channel and that pause between channels will many times show you or you can hear things even in that short time you wish you never had. How many times do children change the channel from the show you put them on to another...or have you seen the commercials. For products or other shows.!! I tried recording an innocent show and in between they put a commercial for an adult movie which I didn't know about so had to edit out. I do see a lot of good things on tv too ..but..... Sarah