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.

Mrs. White's special book for Homemakers - "Mother's Book of Home Economics."

An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. 


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