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Two Thoughts on Family Culture

in Family

Two Thoughts on Family Culture

in Family

Jen from Working at Homeschool recently wrote this about family culture, “[D]eveloping the intellectual and moral faculties of our children by education is a monumental task.” Boy howdy. I feel the weight of this everyday. I bet you do too.

Then she says candidly:

Taking an honest, hard look at our family culture, I’ve realized that we’ve unintentionally created a family culture that is mostly based on my to-do list. We’ve built a family culture where “getting things done” comes first, and everything else follows behind.

Actually, just head over and read Jen’s piece, then come on back.

Two things struck me as I read Jen’s post:

1) Building a family culture is indeed a monumental task. One so monumental, in fact, we can’t do it all ourselves.
2) It is good to aim high. It sure beats not trying and letting the chips fall where they may.

More on the first point. I think it’s incredibly important we recognize that most of us who choose to homeschool our kids are, in some measure, control freaks. Today’s homeschooling mom might not have that much in common with the (how shall I put this?) ultra-fundamentalist, Christian, Duggar-like, ATI homeschooling families of the 80’s, who wouldn’t let their kids have friends that weren’t siblings. However, simply choosing to homeschool is an obvious leap into taking things into our own hands. Only 3% of U.S. children have parents like us.

The idea of building a family culture may not even be on most parents’ radar, but it certainly is in the homeschooling world. The problem is, “developing the intellectual and moral faculties of our children” is not actually a task we can control. The most we can control is our own behavior–our own modeling of the type of people we want our kids to become. We can frame the environment, choose the books, make a schedule, and sign our kids up for music class. Yet, if we think that by controlling all the possible variables, we’ll make sure our kids turn out in such-and-such a way, or that our family will be like the picture we hold in our mind’s eye, we’re fooling ourselves.

We do not have that much power.

By attempting to control everything about the upbringing of our children, we’re stealing the chance for our kids (and maybe even our spouses) to contribute as meaningfully as they can to our family culture. A “family” culture is one built by more than one person. This is not a sub-creator kind of situation, where we dictate the doings of all the people in our little culture. Families require unique contributions from each individual member. And that means that others control a piece of our family culture. Trust me, I’d love to get rid of the toddler tantrum, or the obsession with the (cheesy) Power Rangers, but that’s part of the character of my family right now. (And sometimes it’s pretty entertaining, ninja moves and all.)

My point is, I just can’t control everything. Nor do I want to.

Regarding the second point, though, it is important to “steer” your family culture toward the right things. The vocation of parent puts us in a leadership position over our children, that’s undeniable. If I didn’t take it seriously, no one would get fed in my house and everyone would be sitting around in their poopy diapers. (Notice how much of parenting is service to others, not lording it over those in our care?)

Jen’s right. We ought to aim for glorifying God, rather than solely checking items off our to-do list. It is better to help our families learn to enjoy the complex and beautiful music of Beethoven over the latest wrecking-ball-riding pop star’s hit song with scandalous lyrics. Some things are obviously better than others. But there’s no perfect family culture we’ll ever achieve because we can’t control everything. Even if we could, we’re human, so we’d mess it up anyway.

The best we can do is aim high, accept the contributions of our family members, and repent when we need to.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.

Rhiannon

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--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

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  • Happy New Year and all, but more importantly, today we got to watch our @wyo_football win the Arizona Bowl. (With a freshman QB starting for the 1st time ever, btw 😮😮😮💪🏻) Way to go Pokes! #theWorldNeedsMoreCowboys #OneWyoming #GoWyo
  • We always have so much fun doing projects from @artforkidshub #homeschool #trynewthings #watercolor
  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
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The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
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This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
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Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
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Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
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Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?
  • #homeschool #family #weekend projects. Oldest got through a CPR course, curtains are hung, first batch ever of hard apple cider is bottled (a big learning experience!), and Morning Time for the next term is planned. 👊🏻 Time to call Dominos so these people can get fed 😂
  • Oh Halloween. That day when I pull costumes out of thin air at T-minus one hour ‘till trick-or-treating. Then one kid melts down in the middle of the fun, and is carried screaming to the car, with me hoping all the while that no one thinks I’m abducting a child. And, my favorite non-PC thought: one kid suggests we should have dressed as hobos, since we’re going around asking people to give us free candy. Phoned it in this year, Kutzers. 🤦🏻‍♀️🤷🏻‍♀️ #gladitsover For the record, we had a soccer player, an archer, Spider Girl, a princess, a tiny farmer, a witchy mom (Is that even a costume or just a Thursday?), and Bat Dad.
  • We may not get school started until 8 or 9, but we eat well while we read. “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.” I think the house smelling like bacon counts as atmosphere. 😂🥰
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#homeschool #charlottemasonirl #homecookedmeals #livingbooks

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