The next challenge for all marriages and I am afraid I believe, especially for families who choose to home educate, is the place of the wider family, such as siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts and so on.
The fourth Commandment is “Honour your father and mother”. It seems to me it is a “hinge” commandment between the things we owe God (worship only Him, Keep His Name holy, honour the Sabbath/Lord’s Day) and the things we owe in love of neighbour (no murder, theft, adultery, lies and gossip about others, envy of stuff and envy of people). So it is a very important.
But what does it mean on a practicle level?
Marriage is the moment when a man and a woman leave their old family home under the authority of their parents and, to quote Jesus “Become one flesh.” This sets up a new authority, with the husband as the priest of a new household. The wife works alongside him and together they are the primary educators and carers of the children. That doesn’t mean we suddenly ignore the extended family, or start disrespecting the grandparents. But it does mean the spouse and children come first after God.
In home educating families I know, so far I have yet to come across anyone who hasn’t had to face a very hostile reaction from someone. It seems to me that it is better to remain silent on the issue as much as possible. You can quietly steer your children away from rude reli’s who set up impromptu ‘tests’ for your children.
I don’t advise getting angry (with them) as it will just cause family problems. Sometimes this can’t be avoided – as a friend of mine is discovering. It is very much harder to deal with this sort of thing when you are just starting out and having to find your feet in the great task ahead. The last thing you need at this point is the sense that you have to jump through hoops to prove you are doing the right thing.
There is another aspect of the 4th Commandment that needs looking at. What is the duty of a home educating family towards frail or elderly parents. I know Dr Ray Guarendi has his mother in law living with them now. This is something many homeschoolers in America do and it’s something I believe is right. It is actually part of how the children learn. They learn to respect grandma even when she’s confused, frail.
In the UK, it is no longer part of our culture to automatically care for our elderly rekatives. They are put in homes, and left to the care of people like my son and back when I worked -me. In most cases the older person gets less visitors than the average prisoner.
Part of the atmosphere of education – the culture of the home- needs to be that we serve others. That having younger children around all day, or sick childre, or an elderly relative, is a normal part of life.
I get increasingly uncomfortable with the “put I want my life” attitude that sadly has, in too many cases been handed down to use from our parents who imbibed the 60’s revolution big time. We can’t turn the whole juggernaut around, but we can, in our little home educating mini-communities, try and ensure our children aren’t drowned in it.
There are obviously many practicle obstacles these days to having grandparents live with you. The major one is housing that is suitable, and the fact that the economy is so weighted against young adults that they can’t move out. But the fact that more adults live in one place, could work out to make it easier to care of a grandparent in their own home, by sharing the care.