Thursday, June 26, 2008

Stacy McDonald at Your Sacred Calling has posted an article by another writer, Sonny Scott. It highlights a quirk of human nature that I have been mulling over in my mind lately, but he talks about it so much more directly than I could have. Specifically, how we human beings have tendency to resent those who have done a better job at something than we ourselves. In this case he's talking about home schoolers, but it certainly isn't homeschooling alone that brings this out in people. Take housekeeping for example. Isn't amazing how resentful we women can be about other women who are good housekeepers? "Well, I decided that being a good mother is more important than being a good housekeeper." "She must be really uptight." "I'm just a more creative person than that." Even down to buying a plaque for our walls that say "A clean house is a sign of a sick mind." Oh good grief. Probably the reason her house is clean is because she makes it a priority and works at it!

When I first discovered homeschooling, I couldn't believe everybody wouldn't want to do it. I could see children being liberated in droves, schools emptying like a public pool when summer vacation is over. I talked about it with a lot of enthusiasm to anyone with ears. Pretty soon I did have to realize that this "good news" was not always well received by everyone. The very fact that I saw any fault with the status quo was interpreted by some as having a judgemental attitude. I'm not saying this is true of everyone who decided to do something different from me, but those who had to smear my character whether mentally or vocally to justify their own position.

I've also noticed that those who do this are most likely the ones who for whatever reason are unhappy with the way their children have turned out. Usually if people are content with their decisions and happy with the results they don't have to grudge someone else being happy with their own as well. If I'm financially content, I don't have to be envious of someone else's good fortunes, I am free to rejoice with those who rejoice. But if I am secretly (or maybe not so secretly) harboring regrets, envy, resentment or whatever, I probably won't be able to be genuinely happy for my neighbor when he gets a new boat. Just the same, if I am feeling defensive or unhappy with my children and how they've turned out, than when someone else's kid is doing impressive things, had a good relationship with his parents and tucks in his shirt tails to boot... Well..

Often it is just so easy rather than to face my own failings it is much easier just to lash out with criticism at the other. "Just look at that smile. There's pride in there somewhere." "They think they are better than the rest of us." "They've made an idol out of their family." "They are most certainly judging me." (Probably they spend a lot less time thinking about me than I think!) We would all be a lot better off if we knew how to graciously be happy for other people, acknowledge God's sovereignty and get over it!

Now I'm not talking about people who make different decisions. There are complexities to people's decisions that we may not be familiar with. It isn't up to any of us, unless it's in our sphere of power, to make a full assessment of what other people are doing. At least not the areas where there is Biblical liberty-not out and out sin, of course. We don't really always know the heart motives involved. Though I AM a firm believer in examining the fruits we see in areas, such as educational choices, and make decisions based on what we observe. That we all must do.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Don't let me take up your time. Go read the article.


Joyce said...

Hi, Kerri,
There is something else that is weird as well, which also comes into this equation. Perhaps it is the "comfort in numbers" or herd mentality. Almost every other family at our church home schools. One question we asked before joining was, "Will we be persecuted because we do NOT home school at this time?" Our pastor said it was possible, but that it would be good to work through it. Indeed, much discussion with the elders during our membership interview ensued.

Bottom line: We were welcomed into the congregation, after explaining that we are diligent to catechize our children, have daily family worship together, etc. One elder, a dear friend, is still skeptical of our decision. However at this point in time, it is in the best interests of our children to be in school (long story).

We have done home school (with great success; I LOVED it.), private Christian school (very difficult issues arose; very expensive, but we left with good vibes intact on both sides) and now public school (where I presently work as a para educator - first job outside the house since we've been married!)

Whew! I'm long-winded. I totally understand where you're coming from. Just wanted to say that there are home schooling Nazis as well.

kerri @ gladoil said...

Well sure. That's why I tried to take it to other issues like housekeeping. I'm not talking about things being reasoned through and different conclusions being reached, having different priorities, etc. Let each be convinced in his own mind. I'm talking about being snide toward someone because of jealousy or because their convictions make another feel... convicted? I don't know.

I know that I have private schooling friends that I am totally comfortable with because they ARE trying to do an excellent job raising thier kids and they have no cause to feel defensive around me because they are happy and convinced of what they are doing. I have no problem with that. I have no problem with someone being happy with their children's acheivements even if it's a different venue than I would chose.. You know what I mean? I mean none of us benefit from any of the kids not doing well..

I hope I'm making myself clear in the distinction I'm trying to make. This isn't about this or that educational choice, we could debate that, but what I'm really trying to go into is our attitudes toward those who are trying to reach for excellence (in housekeeping, parenting, finances) and how do we respond when they make us feel threatened.

Know what I mean?

Marbel said...

I have seen that article in a few places now - it is getting around. I think it is very true, but it can be true of anything. I think women in general are more prone than men to this. It seems some women feel like it's a persona insult to them if everyone doesn't do things the way they do.

Joyce said...

Maybe some folks simply aren't true friends, or truly Christ-like brethren. You can do your best to live peaceably with them, but if they won't repent, I guess I would steer clear of them, realizing that they are, at best, "frenemies", enemies who pretend at times to be friends.

If you and your family are confident that you are pleasing the Lord, you will have to stand firm, and let critics say what they will.

Am I still missing out on something you are meaning to say? I think maybe I am. :P

LynAC said...

I do know what you mean ;0)

I haven't read the article yet. I'll go there next.

I think I'm a little insulted by the herd mentality thing since everyone at our church at present, does in fact homeschool. While comfort in numbers may apply, just because a group of people all homeschool does not mean we're all exactly alike. I've written about this before. There are many shades of blue but it's all called blue.... I do not think we chose this church based on homeschooling...more likely because we could worship together as a family, and families encouraged courtship, oh well--yes I suppose families who do all that together also educate together. ok. Yep, I'm a herd animal. Forget about Toola Roola--my new name is Bessie. :0)