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Feel like a homeschool failure? A Screwtape Letter for the homeschool mom

by | Jan 20, 2014 | Encouragement, Homeschooling

“I feel like a homeschool failure.”

How often do we try to measure our homeschooling success by home organization, our outward appearance, or our children’s approval? In truth, the victory that matters is in our hearts, hidden with Christ Jesus.

C. S. Lewis reminded believers that “we battle not against flesh and blood” in his classic The Screwtape Letters. Inspired by his writings, we offer this third Screwtape Letter for the Homeschool Mom. May you know encouragement and blessing on your homeschool journey!

My dear Wormwood,

I was delighted to hear that your patient renewed some desirable acquaintances over the holidays. Her second cousins are just the sort of people we want her to know—rich, shallow, and skeptical of anything they cannot see with their own eyes. Therefore, encourage her to care about what these relatives think. Even if spotless houses and $150 jeans and private schools are not important to her, shame her into hiding her real thoughts and personality.

Make Her Feel Like Quitting Homeschool

Lose no time making the patient feel like a homeschool failure who ought to quit homeschooling altogether.

Imprison her mind by letting her see her house for what it really is: a kitchen table covered with crumbs and Play-Doh, a countertop overflowing with bills, and a front door in need of paint.

Take her upstairs and let her count more children than bedrooms. Let her hear a baby crying and have her catch a preschooler drawing on the wall with a Sharpie. Remind her of the 10-year-old who cries whenever he writes. Whisper to her that it’s her own fault: she never earned a teaching credential or degree in child-rearing. What right has she to trust her own abilities?

Perhaps she feels like giving up now. Perhaps she still hopes to understand and control the situation. In either case, your task is to keep her thoughts and activities in the physical realm. By all possible means, distract her from all invisible aid. Keep her ignorant of the spiritual root of her problems.

Make Her Feel Guilty

By now, she has probably made a long list of confident resolutions, of promises to the Enemy and to herself. So then, encourage this promise-making (for of course she cannot keep them!). When she realizes her failure, overwhelm her with guilt. Let the guilt drive her to more and more busyness.

Guilt is a desirable state, because it may lead the patient to neglect her marriage, her sleep, and even her sanity. Most importantly, a cloud of guilt will make her dread her prayers. Soon, she may open her arms to you, begging for any small distraction to postpone the awful duty of prayer.

Paralyze Her with Fear

Has the mother allowed you to creep into her thought life with visions of fear? Press your advantage! Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present—but fear looks to the future. So then, keep her fearful.

The stronghold of fear is paralyzing. She will never be able to purge curriculum and supplies because she will fear she may need them in the future. She will be unable to discipline her children during the school day, afraid they will hate her in the future.

Never forget that the Enemy wants her to live in the present: loving her children, keeping them safe, meeting their needs, and training their hearts. Because we want her to be hag-ridden by the future, haunt her with visions of the illiterate creatures she failed to properly raise and educate.

Tell Her She Will Never Measure Up

Continually plant and water the idea that her life is an endless uphill battle. Don’t let her expose herself to the Enemy’s mantra that “the battle is already won.”

You see, Wormwood, as distasteful as it seems to us, the Enemy really does love them. We want to feed upon and consume homeschooling mothers, while He wants to give of Himself and fill them up. He allows them to experience spiritual troughs and peaks, because the troughs help them become the creatures He wants them to be. If they merely attempt to walk through the dark valleys, He is pleased—no matter how much they stumble.

Do not let your patient suspect any of this. Convince her that the trough is permanent and Heaven is silent. Make her feel like a homeschool failure whose guilt and fear can never be wiped clean or forgotten.

Your affectionate uncle,


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If you feel like a homeschool failure, remember that the spiritual battle is already won!