Karen Campbell’s The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling: When the One Anothers Come Home is just as beautiful inside the cover as it is on the outside. The content also happens to apply to much more than homeschooling, speaking toward the overarching theme of loving our children–specifically through the lens of the oft overlooked “one anothering commands” toward this littlest “one anothers” God places in our homes–regardless of how we educate them.
Campbell is a veteran homeschool mother of six children, and has now entered into the season of grandparenting. In The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling, she weaves together stories of her childhood, her experience of becoming a homeschool mom (long before it was a movement), and a deeper look at applying Scripture to our parenting and educating of our children. But Campbell’s work is not merely anecdotal. She references a number of scientific and practical resources, and also dissects multiple Scripture passages in presenting parents with the need to apply the “one anothering” passages at home, and at our children, who are often overlooked in these applications.
Campbell speaks often of “organic” mothering, a concept that can also be considered holistic mothering. She emphasizes the importance of loving our children through all of their stages, and addresses many of the ways that recent (Christian and secular) parenting advice has created an adversarial view of the parent-child relationship.
This book is self-published, and well done overall; at times ( my small complaint on this book), I felt some of the thoughts disjointed and perhaps could have been more streamlined. This may also be due the fact that I read this book on my Kindle app, which sometimes creates spacing and page organization issues that leave me feeling scatter-brained. (But this book was valuable enough to me that I also purchased a paper copy!)
If you are a Christian mother or father, but don’t feel that your family is currently in a good place to homeschool, I would still recommend this book as an encouraging read about building deep, spiritual relationships with your children. (While the author does indeed rather strongly recommend homeschooling, I feel that someone already convinced in their family’s path would still benefit from the book.)
Reading this book was a huge encouragement to me as a mother of younger children, and also an affirmation of some of the ways we’ve intentionally chosen to choose alternative-to-mainstream options in our parenting. The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling is also a refreshing, burden-lifting book, in that it points to Scripture and allows younger and older parents alike to see that many of the “commandments of men” are often actually antithetical to true Biblical teaching.
“If we look on the pages of the Bible, on the surface we see very little direct instruction for raising children. We see even less that tells us what sorts of subjects to include in daily lesson plans. There are no how-to lists, and yet, how often Christian parents readily welcome any and every teaching on raising children that labels itself as “biblical” while ignoring the very real commands for relationship building that are found in the passages of Scripture called the “one another” verses.
Love one another. Encourage one another. Pray for one another. Submit to one another. Serve one another. Scripture is filled with dozens of these lovely one another passages that teach us how to be successful. When we apply these verses appropriately in individual ways with our own children and within the context of the homeschooling family, we begin to enjoy the fruits of our labors in amazing and unexpected ways!” (Introduction)
“Jesus set the tone for all of us regarding the importance of children in His kingdom, in His order of life. They are not the ones to be set aside and out of the way in our churches, placed somewhere so they don’t disturb the “real worshippers.” Children are not the ones who should be taught to always go to the end of the line or to sit at the “children’s tables.” Children are not the ones to be treated with disrespect and told ”children are to be seen and not heard.” They are not to be trained as dogs or frightened into compliance with “disciplinary” weaponry. Instead, Jesus “took them in His arms, put his hands on them, and blessed them” (Mark 10:16).”
“[T]hankfulness is a heart response, one that comes by knowing who God is and one that comes by His grace alone, not by punitive measures. As we disciple our children and demonstrate by our own example what genuine thankfulness looks like, we can trust that God will impress on their hearts a desire to worship Him with a thankful heart.”
“In our parenting zeal, we often forget what it was like to be a child. They are shorter than adults and closer to the ground so they see things we miss. Everything is new to them and they want to examine and explore. Their concept of time is measured by events rather than a schedule. When they have teething pain they have no idea why. When they wake up alone in a dark quiet room, they are scared and just want to be with somebody else. Their little bodies do not comprehend a menu plan, they just know they are uncomfortable and eating makes them feel better. Bearing the burdens of our children is no mystery, it is meeting needs they have simply because they are children; it is seeing each one as someone in need of an advocate rather than as an adversary.”
“We, ourselves, are further down the path than our little ones. We know the dangers and trials associated with sin as well as life’s struggles; we, too, have wallowed in the Slough of Despond. So when our precious children fall and are tempted to despair, we can come alongside them and are able to give them steps to returning back to the path! What a privilege it is to be called to such a glorious ministry of encouragement in their lives.”
“If we are harsh in our approach to others, we are demonstrating that we are not qualified to admonish anyone because it shows our lack of spiritual maturity. The opposite of harshness is the spirit of gentleness, which in the Greek means “with humility,” lest we also be tempted. If we look at this verse in terms of relating to our children, we have to ask how we can be tempted. I think it could be when we forget that we are sinners, too, and that we, ourselves, are overtaken daily in trespasses. When we reject a humble, gentle attitude toward our children, we are tempted to mistreat them, physically and verbally. We can either build up and restore a child by our words and actions or we can tear down and lord it over them, showing no spirit of humility whatsoever. We, too, are sinners in need of a Savior, and are still a work in progress ourselves. How we respond to sin in the lives of our children will have lasting consequences and if we are harsh might even cause them to give up altogether. “
“Little ones often need help, most of the day, as a matter of fact. We have the choice of either helping them or frustrating them further by not taking their needs into consideration and, instead, going straight into chastisement because we think they aren’t doing what we think they should do. A kind mother recognizes that a child is sometimes frustrated and begins by coming alongside to assist.”