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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

What’s At Stake

Because I have the worst directional sense of anyone I know, last summer I bought a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver for my car. Now, I never get lost driving, because I always know where I am. I can even “see” myself progressing up the road, and always be assured that I am on the right track. My destination is marked with a little checkered flag, and I can see my car moving right towards it.

Here’s the problem with the GPS: it doesn’t work for other areas of my life, like home schooling. For instance, I can’t open the Seton History 8 book and see my children progressing on a direct route to Heaven as they read it. Maybe life for home schooling families would be easier if we could see this progression. Maybe it would be easier, but maybe that’s where faith comes in.

Because we can’t visualize our progression, and our children’s progression, and because at times we lack faith, home schooling can sometimes seem like a burden too heavy to carry. If you’re going through a period like this, let me offer you a piece of advice: remember your mission.

In the course of home schooling, if you forget why you began, it’s all over but the shouting. It’s said that couples should always remember why they fell in love. We fathers have to often remind ourselves why we home school in the first place. Although we all may have the same main reason for home schooling, each of us probably has a certain nuance as to why we chose this calling—this mission.

For me, the “why” was an incident that happened years ago with my daughter at breakfast. While staring at my young daughter eating a Pop Tart at breakfast, for some reason, I found myself pondering the idea that the devil not only wants me to go to hell, but also wants this young baby to go to hell.

When I thought about the fact that the devils wanted me to go to hell, that bothered me. When I thought about the fact that demonic forces wanted my little daughter to go to hell, that angered me. Though I had always realized that I must protect all my children, I recognized at that moment that I must do everything in my reasonable power to protect her from moral danger.

Sometimes we fathers forget that. We must protect our children from moral danger as best we can.

That is one reason why home schooling is so important. I’ve heard many fathers make good arguments not to home school. Some fathers are concerned that if they home school, their boys will not be able to play sports in high school. Some fathers argue that their wives are not capable of teaching certain subjects. Others are worried that their peers will think of them as outcasts.

Fathers must ask themselves: what is our goal for our children, and what is at stake?

In my capacity as an investment professional, I work with hundreds of Catholic fathers on a regular basis. Many of my clients have grown children and they tell me heartbreaking stories about their adult children.

For the record, I have never heard a heartbreaking story about a child behind in math class. Parents don’t say things like: “I have a heartbreaking story…my son is six months behind in Algebra.” Mothers don’t sob themselves to sleep because their daughters didn’t finish their Phonics 5 homework. I have never heard a heartbreaking story about a boy not making it to professional soccer.

Do you know what the heartbreaking stories are about? One thing: their children have lost the Catholic faith. That’s the heartbreak.

I believe in the power of grace, but as a Catholic, I also believe that God gives us free will. A parent can do everything right, and his children still may lose the faith. However, we must take reasonable precautions to ensure that doesn’t happen.

And home schooling is one of those ways.

Home schooling does not ensure salvation, it does not ensure sanctity, it doesn’t even ensure a good education. For me, home schooling offers one guarantee, and only one—it guarantees that my daughters will not sit in a classroom apart from their parents for six hours a day, five days a week, thirty-six weeks a year for twelve years. Home schooling guarantees that one stranger after another does not teach my sons for the most influential twelve thousand, nine hundred and sixty hours of their childhoods. I know that my children will spend those hours, those weeks, those years with one of the saintliest women I know—their mother.

For me, that is what we call in sales: a “closer.”

It is not my place to tell every parent how to best meet the needs of their children, and I’m not suggesting that there are no Catholic schools that produce saints. After all, many saints were the products of formalized schooling.

I’m simply suggesting that fathers realize what’s at stake. And remember this: one day, every one of your children will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And when they do, it may not be the soccer that mattered, and it certainly won’t be the Algebra. It will matter how they spent those thirteen thousand hours.

So fathers, when the going gets tough, remind yourselves why you’re doing this in the first place, and try to remember, that whether or not you see yourself and your family traveling toward your heavenly destination, you’re on the right path.

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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