Family Culture

Thank you for all of the comments regarding my last post. I have been very interested in what you all have to say. I’ll confess to being surprised by two anonymous writers who interpreted our struggle with the decision to put our girls in school to be a reflection of an attitude of superiority regarding homeschooling. I will say it now: homeschooling is not for everyone. There are people who cannot, for a variety of reasons, homeschool their children. There are others who choose not to homeschool for a variety of reasons, one of which is simply that they do not believe it is the best choice for their children or themselves.

My struggle was not rooted in snobbery or an attitude that I, and I alone, am the only one capable of teaching my daughters. The struggle came from a much deeper place. We were faced with altering our family culture and that did not come easily to us. I’m sure there is a sociological definition of Family Culture, but to me it is the unique way that a family lives in order to reflect what they value. It is the fabric of the way we live as individual families.

Every family culture is different, but as you spend time with a family, you begin to see what they hold to be important. We know families who highly value athletics. They devote much of their time and finances to the pursuit of athletic excellence. They support one another’s activities, often traveling distances to cheer for and support each other.

Other families value the arts and music. We know families whose children play instruments, paint, draw, or write poetry. They devote time and finances to this pursuit because they value creativity and beauty.

One family we know values living close to nature. They garden, raise animals, preserve their own food, dry herbs, and grow beautiful flowers. They hike, press flowers, have picnics, chop firewood, and generally spend much of their time out of doors. For them, this is a healthy way to live and it is part of their identity.

One key to discovering your family culture would be too look at where you choose to spend your money and your time. Do you devote your time and money to the arts? Do you devote your time and money to your church and missions? Do you devote your time and money to athletics or recreation?

Another way to discover your family culture is to ask people to describe your family. Some families enjoy having something of a group identity. They ALL play sports, they ALL play instruments, they ALL love cooking. These moms love to dress their children in matching clothes when they are little and cultivate a feeling of “we belong together”.

Other families value individuality and uniqueness. Each child is encouraged to pursue his/her own interests and express themselves. Families will often put children in different schools in order to develop particular interests, when that is available.

Back to my family and the difficulty we had putting our daughters in school. We made the decision to homeschool when Sweet Pea was four years old. We were young and had no idea where God was going take us in our lives, but one thing we knew is that we wanted to have a close-knit family. We wanted children who considered their siblings to be amongst their best friends. We wanted to be a family of faith with traditions that encouraged our children to grow in their own faith, but also in our faith together. We wanted the freedom to pursue our family’s interests as we educated our children. Homeschooling seemed the best way for our family to accomplish these goals.

Our decision to adopt orphaned children was rooted in our family culture. Russ and I did not make this decision apart from our children. We discussed it with them, prayed as a family, and went through the long process together. Just last Sunday we had a family meeting and encouraged our older children to remember that ministry to orphaned children does not end once they arrive home, they are doing ministry as they love and help care for their brothers and sisters.

Having our children in school did not fit into the family culture we had created. Our new children had unique needs, and although we could have forced them to fit in our pre-established way of life, we had to adapt our family culture to make it work for them, and ultimately for all of us. Honeybee and Dimples are as much a part of our family as any of our other children, and our family culture had to expand. It was a slow process of letting go of something we had held dear as we realized that there was something better in store. Our family culture had to take a deep breath and expand.

So here we are, breathing deeply and embarking on something new. Is it a long term change? I don’t know. I only know that for now it is best and I love my daughters more than I love homeschooling. A friend told me that her husband, who is a minister, preached a sermon entitled, “Embrace the adventure and let go of the dream”. I have been pondering that as we have faced these changes. I’m sure there is a future blog post in the making.

Humbly,

~Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

24 Comments

  1. The Pichura Family
    February 9, 2009

    Thank you…that was beautiful. I loved the way you described it…family culture…gives me lots to think about already! 🙂 Don't stop being open and honest…it has been a sweet blessing to see your heart on paper and to realize it often echo's my own heart or gives me thoughts to ponder..perspective that I did not have before.And I loved the sermon title "Embrace the adventure and let go of the dream."…after all, "Many are the plans in a mans heart put it is the Lord's purpose that will prevail."

    Reply
  2. spdfish
    February 9, 2009

    Lisa, I’m enjoying following along your adventures. I think you’re focusing on the right thing—Love! And clearly that’s the root of your new decision. It’s really more important than anything else.

    Reply
  3. KT
    February 9, 2009

    Im so sorry Lisa, that anyone had anything but encouraging words to say to you. (possibly consider removing the option for comments to annonomous, because one should really be will to put their name on anything they feel the need to share!)
    What a great family you are!!!

    Reply
  4. Laurel
    February 9, 2009

    Lisa,

    I am shocked by the anonymous comments. So sad!

    We, too, have chosen homeschooling as our Family Culture. I LOVE how you explained that. But, I have never told anyone that everyone should home. And, I have definitely known children that I believed would have been better off in the public schools. However, I would not tell their parents that, because each parent needs to choose what they believe is best for each child.

    For now … school might be a good fit for the girls. You will watch them closely … you will watch your family dynamics closely. If you see a need to bring them home, in one month, or one year, or 5 years … you will do what is best for your family culture.

    Blessings,

    Laurel

    Reply
  5. darci
    February 9, 2009

    beautiful, Lisa.

    Reply
  6. Anonymous
    February 9, 2009

    What a GREAT job you’re doing as a mom, and how blessed we all are by your vulnerability to share from your life in order to serve others!

    Be encouraged, friend, that God uses your blog and your family to encourage families who are trying to love children in Jesus’ name. I hope it takes the sting away from comments on the blog from people who don’t understand your perspective…..I here-bye dub you “Her Graciousness of Blogdom!” Your rock in my book!

    Hugs to you!

    Lisa H.

    Reply
  7. Julie J.
    February 9, 2009

    To Lisa and the world out there,
    I have personally known Lisa in “real life” and not just in a yahoogroup, on facebook, or from a blog for almost 20 years. Lisa, you are a dear one. And you are anything but prideful, self-righteous, or even snobbish. I am so grateful to know you, your humility and your true heart. Sorry that folks who don’t know you would dare to think otherwise.

    Love, Julie

    Reply
  8. Anonymous
    February 9, 2009

    Unbelievable that a post that encouraged folks to homeschool or send your kids to school (however one is led) would be seen as shocking or interpreted as saying there is some snobbery in the decision to homeschool. I think the response was that an apology for sending kids to school is an odd situation indeed. ‘Nuf said. Guess the twain won’t meet here.

    Reply
  9. Anonymous
    February 9, 2009

    Mom…in regards to that anonymous comment on your last post…

    Does 2,700 sq. feet count as a mansion? And if so, why are there six children sleeping in the nursery?

    -Mimi

    Reply
  10. NCLighthousekeeper
    February 10, 2009

    You said that very well. The choice to homeschool does create a unique family dynamic, or family culture, that often runs on a different wavelength, different schedule, different intensity than other types of schools. Meshing the two together is certainly possible, but requires some significant changes in family life, especially for those like you who have homeschooled for a long time. The opposite is true as well, and I don’t think that those who pull their children out of public or private school to homeschool always consider the fundamental change in their family culture that will occur as a result. It is a big adjustment either way. I pray God will bless you and your children as you and Russ follow your hearts and God’s leading for the good of all your children.

    Reply
  11. Toiling Ant
    February 10, 2009

    “I love my daughters more than I love homeschooling”….

    I think THAT is the key- doing what’s right for each child. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Becky
    February 10, 2009

    Lisa,
    What a wonderful way you have with words! I love your definition of family culture. And I also love your willlingness to share your families happenings and adventures with all of us. I have learned much. I admire your decision to do what is best for your daughters, even when it is a difficult change to make. I know it would be a difficult change for me as well, with having homeschooled for so many years. And yet, with our 3 older children coming from Ethiopia soon, I have known that I need to keep public school as an open option for what might be best for them. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessings, Becky

    Reply
  13. Shonni
    February 10, 2009

    I loved the way you discussed family culture in this post and you did a great job with it…again, thank you for making yourself vulnerable to encourage other families!!!!

    Reply
  14. Mrs. Deem
    February 10, 2009

    Hi Lisa,

    I found your blog through, “Crazy for Kids.” Thank-you so much for sharing. We are adopting through Ethiopia, and it’s wonderful to hear about other families with bio kids who still feel called to adopt.

    I was homeschooled grades K-12. I remember defending myself to a counselor on the bus ride home from camp. I was in 5th grade, and he was “discussing” with me the downfalls of homeschooling. He said over and over again that I couldn’t possibly be socially adept. I distinctly remember thinking, “I am in 5th grade! I have been on this bus holding a conversation with you for 2 hours. What more do you want?” 😉

    I’ve grew up with a few legalistic families who seemed to do it to separate from society–and also some amazing families who seemed to do it to impact society. I think that when your motivation is to cultivate a love for learning, and a close family heritage…however you make that happen is OK. (Public, private, homeschool)

    We are homeschooling now, but my oldest went to private school last year. I LOVED the quote, “Embrace the adventure and let go of the dream.” Love it!! I think that totally sums it up. So many times God puts us in uncharted territory…and it doesn’t always feel good. But, He leads us nonetheless 😉

    Thanks for sharing your story and for being willing to do what was right for your daughters at this moment in their lives.

    Blessings~
    Sarah

    Reply
  15. the ewings
    February 10, 2009

    I love this post, Lisa. You are such an awesome Mom and encouraged me to release the dream and ride the adventure!!! Much love, Chris

    Reply
  16. Jennifer
    February 10, 2009

    Lisa,
    I am a fan of your blog; see my blog for a project that is just beginning that I think you should be a part of!
    Jennifer

    Reply
  17. Jen
    February 10, 2009

    Well said. Well said.

    Reply
  18. Melinda
    February 10, 2009

    Love this post Lisa! I completely respect you and how you share your heart on your blog. I look up to you and what you stand for so I for one truly appreciate your perspective. I am sorry that someone would question your motives or think that you were ever judging someone else. I think you have done a wise thing and I hope that if I am in the same position in the future, that I would make the same God inspired decision. Thank you for your honesty and for your encouragement.

    Reply
  19. Laurel
    February 11, 2009

    LOVE Mimi’s comment. I, too, couldn’t believe the comment about the “mansion on the hill”. You do have a beautiful home, and it does look bigger the 2700 sq. ft. But … hey … it’s just a shack compared to the Duggar house.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  20. Ann
    February 11, 2009

    Lisa, I love this post and your last post. We are a public school family who had the opposite happen–we decided three days before school started that Vu needed to be homeschooled! And since he has a same-age brother we decided to keep them both home this year and now find ourselves on the opposite side of the fence–explaining to the school and friends our decision to h.s.

    It is not about whether one is better than the other, it is about whether one is better than the other FOR EACH FAMILY AND EACH CHILD–which is exactly what your posts were about.

    Once again, you put into words what is difficult. Never stop writing–even amidst negative comments–which are usually about underlying issues that have nothing to do with you.

    Reply
  21. this is us
    February 11, 2009

    always love your thoughts Lisa! I’d love to hear (if you are comfortable) some of the routines you are finding that work for Dimples when she comes home in the afternoon (what you called re-entry). When Avi was in school, that was when we “felt” it the most. We are considering sending he and Jaso to school next year (my husband is taking the job of Assistant Principal at the school he’d attend!) and I am really trying to think through that re-entry!

    Reply
  22. VanVoorsts
    February 16, 2009

    Beautifully written. I hope the girls are having a good week in school and I hope the kids at home are too. We’ve done both public school and homeschooling for various reasons that made sense for our family at that time. Thanks for your transparency and wisdom on many issues.

    Reply
  23. Traci
    August 24, 2012

    I am absolutely crazy in love with every word you have written here. I think I'll repost it to my fb friends. But I really love how you brought it back to your Momma's heart at the end. Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even the culture of your family, is more important than loving your kiddos. You said said it best: "I only know that for now it is best and I love my daughters more than I love homeschooling." Thank you! Traci

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      August 24, 2012

      Thank you, Traci. I would love to have you share it with your FB friends.

      Reply

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