Study: homeschooled children less likely to leave their faith

A family praying and reading the Bible
A family praying and reading the Bible

Lindsay, a super-mom who homeschools her kids with her super-husband Doug, sent me this article from Christian News.

Quick blurb:

The recently-released findings from an in-depth study of nearly 10,000 young adults show that Millennials who were homeschooled are less likely to leave the faith than individuals who attended private or public schools.

Late last month, Generations with Vision and the National Home Education Research Institute published the results of their Gen2 Survey. The study explores the correlations between different educational methods and the spiritual decisions of Millennials who were raised in the church.

“The purpose of the study is to examine these adults who were churched growing up and to understand the key influences which either encouraged or deterred them from believing and practicing the faith of their parents,” said the survey’s director and lead researcher, Dr. Brian Ray.

Using a sample size of 9,369 18-to 38-year-olds who were churched while growing up, the Gen2 Survey collected data on Millennials’ educational backgrounds, worldviews, and religious beliefs. The study found that individuals who were homeschooled, attended church regularly, and had good relationships with their parents were most likely to remain involved in the Christian faith.

“Having a strong relationship with the child’s mother and father, attending church as a child, and years homeschooled were all clearly positively associated with Millennials’ basic Christian orthodoxy, broader biblical beliefs, Christian behaviors (e.g., attending church, keeping sex in marriage, prayer, not using pornography), satisfaction in life, civic and community involvement, and having beliefs similar to one’s parents,” Ray stated.

87% of study participants who were homeschooled said they have strong Christian beliefs. Conversely, Millennials who were enrolled in public schools or private Christian schools were more likely to walk away from the faith later in life.

“Number of years in Christian school and number of years in public school were negatively associated with most of the adult beliefs and behaviors just mentioned,” Ray explained.

Statistically, homeschooled young adults were six times as likely to be believers and seven times as likely to be stronger in their Christian beliefs as Millennials attending private schools. Homeschooled Millennials were also two times as likely to be stronger in Christian beliefs as those who attended Christian schools or public schools.

I find that when I court Christian women, they pretty much have the idea that kids are are for providing fun for their parents. And if you make a plan to make them achieve anything, then that is bad because it’s less fun for the parents. Sometimes they try to dress it up in emotional or religious language when they are explaining it to others, but under cross-examination, it really turns out to be “marriage and parenting are better when we do whatever I feel like moment by moment”. If the man does not step up during the courtship with the research and get agreement on issues like homeschooling, then he needs to shut it down and move on. Women who are guided by their feelings instead of studies in decisions about how to parent are not safe to marry. Either they accept the the best practices from research, or they are out of the running.

Of course, that necessarily means finding a wife who has done a decent degree, worked a few years, and saved up enough money to help you to keep her at home with young children. I am seeing a lot of men in my office who have decent salaries, but they still can’t keep their wives at home, because their wives ran up $200,000 in student loans (this actually happened to my co-worker Javier). Other times, I see grown women into their mid-30s, still carrying tens of thousands in student loans, and refusing to get a full-time job in their field (this actually happened to a missionary I know who refused to work any job but waitress / bartender). Sometimes, the woman just doesn’t want to stay home, because she likes the feel of earning her own money instead of being dependent on her husband. That screws the kids as well, but it’s a very popular attitude today. These are the things that a man has to check for before he marries – and remember that there is often a great gulf between words and past actions. Don’t be fooled by someone who talks about what they will do in the future, when their past is completely different.

So if a couple determines that they are going to have no strict approach to how to parent the kids, then they should not be surprised their children fall away from the faith. Either you are aware of who is teaching your kids, and what they are teaching them, or you are not. It is no coincidence that the secular left pushes for earlier and earlier starts to schooling and more and more free college. They know that the more they get the kids away from their parents and in with peers of the same age and secular leftist professors and teaches, the more those kids are likely to adopt their values – not the values of their parents. Not the values of grown-ups who have to survive in the real world with common sense.

22 thoughts on “Study: homeschooled children less likely to leave their faith”

  1. Anecdotal confirmation: I’ve been homeschooling since about 1990 so I’ve seen a lot of homeschoolers grow up. It’s true. Sure, there are kids who walk away from the faith here too, but far fewer. Home educated kids are less likely to acquire groupthink and more likely to be critical, discerning thinkers, and also usually rather immune to the peer-dependency which cripples so many who attend (any) school.
    And so, even when home-educated Christian kids leave the faith or rebel, they have more understanding of what they’re doing; they know what they diss and why. It’s much easier for that person to reason his way through as he lives his life, and find his way back to owning a faith of his own….Kids who rebel without much thought have a much harder road.

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    1. I really think that the problem of peer-reviewed is a big problem. Looking back, I found that having nothing in common with the popular crowd was a blessing in disguise. I started to want to be more like the grown-ups at a young age, and that led to an early transition to working. Then a better resume. Then an earlier car. Faster independence and maturity.

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      1. I attended public school all the way myself, but I was blessed with two parents who were anti-social. Not clinically–they just carried around a “The h– with them” attitude. “I don’t care WHAT everyone else is doing. I’m not their mother.” This schooled me in not caring what others thought about me. A blessing in disguise!

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        1. In a time like this, it’s a great blessing to not feel pressured by the culture. Culture is too much under the control of progressives, and where they want us to go is a bad place.

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  2. Hey! Love your writing. Although I’m not a Christian, I also find it challenging to find a woman who has no debt, believes that education is the parents’ responsibility and this sees home schooling as the default educational model.
    Similar to you, I think, I work as a software developer, have no debt and save/invest diligently so that my future wife can stay home.
    This is only to say that while we may have our differences, in this area, I have also found it particularly challenging. If you have any strategies for finding women who think like this, I’m all ears!

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    1. O e thing I’ve noticed is that I get the most respect and recognition from women with STEM degrees, e.g. BS and MS. They seem to have their heads screwed on straight. Responsible and reliable. When they get married, they make adjustments to their husbands better.

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  3. Insightful post. There is no denying that public education in the US for decades has been used to indoctrinate the young. The Left controls public education. Consider the resistance to giving poor inner city parents school choice for their children. The resistance from the teachers’ unions (corrupt and ideologically leftist) is fierce. We respect and applaud the efforts of homeschooling parents.

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    1. What’s strange us how so many people voted to keep pouring taxpayer money into a secular system. Some people really do bite solely on feelings. They want to feel generous by giving away taxpayer money, without giving away any of their own earnings. So can have someone who has all these feelings of generosity by voting for a big spender. Meanwhile, the debt is now up to $20 trillion.

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  4. “Statistically, homeschooled young adults were six times as likely to be believers and seven times as likely to be stronger in their Christian beliefs as Millennials attending private schools. Homeschooled Millennials were also two times as likely to be stronger in Christian beliefs as those who attended Christian schools or public schools.”

    So Christian schools no better than public ones and private schools much worse? Also interesting.

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  5. I wonder how this guy collected his data. At the beginning of his report, he said he had a high number of home school respondents and made an effort to get some more data from public and private school Millennials who grew up ‘Christian.’ This does not suggest good things about the study. Homeschoolers are about 1-3% of the school-age population so you would expect the same percentage of respondents in his data.
    Anecdotally, I think I can explain some of the results. Many kids who attend Christian school were put there simply because their parents wanted them to have a better school environment or peer group and not necessarily because the school is Christian. Often, the parents simply want the influence of ‘religion’ in their childrens’ lives and see it as a reforming influence. Christian schools tend to get some bad apples from the public schools as well, and also a fair number of children of single mothers.
    In public school growing up, there were hardly any Christians. Of those who were believers, I don’t know how many still attend church.
    Of the homeschoolers I knew growing up that I’ve remained in contact with, all are still believers. I’ve lost track of the other half. Generally, the parents were all very strong believers in the first place, My parents were pretty strong believers also and I was public-schooled.

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  6. “It is no coincidence that the secular left pushes for earlier and earlier starts to schooling and more and more free college. They know that the more they get the kids away from their parents and in with peers of the same age and secular leftist professors and teaches, the more those kids are likely to adopt their values – not the values of their parents. Not the values of grown-ups who have to survive in the real world with common sense.”
    I don’t think this is the case. Parents are pushing for more and more schooling as a form of free or government-subsidized child care. Most non-Christian parents don’t discipline their kids and can’t control them, so they push them off onto the government. There is a “crab bucket” effect on parents that try to behave otherwise.
    Several of the parents on our street, even those who ‘work’ from home, pay the public schools to watch their kids until 5 pm everyday. I wonder why they decided to have kids.
    As an aside, I think you are very dogmatic about child-rearing and what you want in a wife, and what you want your future wife to think about child-rearing. You may want to consider embracing the gift of singleness, as both Jesus and Paul said it was better not to marry for the sake of the kingdom. Women in STEM are a vanishingly small percentage of the available women. Meet a Christian woman at your church or at another church. You’re not going to like everything about a potential wife nor will she like everything about you. You don’t typically know how you will parent until you have kids. My only advice is to take your kids to church, lead them in family worship, and catechize them. The Bible is pretty silent on many other things such as where to send them to school or how to educate them and whether or not it’s best for a woman to stay home or work. Marriage is an act of bringing two lives together for a common purpose. If you are overly picky, you are likely to remain single. I’ve seen pickiness leave many Christian men single into their late 40s.

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  7. Brother,

    I read your marriage plan and the site linked in it. I think Rev. Marinov is a theonomist and/or a Kuyperian. He does not hold to historic Calvinist or Christian distinctions about church and society. Proceeding from false premises, he has laid a heavy burden on you and others who subscribe to theonomist ideas. If you want a Calvinist view of civil government, read the Institutes of the Christian Religion on the topic. The fact is that the “Dominion Mandate” was given as a covenant obligation to the first Adam and fulfilled in the last Adam. We are ‘fruitful and multiply’ now through the Great Commission, not childbearing.

    I think you should read through the Westminster Confession of Faith on marriage (chapter 24). That is what marriage is, and nothing more. You have no mandate to redeem society with your family nor accomplish anything else with it other than be a faithful husband and father.

    On the issue of gender roles, the Bible and nature are both very clear that the man should lead in marriage and the wife should submit to the husband. Men are to live with their lives ‘with understanding’ meaning, we need to learn their feelings and what makes them tick. However, there is no requirement for a woman to stay home full-time if it is not economically feasible or the wife wants to do more. The Proverbs 31 woman is obviously more than a stay-at-home mom. Here is a good summary of what I think the Bible teaches on this topic:
    http://blogs.bible.org/engage/sandra_glahn/staying_home_with_kids_vs._second_income

    You wrote,

    “I find that when I court Christian women, they pretty much have the idea that kids are are for providing fun for their parents. And if you make a plan to make them achieve anything, then that is bad because it’s less fun for the parents. Sometimes they try to dress it up in emotional or religious language when they are explaining it to others, but under cross-examination, it really turns out to be “marriage and parenting are better when we do whatever I feel like moment by moment”. If the man does not step up during the courtship with the research and get agreement on issues like homeschooling, then he needs to shut it down and move on. Women who are guided by their feelings instead of studies in decisions about how to parent are not safe to marry. Either they accept the the best practices from research, or they are out of the running.”

    Working backward from the bottom, there are no ‘best practices from research’ nowadays. “Science” is highly politicized and mostly wrong with most studies reproducing at less than a 40% rate, especially in the social sciences. Moreover, school choice is not a matter of Christian belief as the Bible is largely silent on matters of education. If you want an alternative viewpoint to your own, read “Going Public” by David Pritchard. You are obligated to give your kids Christian instruction in the Scriptures and doctrine, but choice of how to educate them in other matters depends on their temperament, your circumstances, preferences, conscience and abilities. We are considering homeschooling because there aren’t many Christians in public schools for our sons to hang-out with during the day. If more Christians sent their kids to public school, we wouldn’t be reconsidering. If teachers or students try to push alternative worldviews on your kids, what a great opportunity for your kids to take up their cross and accept the consequences for following Jesus and witness for their faith. This is where home Christian education (family worship and catechism) give them the tools they need to overcome the world as Jesus overcame it. Alternatively, you may decide that you want to homeschool your child or send them to a Christian school or other private school. No one can point to the Bible and tell you to do otherwise.

    Joshua Harris is far less certain about courtship these days.
    http://www.npr.org/2016/07/10/485432485/former-evangelical-pastor-rethinks-his-approach-to-courtship
    I can’t find a warrant for it in the Bible. The Bible says it is better to marry than burn with lust for one-another. Otherwise, it is better to stay single. Take her out on a date, have a good time, figure out if she’d be a loving mother and wife. Do not ‘cross-examine’ her on a date or expect her to hold to your views, rather see if you’d be compatible. Be open to changing your own. Marriage is a convergence and a covenant, not a legal contract. Women are led by Godly men, not their feelings. Trust God.

    I’ve written a long comment, but I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years and want to make clear that you aren’t obligated to the things other well-intentioned Christian writers (especially theonomists) have tried to obligate you to. Your conscience is not theirs and is free in Christ.

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    1. I’m not a Calvinist, much less a theonomist! Middle knowledge for the win. And nobody puts regulations on me, I decide my plans myself, based on research. I agree with you that choice is best and it depends on the child (homeschooling vs Christian schools vs private schools). I disagree with you about the usefulness of research, and the importance of having a plan for what you want to achieve through marriage and family.

      Something else about me: I’m not white. Thought you might find that interesting.

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      1. WK,
        I knew you aren’t white. Why did you bring that up?

        I was not suggesting that all research be thrown out, just to take it with an enormous grain of salt and never let it override your own wisdom, common sense, conscience or tradition.

        I thought you were a Calvinist because you link to many Calvinists. Theonomy is not Calvinism, though it claims to be. The guy you linked appears to be a theonomist. Other examples of theonomists are Gary North and Rushdoony and the late Greg Bahnsen who, while a brilliant apologist, had a lot of bad ideas about God’s law.

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        1. I don’t like North, Rushdoony or Bahnsen. I dislike all pre-suppositionalism. I don’t recognize any form of Calvinism that isn’t double-predestination, and so I think that on Calvinism, God necessarily does not love all equally.

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      1. I mentioned Proverbs 31 but other passages are discussed in the link I posted above. Women are not prohibited from working outside the home in Scripture. They are also not commanded to work in the home. It’s a matter of indifference to Scripture. You may decide based on your wisdom, economic status, and conscience that you should stay home, but you cannot tell another woman, “Thus saith the LORD, you shall stay home.” Wives shall be in subjection to their husbands in marriage, but in no way does this prohibit wives from being subjected to a boss at work nor to God – the only absolute authority

        American Evangelicals have an unbiblical view of the Law of God, conscience and authority that binds their conscience and prompts them to bind the conscience of others.

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        1. My view, based on the research, is that women should not work if the child is 0-5. Other that I am with you – work in or out of the home. I personally think that women should work outside the home before the children arrive at least, just so that they are able to have an understanding of it when they are shepherding the children through school and into the workplace.

          One other thing. I would not let my kids work in any job where they were surrounded by other kids and there was alcohol being served. I’ve just noticed that a lot of kids do stupid things because of high school and college peer pressure. I want the kids to work for money, but it’s important where they work. I’m just to come right out and say that a lot of daughters go bad under the influence of peers. Women seem to get their standard of right and wrong more form culture and peers than men do (I mean good men). Parents don’t do enough to explain right and wrong and put it against the backdrop of a lifelong plan rather than the in-the-moment peer pressure.

          Regarding the law of God, conscience and authority. I’m very strict on things like premarital sex and alcohol. I really think that’s where the battle is. People get involved with these things, and then they adjust their worldviews to suit what they’ve done. I’m not like that. Draw the line before you have to draw the line under temptation.

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          1. I read it several times. If this is your point, we agree. I don’t see how it changes what I wrote.

            “Thanks! Understand, I’m not making a case here that we shouldn’t work, but just that the evidence that this ideal Biblical woman worked outside the home is not here.

            Only a cursory reading and a cultural preference will tell you that she did!”

            Evangelicals like to make a huge deal out mothers working “outside the home.” Proverbs 31 neither supports nor prohibits mothers working outside the home and the husband in Proverbs 31 was obviously a rich guy so the wife had options not available to poorer women like Ruth who might have to glean fields. The Proverbs 31 woman was not a career woman, neither did she need to be. Scripture is silent on the issue of how/where women should work.

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          2. You wrote: ” The Proverbs 31 woman is obviously more than a stay-at-home mom. ” The point of my post was that PR31 is regularly held up as “more” than a stay-at-home wife–and that:
            first: there is no evidence of an outside-the-home career in the passage; and that–second: we have to devalue her (round-the-clock) work in her home estate to insist that she is MORE than that.

            Which you indeed did.

            You’ll have to show me the evangelicals who make a huge deal out of women working outside the home. About 98% of the ones I know do work outside the home.

            My point wasn’t whether or not we should. I was only speaking up for Mrs. Pr31–we ought to let her be who she is without asking her to support our various preferences. Most importantly, we ought not to abuse Scripture to suit our purposes.

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