"Who Me, Micro-manage?" - July 18, 2006

by Mary Jo Thayer

All homeschoolers have been accused of micro-managing our children. That's a relatively new term for parents who raise kids with actual real standards and morals. This means, to those who label us, that we hold our children under a microscope to audit their every word and action to make sure they turn out exactly like we want them to with no chance of failure. We have been charged with keeping them in the closet and not letting them socialize. We have been warned that we are not letting them experience real life and that they will be forever scarred if they are not allowed get their driver's licenses exactly on their 16th birthdays and take the car out for the evening. We have been told under no uncertain terms that they WILL rebel because our goals for them about dating are unrealistic. Apparently, we are bad parents. Apparently, we are also the last to know this.

Even my own mother thought these things. She had no issue when we pulled our kids from public school to put them in parochial school, but when I told her that my husband and I had decided to bring them home for schooling, she just said, "Oh, Honey, I think you've gone too far." I wasn't sure exactly what she meant, but I knew it couldn't be good from her perspective. She tried to feign support out of love for me, but I knew she wasn't sold on the idea. Type-A Germans are no good at covering up their true feelings, and my mom was about as Type-A as one could get.

So, when we celebrated her 80th birthday with all her closest friends, imagine my trepidation as I approached the table where her small faith group was seated. They all exclaimed, "Oh, you must be Eddy's daughter who homeschools! Your mom can't say enough." Oh, boy, I thought. What has she been saying about me?

I continued to be a little worried about that as I ventured over to the table where her Mah-Jong group had landed. Some of them knew me already. They seemed happy to see me and said, "Oh, Mary, your mom is so proud of you for homeschooling!" I tried not to hang my mouth open in shock. I just smiled and thanked them for coming.

Later, I asked my mom about what I had encountered when I met her friends. She told me that a nice young couple she really admired at her church had pulled their kids from parochial school. She said, "I thought to myself, ‘Well, if so-and-so pulled their kids, then maybe Mary and John did the right thing.’ " Peer pressure. Gotta love it! After that, my mom was happy to come to our homeschooling events and meet all the other wacky parents who had gone "too far."

So what is this micro-managing all about? It's about simple things. We not only make them do their school work, brush their teeth, and take a shower, but we also do outlandish and over-the-top things like monitor their media intake, teach them their prayers, make them go to church on both Sundays and weekdays, help them love the souls of people, take them to pro-life events, and instruct them about the importance of modesty in behavior and clothing. Are we prudes, or what?

Micro-managing our children has just one goal: to lead the souls God has created and entrusted to our care to heaven. It goes back to the old Baltimore Catechism questions. "Who made you? God made me. Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, love Him, and serve Him in this world so that we can be happy with Him forever in the next." Any good parent knows that there is no possible way to do this without a little micro-managing, some positive peer pressure from friends on the same path, and more than a few trips to the confessional.

Used with Permission.
Mary Jo Thayer