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,

SCREWTAPE

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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.

24 Comments

  1. Maggie

    This? Brilliant and oh so sadly true. Thank you for sharing. Praying many, many homeschooling mamas will see this and will be reminded it’s not about school – it’s about seeking Jesus.

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      Thanks for writing, Maggie! For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!

      Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      You’re very welcome, Sallie. Praying blessings for you this school year!

      Reply
  2. Linda Gabriel

    Thank-you Daniella, and Kim for sharing this. I only wish I had come across this, oh say about 10 years ago when I was up to my neck in homeschooling and definitely could relate to much of what is observed here. I’m a retired homeschool mom now, but I know this would be a good reminder for many of my friends and will be sharing it.

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      I’m so glad you feel free to share this, Linda. As one of the “homeschool veterans,” you have much to offer by way of encouragement to other moms!

      Reply
  3. Kim

    You ladies bless me! I’m honored to have Daniella writing for us. She’s a young woman of great wisdom!

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      Thanks, Kim. I’m so blessed by the mentors, prayer warriors, and teachers in my life!

      Reply
  4. Kristal

    Genius. And so needed this AM.

    Reply
  5. Margaret

    Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.

    Reply
  6. Melissa

    This was wonderful, and very timely for me. Today is day 6 of my adventures in homeschooling our 4 kids. I was struggling today to know how to help one child in particular, and this post was just what I needed to read. Thank you!!

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      I love the way the Lord orchestrates things… He knows exactly what needs to be written, and what needs to be read! Thank you, ladies, for taking the time to share and comment.

      Reply
  7. Kim

    So glad you ladies were blessed!

    Reply
  8. Adriana

    Thank you, this is a great reminder, the first year I really thought I was homeschooling my children for academic reasons, but these last months God has showed that is about so much more!
    I want this book from C.S. Lewis!

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      You will love the book, Adriana! I hope the year ahead is a wonderful time of growing together for you and your kids. God bless!

      Reply
  9. Karen

    EXACTLY what I needed to hear!! After 6 years of homeschooling and being homeschooled myself, this is true even for “veteran” homeschooling moms! I have sooo struggled since the beginning of the school year with the “have I been doing the right thing” and “did I mess my kids up!” It’s about staying the course and trusting GOD with my eyes on him!! Is it OK to share with my homeschool group on Monday? I would LOVE for them to hear this as well!

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      I really appreciate your feedback, Karen! Of course, feel free to share with other moms. Please do mention the source (www.writeshop.com/blog) and always include the full link on printed copies–thanks!

      Reply
  10. Kristin Ludwig

    Wow, how could you ever recover from being LEFT HANDED, like that is a problem. Loved the concept…Loved the message just did not realize my grandfather, my daughter and I had a condition. Silly me I thought we were blessed.

    Reply
    • Daniella Dautrich

      Kristin, no offense whatsoever was intended! The left-handed illustration merely highlights the frustration a right-handed parent might feel during handwriting lessons. Your daughter is blessed to have a mom who embraces this family heritage (unlike one of my favorite authors, Eudora Welty, who was unfortunately broken of her left-handedness at an early age).

      Reply
  11. Joyfulmomof6

    That was fantastic!
    Even going into my 14th year homeschooling, I always need a reminder. Thank you

    Reply
    • Kim

      Tracy and Joyfulmomof6: Thanks to both of you for blessing us with your sweet comments.

      Reply
  12. Tracy

    Thanks for sharing this. I wish I could have read this years ago when I was teaching my children. My kids are now grown (20 and 23 yrs old), but I clearly remember having so many of these doubtful thoughts. I’ll be forwarding this to my homeschooling friends.

    Reply
  13. TobyLauren Burgess

    I love this article! May I please share it with my home school community? We are a non-profit organization that supports home education in Alberta, and send our members a bi-monthly magazine. This would be very timely for our moms in this upcoming issue. Please let me know!

    Reply
    • Kim

      If you’re interested in sharing one of our articles in your homeschool publication, just shoot me an email! kim @ writeshop.com

      Reply

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