The Home School Court Report
No. 3

In This Issue


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by J. Michael Smith
- disclaimer -
Equipping You for Success

Several years ago, the HSLDA board recognized our responsibility to help equip our member families for success. That’s why we now have on staff three special needs/struggling learner coordinators, two high school coordinators, and an early years coordinator—to help our member families meet the various challenges of homeschooling.

J. Michael Smith

J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association

A new way in which we have begun equipping homeschoolers (and one that I'm excited about) was just launched in 2009—webinars through our @home e-vents program ( These live, online e-vents allow us to bring interesting, informative, and encouraging experts right into your home at convenient times—whether or not you are an HSLDA member. It’s like attending an interactive homeschool workshop right in your living room. Many e-vents are free to our members, and for those e-vents for which we charge, our member families receive a significant discount. If you are not able to catch an e-vent live, you can watch it later by simply going to our online archives.

In the short time we’ve been offering these webinars, we’ve learned some helpful and fascinating things from the voluntary surveys filled out by participants. For example, one of the most popular webinars ever had to do with helping children learn to deal with anger. A few years ago, I read a book by Lou Priolo called The Angry Child. (Please don’t draw any conclusions that I was reading the book because I had an angry child or that I was acting like an angry child. Of course, I could have just been interested in the topic of anger.) At any rate, based on the principles of this very insightful book, I subsequently prepared a talk called “What Makes Johnny Angry?” to share at conferences to help parents understand why a child might be angry and how to help him learn to deal constructively with his anger.

When HSLDA announced that I would be giving this talk as a webinar, to our surprise, over 600 people registered for 200 seats—our maximum capacity. Since it was a free e-vent, we fully expected that, based upon past experiences, only 100 would actually show up. Two hundred people quickly filled the webinar room, and the rest had to wait for the archived session.

Would you like to know the three things that the audience said were most helpful to them?

The first insight that seemed to encourage our viewers was the fact that anger can be okay. In Ephesians 4:26, God encourages us to be angry, but not to sin. What could that kind of anger be? It’s righteous anger. It’s the kind of emotion that gets us motivated to do something when we see an injustice, when God’s will is being violated. Therefore, if you have an angry child, there is great potential. However, that anger must be channeled to do good, and in order to do good, anger has to be under control.

Unfortunately, most anger is not righteous anger. It’s unrighteous anger, which is sinful. Anger is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible as being a bad thing. It normally occurs when I don't get what I want or I want something so badly that I will sin to get it.

The second aspect of anger that intrigued some of the viewers was what happens to children if they can’t get their anger under control: rebellion. According to Lou Priolo, based upon hundreds of case histories of families with angry children, rebellion can be traced through five distinct steps. Step one is a wounded spirit, or hurt feelings. Two is bitterness—the inability to get over being hurt or disappointed. Three is anger beginning to manifest itself through conduct (e.g. temper tantrums). Four is stubbornness—that is, insubordination. And finally, step five is rebellion.

The last thing that any homeschool parent, or any parent, wants from a child is rebellion.

The third part of the presentation that the audience found most interesting was the number one cause of anger, insubordination, and rebellion in children. According to Lou Priolo, this cause is lack of marital harmony. The bitterness that occurs between a husband and wife in a lousy marriage has a ripple effect. It can’t be helped. Hebrews 12:15 warns married couples that if bitterness springs up between them, it causes trouble and by it many are defiled. The ones closest to the bitterness are the children, and they are the ones most deeply affected.

What this means is that, although most of us have made a commitment not to divorce and to gut it out through a bad marriage (which is quite admirable and certainly biblical), a bad marriage can have a very negative impact on our children’s lives. Therefore, we can't be content with a lousy marriage. Next to our focus on God, our marriage has to be our highest priority, higher than homeschooling or any other activity that is good and right to do.

Well, I hope these highlights from one of our most popular webinars whet your appetite for our @home e-vents program. We are expanding the program to include even more exciting speakers and topics on family, marriage, children, and homeschooling, including a series by Lou Priolo himself, starting with this topic of children and anger! Strong homes provide a foundation for strong homeschools. HSLDA wants to help equip marriages and families to be healthy and happy. For information, go to And if you want more information about angry children, you can obtain The Angry Child at or