So you feel like a failure? Screwtape Letter for the Homeschool Mom

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

By Daniella Dautrich

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HOW often 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, the third in a series of Screwtape Letters for the Homeschool Mom. May you be encouraged and blessed on your homeschool journey!

My dear Wormwood,

I was delighted to hear that your patient renewed some desirable acquaintances over the Christmas holidays. Her second cousins are just the sort of people we want her to know—rich, superficial, and skeptical of anything they cannot see with their own eyes. 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.

Has she entered the January doldrums, now that Christmas joy is past? Does she move through the house slowly, in a dull, despondent mood? We must take advantage of the situation. Lose no time making her believe that she is a failure who ought to quit homeschooling altogether.

The Prison of the Senses

Imprison the patient’s mind in the world of the five senses. Let her see her house for what it really is: a dining room table covered with crumbs and playdough, a china cabinet overflowing with bills, and a yard that looks nothing like the tidy school playground down the street.

Take her upstairs, and let her count more children than bedrooms. Let her hear a baby crying; make her watch a preschooler litter the floor with toys and clothes. 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, and keep her ignorant of the spiritual root of her problems.

Dark Clouds of Guilt

By now, she has probably made a lavishly long list of confident resolutions, of promises to the Enemy and to herself. 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.

Paralyzing Fear

Has the mother allowed you to creep into her thought life with visions of fear? Press your advantage, and remember that gratitude looks to the past and love to the present—but fear looks to the future.

The stronghold of fear is paralyzing. She will never be able to clean her house and purge things, in fear that she may need the stuff in the future. She will be unable to discipline her children during the school day, in fear that they will hate her in the future.

Remember, the Enemy wants her to live in the present: loving her children, keeping them safe, meeting their needs, and training their hearts. We want her to be hag-ridden by the future: haunted by visions of angry, illiterate creatures that she failed to properly raise and educate.

Disguise the Troughs

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, when 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 will only attempt to walk through the dark valleys, He is pleased—even with their stumbles.

Do not let your patient suspect any of this. Convince her that the trough is permanent, that Heaven is silent, and that her stumbles can never be wiped clean or forgotten.

Your affectionate uncle,


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Photo: edillalo, courtesy of Creative Commons.


  • Posted January 20, 2014

    Mary Lindsey

    Beautifully written!!! My eyes are so opened & my heart so encouraged!! Wow!

    • Posted January 21, 2014

      Daniella Dautrich

      Thank you, Mary! So glad to hear this post touched your heart this week.

  • Posted January 21, 2014


    Amazing and eye-opening!! A little chilling, too…

    • Posted January 21, 2014

      Daniella Dautrich

      Thank you, Shelly! I’ve been listening to a dramatized version of the original Screwtape Letters, and it gives me the chills every time.

  • Posted January 22, 2014


    Absolutely perfect.

    • Posted January 23, 2014

      Daniella Dautrich

      Thank you, Andi!

  • Posted January 23, 2014

    Rebecca N

    This is an amazing and encouraging perspective! Thank you!

    • Posted January 23, 2014

      Daniella Dautrich

      You’re very welcome, Rebecca!

  • Posted January 24, 2014


    I sit here on the verge of tears realizing that I have been hearing a lot of these things and more. I don’t want to feel like a failure anymore. Thank you so much for writing these posts (I read all 3). I can see now where those thoughts are coming from. I pray I can refocus and lean on God more than I have been.

    • Posted January 27, 2014

      Daniella Dautrich

      You’re not alone, Nicole…. I’ve struggled with so many feelings of failure these past few months. I think we all need constant reminders of His grace and sufficiency! I pray your heart is renewed and refreshed, day by day.

    • Posted February 14, 2014

      Kim Kautzer

      Nicole, I’m so sorry that I missed seeing your comment earlier, but I wanted to acknowledge it and thank you for your honesty. I will be praying with you that God will be the One who influences your thoughts. May you be richly blessed!

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