Overwhelmed by “Expert Advice”

Posted on Feb 1 2012 in Homeschool Encouragement by mbarnes

This post is part of a series by Melissa Barnes titled, “Sitting at My Savior’s Feet…A Short Devotional for Homeschool Moms.” 

I nursed all my children, so when we adopted our son, I decided I wanted to attempt to breastfeed him. I knew it would be a challenge, but it sounded easier than learning to bottle feed and paying for formula. I entered the NICU where he was born, armed with my trusty nursing pillow and eleven cumulative years of nursing experience.

About five hours later I sneaked out of the hospital, ran for the car, and vowed not to attempt breastfeeding my new baby until we were in the privacy of our home…all because of “expert advice.”

Had we been left to our own devices, I suspect my son and I would have done just fine. Instead, we had a lactation consultant, a feeding specialist, and a NICU nurse all intently watching as we fumbled our way through the first feeding. These people had the best of intentions and do a great service through their work, but I left that short session with more suggestions than I could process, feeling overwhelmed, confused, and inadequate.

I think my nursing experience is replicated far too often in the homeschooling community. Parents come to homeschooling from a variety of paths, but most begin with a degree of trepidation and uncertainty.

Can I really teach my own children?
What if I mess up?
I’ll never be able to homeschool as well as…

We begin our journey, experience a little success, gain some confidence, and then—Wham!  Something occurs to make us question ourselves all over again.

Much like my experience with my baby, it is often good things that cause our confidence to falter. Perhaps we read a book or attend a seminar or talk to a homeschool veteran. We get great tips, learn new methods, or hear encouraging success stories. But instead of inspiring us, they make us question our abilities or our outcomes. They leave us feeling inadequate or unequipped. We lose confidence in ourselves.

We become overwhelmed by “expert advice.”

In reality, we have forgotten our calling. We don’t homeschool because of any credentials we have earned from outside sources. Our qualifications do not come from the state or the local homeschool organization or the neighbor down the street. We aren’t successful because of any books we have read or workshops we have attended. We don’t teach because we have found the perfect curriculum or enrolled in the ultimate co-op.

Those of us who homeschool do it because God has called us to teach our children. He placed the desire in our hearts (Ephesians 4:1), gave us a scriptural mandate to teach our children (Deuteronomy 4:9, 6:6-9), and equipped us for the task (Ephesians 2:10, 2 Timothy 3:17). We don’t need our work validated by any “homeschool experts.”

Seeking wise counsel from those who are more experienced, reading a book on an area of weakness, attending a workshop for ideas and refreshment…these are all positive and helpful things for any homeschooler. But the minute you begin to feel that your homeschooling is under a microscope, that you are inadequate, or that you should not trust your own instincts about what is best for your children, PAUSE. Put the books and curriculum catalogs away. Turn off the podcasts, and stop answering the phone. Go to the throne of the One who created you and placed His children in your care. Ask Him to remind you of your calling and of His equipping, and bask in the reality that His is the only expert advice you will ever need to take.

In what ways have you allowed the “experts” to rob you of your calling to homeschool?  How often do you look to outside sources for advice or validation rather than to the LORD? What steps can you take this week to direct your focus back to His word to equip you for the task of teaching your children?

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