Bullied Into Buying: Grownup Peer Pressure

Homeschooling allowed us to raise kids that were not peer-dominated, not bullied, not searching for affirmation and validation from every direction. Hooray! The problem is, we parents were not raised that way, and guess what? Often we’re the ones with peer group problems.

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How Does This Happen?

One of the great doctrines of the New Testament is the grace of God and our freedom from bondage to the Law. From the very beginning, it seems, God’s people feel a pull to go back to Egypt – the slavery they knew that doesn’t require maturity, thought, discernment, or courage. God doesn’t want us to walk that way.

But God recognizes that there can be different convictions between sincere believers. Romans 14 (RTWT) talks about disputes between believers over issues like food and holiday observances – and rather than taking sides, Paul warns us against it –

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. … But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. … [Each] of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another any more, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

(Romans 14:4, 10, 12-13 – NKJV)

So if God warns us not to get judgmental over things which are directly mentioned in Scripture, why get that way over things which aren’t?

Beware the Perfect Curriculum

Our homeschool program is a case in point. It’s good to share experiences with different books and resources, but we always need to remember that our kids are not your kids, and our kids’ teacher is not your kids’ either. Our boys, for example, have always been active, outgoing, and noisy; we used a grammar program with lots of chanting, singing, and hand-waving, and got good results. We have friends whose children are entirely opposite – quiet, introverted, even shy. A program that gave great results with our boisterous crowd would be like punishment for those kids. The “best” curriculum for the quiet family will likely be different than the best one for ours – and that’s okay.

And that’s doubly true for bigger programs, like co-ops and organized classes, or an overall philosophy for teaching and learning. We’ve seen families so intimidated by a glossy program or a detailed scope and sequence, they will go into financial bondage rather than miss out on supposed benefits. It may be unschooling, it may be tightly structured classical education classes, it may be anything in between – either is permissible, neither is commanded – so don’t let someone else’s experience and agenda tie you into a situation which might not be best for your family.

Lifestyle questions are still troublemakers

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The church in the 1st century had controversies and arguments over dietary choices, modesty in dress, the role of women, observance of holidays, and circumcision.

But after two thousand years “not under law, but under grace,” the homeschooling movement in the 21st century has controversies over … umm … dietary choices, modesty in dress, the role of women, observance of holidays, and circumcision.

Those are worthwhile things to discuss, and it’s good to have convictions about them. But we need to remember that convictions for me are not commandments for you. What’s more, matters which wise and Godly people have debated for literal millennia are probably not going to be “proved” one way or another in our local church or support group. Let’s stop pretending that they are, and where Scripture is silent or unclear, give each other grace to hold our own beliefs in peace.

We used to be in a support group, years ago, that held to some pretty strict views about some of these things. We had friends whose kids went down waterslides in blue jeans, and daughters went swimming in long denim skirts. Maybe they didn’t care for that style, and maybe they realized that it was interfering with good things they wanted to do … but maybe they were afraid people would talk if they broke the custom.

And the list can go on … anyone have an opinion about vaccination? Or breastfeeding? Or non-GMO food? Or essential oils?

Don’t be bullied one way or another – look at Scripture, consult wise counsel, pray over it, and decide what God would direct – or at least, permit – for your particular family!

…for the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit … Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.

(Romans 14:17, 19 – NKJV)

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Hal and Melanie Archway Yours in Christ,Hal and Melanie

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