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Homeschool doubts? A Screwtape Letter for the homeschool mom

by | Jan 27, 2020 | Encouragement, Homeschooling

Are you plagued by homeschool doubts?

Your calling as a homeschooling mom flows out of your calling to live a life hidden in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:3). When you experience homeschool doubts at some point this school year, don’t try to overcome them on your own strength, feelings, or goodness. Recognize the spiritual battle that is being waged for your child’s soul, get on your knees, and pray!

The Screwtape Letters

C. S. Lewis wrote about our sometimes-invisible but always-present struggle in his classic The Screwtape Letters. Thirty-one fictional letters from the elder demon Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood describe the process of tempting human “patients” and foiling their efforts to live the Christian life.

If you are unfamiliar with this literary gem, find a copy and read it for yourself! Until then, enjoy this modern-day “Screwtape Letter” for the homeschool mom, adapted from the second, third, and fourth letters in Lewis’s book.

I leave you with Lewis’s own caution from his preface:

“Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.”

My dear Wormwood,

I see with great displeasure that your patient has become a homeschooler. There is no need to despair; we have recovered hundreds of these well-meaning mothers after just a few months of school. Meanwhile, we must make the best of the situation.

When in doubt, look to the homeschool child as your greatest ally at the present moment. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the high-achieving youngster your patient sees on mommy blogs and Instagram, or the eager, tidy, and respectful children her veteran homeschool friends have raised. 

I mean her real child, that stubborn and noisy human being who worries and interrupts his mother at every waking hour. When your patient corrects a lesson, she finds deliciously scribbled and misspelled words. When she begins to teach, the child cries and argues. Take advantage of this by leaning heavily on those foolish mistakes and childish tears.  

Bait her with perfection to fuel her homeschool doubts

At this stage, you see, your patient holds to an ideal of “homeschooling” that she believes to be practical but which, in fact, is merely a fabrication. Look no further than Instagram if you have any doubts on this useful subject of comparison traps.

I get positively giddy when other homeschool mothers make her feel like she can’t measure upThe patient’s mind entertains thoughts of a piano prodigy, Pinterest-perfect schoolroom, and future college scholarships. That her awkward, left-handed child can’t read or write yet is this perfectionist right-handed mother’s thorn in the flesh.

Here lies our opportunity. Work hard on the cloud of disappointment which will certainly descend on your patient. This anticlimax will fuel her homeschool doubts.

Keep her mind on academics

Always keep the patient’s mind on flashcards and worksheets. Remind her to dwell on multiplication tables and spelling tests. She thinks homeschooling equals “academics,” so she therefore shifts her attention to lesson planning and curriculum purchases.

Keep her mind off the most elementary teaching tools—conversation and parent modeling—and direct her mind to the more prestigious academic duties of the homeschool mother. Fill her day with such busyness that there is no time to reflect on the Enemy. When home life becomes strained, let her think her talents are unappreciated and could be put to more profitable use elsewhere.

Distract and mislead her

Do not forget that the best thing, whenever possible, is to keep the patient from serious prayer. Whenever she listens to the Enemy Himself, we suffer a defeat. But you can prevent this. Simply turn her gaze away from Him towards herself.

When she kneels to pray for wisdom or gentleness, let her really try to reassure herself that she is wise compared to other parents, and far more gentle than her misbehaving child deserves.

Furthermore, train her to estimate the value of a prayer by its success in producing these desired feelings. By no means let her suspect that this kind of success will often depend on her mood of the moment. This is where you want her: swirling in her homeschool doubts. To achieve this goal is to achieve success.

Your affectionate uncle,


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Homeschool doubts hit every homeschool mom, but you don’t have to fight this battle alone. Take a cue from this modern adaptation of The Screwtape Letters.