The Washington Times
June 23, 1998

Rewards for Sticking With It are Manifold

By Michael Farris
The Washington Times
June 23, 1998

As I write this, I am sitting beside a small indoor pool at the Fairfield Inn in Fairborn, Ohio. Five of my children are splashing and making a fair amount of noise. It’s raining outside, and the children seem to be glad that the pool is indoors.

We are in Ohio to watch my oldest daughter, Christy, graduate from Cedarville College.

The swimmers are age 11, 9, 8, 6, and 4.

I have to admit that I was much younger when Christy was 4—18 years younger, to be precise. I’m sure that I had more energy in those days. Probably less wisdom. But definitely more energy.

At times like these I am struck by the long-range nature of the commitment to parenthood. It is a task to be assumed with solemn resolve and profound gratefulness to God.

Home schooling parents undertake the responsibility for raising children in an ultimate sense. And I want to encourage you, just as I need to be encouraged, to persevere for the long haul.

A decision to home school is not merely a decision to deliver academic content with the tutorial methodology. It is a decision to invest the essence of your life—your time—in the lives of your children.

If home schooling were only an academic system my wife and I probably would have quit before this, our 16th year. The difference in test scores are not enough reason, standing alone, to undertake all this work.

But when I consider the spiritual and moral character of my three grown daughters, and the tremendous opportunities for interaction that Vickie and I have had with them, I have an unshakable conviction that all the years and all the work were a small investment compared to the rewards we have received.

Let me suggest three ideas to hang onto when times are challenging and you entertain those nagging doubts about whether you should quit.

First, remember parents can’t quit. You can never stop being your child’s parent. This will still be true when you are 80 and your child is 50. Some parents, particularly some dads, try to quit by simply running away. But even this is not a resignation from parenthood; it is simply a resignation from responsibility.

You only have one choice: Will you be a responsible or an irresponsible parent? Home schooling is a responsible choice, but it takes diligence to exercise this choice in a responsible way.

You cannot quit being a parent, and you should not quit being a responsible parent.

Second, remember that you are raising adults, not children. The point of parenthood, like the point of home schooling, is to bring your children to maturity. It is not enough to make a good start. Your parenthood will be judged by your finish, not your beginning.

I will admit that neither of these thoughts will make the job of home schooling easier. But my goal is to make quitting more difficult.

The Bible teaches the need for perseverence as a condition of receiving a godly reward.

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees,” one passage says.

One of my favorite verses comes from one of the most celebrated prophets, Isaiah teaches the principle of the disproportionality of God’s reward.

“Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. ”

All we do is wait upon the Lord, and we end up with wings like eagles.

As I reflect on the milestone of Christy’s graduation, I know that Vickie and I have flown with eagle’s wings many times to have come this far. And as I hear the din of our five little swimmers, it is with confident relief that I know that those wings from God will be there again and again to carry all of us above and through the storms of life.

Michael Farris is the father of 10 home-schooled children and chairman of the
Home School Legal Defense Association

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