My two oldest daughters graduated from high school this spring. It was an exciting completion of eleven years of home instruction. We are planning on at least one more year at home before college is even a consideration. Christy is 17. Jayme is 15. (Jayme skipped most of junior high and is in the running for a National Merit Scholarship.)
When my wife and I walked onto the stage at the Richmond Convention Center to present their diplomas, Vickie was carrying our unborn ninth child. By the time this unborn child graduates, we will have been home schooling for thirty years. Vickie will definitely have earned a gold watch when she retires from active home school teaching.
I see the same kind of life-long commitment among most other home school parents wherever I go.
Home schooling is not a fad. Hundreds of thousands of parents dedicating themselves to 20- and 30-year efforts is positive proof that home education is here to stay.
However, my work at HSLDA makes me aware that some families are not able to realize their goal of sticking to home education over the years. One of the reasons we see families quit home schooling is because mom and dad have broken up and are heading for divorce.
I mention this as a warning to us all. Home-schooling families are not exempt from marital discord. We must commit ourselves to keeping our relationship with our spouse a strong, vibrant, loving commitment to each other for a lifetime. Marriage is no fad either.
Atlantic Monthly recently published a front cover article entitled “Dan Quayle Was Right.” This article decisively employed evidence from social science research to demonstrate that families that stay together help our society to reduce crime, reduce poverty, and increase educational achievement. Divorce harms children emotionally as well. It is a myth to say that children are better off in a broken home than in a home where there is conflict.
This article contains the best defense of traditional family values from a social science perspective that I have ever seen. The fact that it was published in a liberal magazine increases its viability in public debate.
I wanted every HSLDA family to have this article for two principle reasons. First, I wanted you to have the facts and data to argue the position that God’s plan for the family really is best for society. Second, I wanted to encourage you with a strong message from society to reinforce your own commitment to marriage and family.
As home schoolers, we have made a tremendous commitment for the sake of our children. I would urge each of us to remember we have another commitment which is even more fundamental. Your commitment to your spouse is not optional. Take the time you need to devote to each other just as you devote time to the education of your children.
I was proud to stand on the platform and hand our daughters their high school diplomas after eleven years of home education. They are bright and beautiful and godly. But I was even more proud to be standing next to my wife of twenty-one years.
If the Lord tarries, in the year 2011 I will again be proud to present my ninth child a diploma. But it will be an even greater achievement for my wife and I to celebrate our fortieth anniversary that year.
Like home education, our marriages need to be based on a commitment that lasts a lifetime.