homeschool ego check

circulating in my homeschool online-universe
is an article by Reb Bradley from the Virginia Home Educator Magazine.
i haven’t heard of either Bradley or HEAV until reading this article
which serves as an excellent and timely reminder
on my homeschooling (and parenting) journey.

us homeschoolers can get a little arrogant.
we made a choice to do things a bit differently,
so sometimes we criticize or judge others to boost our confidence
as we step off the status quo and walk down this seldom trod and uncertain path.
we compare and cut-down so we can feel better about our choice.
it’s backwards, i know!

pardon my islamicizing while i paraphrase Bradley’s main points
from an insightful, and very plainly christian, article where
he highlights several blind spots common to homeschoolers.

  1. we make great sacrifices and investments for our children only to impose our dreams onto them. our desire for personal success as a parent can overshadow our love for our children.
  2. instead of seeking the pleasure of Allah, we look for self-validation in the eyes of others from our apparent success as a family.
  3. we become obsessed with outward appearances rather than cultivating the heart.
  4. we egotistically apply our personal standards to others, pridefully comparing pluots to mangos.
  5. we put confidence in formulas and methods instead of putting our trust in the Trusty Handhold That Will Not Break — Allah (glory be to Him, the Exalted) and the example of the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him).
  6. while parents have a great deal of influence on their children, we over-use authoritarian parental strategies, forgetting that children are building themselves into self-determining adults. us parents need to “win our children’s hearts”, building a positive relationship that outlasts our physical control rather than (temporarily) dominate and manipulate them with the figurative or literal rod.
  7. although it is our role as parents to shelter our children from “temptation and corrupting influences”, we fail to give them the opportunities to build up their moral-muscles so that when they meet the world on their own they can make decisions based on sound faith and wholesome character traits instead of becoming a victim to peer- and/or societal-pressures.
  8. we fail to live the lives we tell our children to live: “faith is caught and not taught.”
  9. we fail to develop a relationship with our children as people, relying instead on rules and their subsequent consequences while losing our children’s hearts.

we’ve decided to homeschool
because we feel it is the right decision for us in our situation.
homeschooling in itself doesn’t mean our children will be
more intelligent, well-mannered and constant to their faith than other children.
it would be really cool if they did become
intelligent, well-mannered and God-centered adults,
but ultimately the results of their lives remain with Allah alone.

my responsibility as a parent is
to be an example to my children
by living a life that Allah will be pleased with inshaAllah,
and to unconditionally love my children
who are a trust, a gift and a beautiful loan from the Creator.

surah Rahman reminds me again and again:
so which of the favors of your Lord would you deny?