Screwtape Letter for the Homeschool Mom

Screwtape Letter for the Homeschool Mom @writeshop

By Daniella Dautrich

YOUR calling as a homeschooling mom flows out of your calling to live a life hidden in Christ Jesus (Colossians 3:3). If 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 by C.S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis wrote about our sometimes-invisible but ever-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; hundreds of these well-meaning mothers have been recovered after just a few months of school. Meanwhile, we must make the best of the situation.

Our greatest ally at the present moment is the homeschooled child itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the high-achieving youngsters your patient reads about in magazines, or the eager, tidy, and respectful children raised by her veteran homeschool friends. 

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

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 Pinterest if you have any doubts on this useful subject of comparison traps.

I get positively giddy when other homeschool moms make her feel badThe patient’s mind entertains visions of a violin prodigy, picture-perfect schoolroom, and future college scholarships. The fact that her awkward, left-handed child can’t read or write yet is a real—though not verbally acknowledged—difficulty to her.

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 her flashcards and worksheets. Remind her to dwell on multiplication tables and spelling tests. She thinks homeschooling is something “academic,” and her attention is therefore focused on lesson plans and physical curriculum. (If the textbooks were expensive, so much the better.)

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. If home life becomes strained, let her think that 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 are defeated, but there are ways of preventing 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.

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 whether she is well or ill, fresh or tired, at that particular moment. This is where you want her.

Your affectionate uncle,

SCREWTAPE

Related Post - You Can’t Write: Screwtape Letter for the Homeschool Mom

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Photo: Ian.Kobylanski, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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24 comments ↓

#1 Maggie on 09.09.13 at 11:19 am

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.

#2 Sallie Borrink on 09.09.13 at 12:18 pm

Thank you.

#3 Linda Gabriel on 09.09.13 at 3:54 pm

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.

#4 Kim on 09.09.13 at 5:37 pm

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

#5 Daniella Dautrich on 09.09.13 at 7:42 pm

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

#6 Daniella Dautrich on 09.09.13 at 7:45 pm

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

#7 Daniella Dautrich on 09.09.13 at 7:53 pm

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!

#8 Daniella Dautrich on 09.09.13 at 7:56 pm

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

#9 Kristal on 09.10.13 at 7:05 am

Genius. And so needed this AM.

#10 Margaret on 09.10.13 at 9:21 am

Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.

#11 Melissa on 09.10.13 at 4:50 pm

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!!

#12 Kim on 09.10.13 at 11:17 pm

So glad you ladies were blessed!

#13 Daniella Dautrich on 09.10.13 at 11:18 pm

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.

#14 Adriana on 09.11.13 at 1:45 pm

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!

#15 Karen on 09.11.13 at 8:39 pm

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!

#16 Daniella Dautrich on 09.11.13 at 8:56 pm

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!

#17 Daniella Dautrich on 09.11.13 at 9:08 pm

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!

#18 Kristin Ludwig on 09.11.13 at 9:23 pm

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.

#19 Daniella Dautrich on 09.11.13 at 10:33 pm

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).

#20 Joyfulmomof6 on 09.16.13 at 4:23 pm

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

#21 Tracy on 09.18.13 at 5:34 am

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.

#22 Kim on 09.18.13 at 5:52 am

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

#23 TobyLauren Burgess on 09.30.13 at 2:15 pm

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!

#24 Kim on 10.04.13 at 11:56 am

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

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