Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool?

Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

  • the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
  • current happenings in education-land,
  • and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Yes, I want Thrive Together!

* indicates required

Recent Posts

Some links on this site are affiliate links. A percentage of qualifying purchases support this site. 

HFC is powered by SiteGround.

Subscribe to our Mailing List

Get the news right in your inbox!

Privacy Policy

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

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

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.


Subscribe & Follow

Popular Links

Let’s Thrive Together!

Need a shot in the arm for your homeschool? Get Thrive Together, a monthly email that brings you:

--the best of the homeschool blogosphere,
--current homeschool news,
--and great quotes that will refresh your homeschool mama mind.

Latest Posts


  • Maybe you’ve never had a loved one on a ventilator, so you don’t know. I have. You don’t know the fear in your gut as you await the next minutes and hours until the doctors bring you updates and treatment plans.
You don’t know the darkness and silence next to the bed of your (beautiful, vulnerable) person, kept alive by a machine. The respiratory therapists making adjustments to help your loved one’s brain get enough oxygen so she can make it to tomorrow.
You don’t know the holiness of that bedside, where Christ meets you with His peace when everything is out of your hands. That bedside, where literally all you can do is read scripture and pray.
I am telling you, that is a bedside you do NOT want to be at.
I have been there and I never want to go back. God and an army of prayer warriors got us through that. Our person is still vulnerable. There are people in your life who are vulnerable.
We were at that bedside with decades of collective medical experience on our side to develop best practices and treatment plans, and learn from mistakes made on other patients.
Our loved ones who end up fighting COVID-19 with the help of a humming ventilator will not have that benefit. This disease is just too new.
If you’re a leader of people, your job right now is to take care of your people. Be honest. Take this seriously. (We can do that without letting fear take control.)
If you’re an employee, protect yourself, so you can protect your family. Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, eat your vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, take some vitamin C.
Above all #STAYHOME to #flattenthecurve so that you don’t end up by that bedside with not enough resources. Stay home, so that when the vulnerable person in your life needs it, they’ll have access to the ventilators and care they need.
  • FYI, your #Navy #submarineforce is still operating...even in the Arctic. My guy is finally out from under the ice! And I finally get pictures of his #ICEX2020 adventures. Unbelievably good to talk to him, even if we don’t get be with him in person #thanksCOVID #staythefhome #beagoodcitizen #submarinerscantsocialdistance
  • Blue Wyoming skies and wind blowing in the curls. Magical.
  • PSA: Don’t let curriculum publishers and internet ads scare you into thinking you NEED to buy their products to get your kids a solid education. #askamom #momsmentoringmoms
  • #Homeschooling when you didn’t choose it:
I would feel totally overwhelmed and underprepared if I were in your shoes. Homeschooling is hard even when you did choose it. We’ve changed a little, too. Every meal is a reading meal these days if the kids want that. (They do🤓.)
So, please ask me all your questions. I and other HSing mamas in your community have YEARS of experience with this atypical version of education. How can we help you and your specific kids in your specific situation? We have learned a lot of things the hard way and we are happy to help make this time smoother for you.
What I desperately hope: those of you stuck in a situation you didn’t want AT ALL, might come to see education a little differently. It can be flexible. It can happen over the course of a whole day, with snacks, outside time, screen time, and play interspersed between lessons.
This type of education is more about LIFE and HOME than you might think. While your students may be doing the same work assigned by the school, the setting change from school to home will change almost everything else about their educational experience this semester.
Here are my two favorite tips to get you started:
1. Use short lessons. 
2. Alternate between types of work.
The younger the kids, the shorter the lessons. Ballpark: elementary should be 15-30min/subject max. Middle school 30-45min/subject max.
How does this look? Have your student read for 15 min, then do something physical for 15, then do handwriting for 15. That kind of a thing. “A change is as good as a rest."
Don’t expect elementary kids to complete the whole assignment in such a short lesson. Just expect focused attention for that time, no matter how far he gets in the work. That builds the habit of, “when we sit to do school, we focus on school.” If you have to do 5 or 10 minute lessons because that’s all he had the attention for, that’s totally normal. Build up to longer periods, but it’s not really reasonable developmentally to expect hour-long math sessions for very young students. Those lead to tears. Ask me how I know.
  • Some days are just “pull your big girl panties on and handle your business like a grownup” days. Cheers to all of you who handled your business today. #navywifelife #adulting

Follow @rhikutzer


Find me elsewhere: