The joy of having children is not just in seeing them grow up, but in growing up with them. Seeing how they are coming along is fine, but it doesn’t compare to the experience of participating in their evolution, and expanding your concept of yourself as a person in the process.
As a society, we place a lot of emphasis on family values, but this does not mean that family is central to our lives. On the contrary, it is a reaction to the reality of emotional distance and physical separation that many families are experiencing. It is an expression of nostalgia. As a parallel, country music wasn’t popular in America when most people lived on farms. It started to become popular when more people started to move to cities, and it has become popular in other countries around the world that are experiencing similar demographic transitions.
Also by way of parallel, the Tao Te Ching says,
“When Tao is lost, virtue arises.
When virtue is lost, benevolence arises.
When benevolence is lost, morality arises.
When morality is lost, etiquette arises.
Etiquette is the husk of faith,
and the beginning of chaos.”
Similarly, it might be said that when familial cohesion is lost, family values arise.
“To spend more time with my kids” is the wish of every overworked parent. But more and more families are demonstrating that the demands of modern life don’t have to compartmentalize family members, that education can involve parents and children in a cooperative, mutually beneficial process instead of segregating and isolating them.
Millions of homeschooling families have found that it is possible to rewrite the societal script for how children should be raised, and eminently worthwhile. For the most part, they aren’t doing it because they have to, but because of the rewards it brings, because they find the role of parent-as-partner far more fulfilling than the role of parent-as-provider. In doing so they are rediscovering a meaning of family that goes beyond just sharing a home to actually sharing life. Children are not just an opportunity to teach, they are an opportunity to learn and to grow, if we are up to answering the call.