428 | A Call to Fathers (Sean Allen)

428 | A Call to Fathers (Sean Allen)

Show Notes:

Fathers, like mothers, are busy, but our kind of busy has a way of pulling us away from our family. There just is no let up in all the things they have to do, but if we're not careful we'll wake up one day and realize that all those to-dos took us away from the duty to influence the lives of our children for good. This episode is a call to be more deliberate in turning away from the demands of the present to engage in the perishable privilege of spending time with our children.

About Sean

Sean Allen is the founder of The Well Ordered Homeschool, husband to his beautiful bride Caroline and a proud father of eight. He has a bachelor of fine arts in graphic design and is passionate about creating materials to assist parents in the incredibly challenging, yet surpassingly beautiful, work of schooling and training their children at home.


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Show Transcript:

Sean Allen Hello. Welcome to the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Sean Allen and I am one of the many hosts here on the podcast. Since you're listening to this, I'm guessing you already know that homeschooling is both incredibly challenging and incredibly beautiful. Every week we're here doing a little guidance, some helpful counsel, and a whole lot of encouragement your way as you navigate this busy, yet blessed journey of educating your children at home. Now, even though the show is called Homeschool Solutions, it should come as no surprise to you that we do not have the answer to every homeschool related question. But if you come away with nothing else, our hope is that today's episode will point you to Jesus Christ and that you will seek His counsel as you train your children in the way they should go.

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Hello everyone and welcome to the podcast today and thank you for joining me. I have had the privilege of meeting some of you on the convention circuit, and that's been so wonderful to know that there are people out there who are listening. It's very encouraging and you took the time out of your busy convention schedule to stop by my booth or to catch me whenever I was heading here and there, and to say that you're listening to the podcast, that's just wonderful. I'm so happy to hear that. And thank you for reaching out. There's really no point in me doing this unless it can be helpful to you in some way. And I'm glad to hear that it is helping some of you, so thank you so much. And we're not even halfway through the convention season yet, so if I see anybody else out there — we've still got California and Texas and we've got others — if we see anybody else out there, feel free to stop by and say hello. It's always nice to meet you and talk and get to know you a little bit better and to learn about all the unique family stories that there are out there. I'm just constantly amazed. So it's really a privilege, and thank you for being so kind.

And what we've been doing here lately is we've had a little bit of a lull between the last convention and the next, and we finally got our planners in. If you don't know what I'm talking about, we are the makers of the Well Ordered Homeschool Planner. It is a huge amount of work to be able to offer those for sale. We're a very small company, and we start on that late in the year, so around, well, this year it's going to be October, November when we start and then, you know, designing it, getting it produced, getting them shipped to us and then getting them shipped to you.... It's quite a process. And so we're so happy that they finally came in and that we can get everybody their planners. We had so many people preorder and so many people emailing us like, where's my planner? Where's my planner? And that's totally understandable. It's stressful for us because we don't want to make people wait. If you've ordered a planner, it's on the way. We'll get to you. We've had hundreds of preorders to get out. So we will ship them in the order that they came in. If you don't have your planner, feel free to go to thewellorderedhomeschool.com and order yours today. We have plenty of stock as of right now, but I could see that it's quickly going, so we might have to order some more here, but we're doing the best that we can with our little company. Our daughter is amazing. She's doing such a wonderful job. She's 16 and she answers emails, and she's doing the shipping and our other daughter's pitching in, and so it's a family effort here. So anyway, that's what we've been doing.

What I wanted to talk to you about today... I wanted to talk to the fathers today, and I think I've done that before, but I wanted to do it again because this has really kind of rested heavily on me here the last few days. And I feel so bad for the producers of this podcast because I'm usually tardy with my episodes and I'm not trying to make any excuses, I have no excuses. But they are so patient and gracious with me. They have every reason not to be but I'm glad that I was this time around because I was wrestling with what I was going to bring. Not for their sakes, I'm not glad, but for mine. And then it just really hit me because I've been thinking about this a fair amount here recently. And then I heard some things and I just knew exactly what I needed to talk about. I needed to talk to the fathers. Now, I assume that I'm mostly speaking to mothers on this podcast, and that's perfectly fine. I know that there's a few fathers out there who are primarily responsible for the schooling of your children at home. But most of you are mothers and you're doing the heavy lifting of the homeschooling. And, you know, you're picking out the curriculum and you're researching and you're actually teaching the subjects, and you're going to conventions and you're going to co-ops and you're doing 100 other things. And that's amazing and remarkable and necessary work. But, you know, your husband, most of them who are probably not in the home while all that is going on, they're actually just as important to this process as you are. Now, that doesn't mean that they're the ones putting in the most work, I'm not suggesting that, but they're just as important. And so I don't know if I could talk to them directly or if you can pass this along to them, because I know probably some of them don't like listening to podcasts, and that's fine. And maybe it's just hard to catch them because they're very busy and it's a go, go, go world. So maybe you could pass some of this on to them. Maybe they can listen to a clip or two, but I just want to talk to them for a second, not for a second, for a few minutes.

And I cannot put into words how critical it is for them to commit themselves to this all important work of rearing your children at home. So first of all, if that is important to you, which I believe that it is, whether you and your wife got together and said, well, this is something that we've absolutely got to do and you're all 100% bought in, equally so. Or you're your husband is just essentially giving you permission to go ahead, he doesn't want to be involved, he just want you to do it all. Regardless, like, you don't understand, in both of those instances, I don't think it's easy for you to understand how critical it is that you are involved in this process. And I get it, you are a very busy man, you got a lot of things to do, you've got a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. There's no doubt about that. You've got to keep bringing in the funds that make this whole operation possible and that is not something that you should refuse or... A responsibility that you should not refuse. But nevertheless, that does not mean that you get a pass in just turning this whole part of your family life, of your family endeavor, over to your wife. You cannot look at it like that. It would be easy for you to do that and maybe it gets a little frustrating for you — you don't even have any interest in curriculum or, you know, the inner workings of your home school, maybe you don't. I'm not saying that you have to have the same level of interest as what your wife does, but you definitely need the same level of interest in its success. And so even if you are so knocked down busy that all you can offer is a prayer in the morning, then please at least do that, but I'm expecting that you could probably do more than that. And I know what you're wrestling with because I'm a man and I'm a father, too and I would venture to guess that I'm just as busy as you are, or close to it. We're all busy. This isn't a competition. I'm not suggesting that one is busier than the other, but let's just get that out of the way. We're busy. We're busy people and that requires a lot of you. There's just no doubt about it. And you're wrestling with the same thing that I'm wrestling with — It is, "Time is short now versus time is short in the long term." And time is short now is usually the one that wins out in the battle of those two scenarios. What do I mean by that — time is short now? Well, that's what we're up against every minute of every day. We feel that on our back. Like, I've got this to do and after I do this, I've got this other thing to do. And after I do that, I've got the other thing, and there's 100 other things lined up behind that. And you knock one thing out, one after another, and you feel as if you're making progress, or maybe you don't feel like you're making progress, I can't speak for you. And I've had times in my life where I feel like that, too. That happens quite often, actually, more often than I care to admit. But nevertheless, we keep chipping away at this, don't we? And we feel as if there's this pile of to dos, this pile of to dos that must be done now. And we're working on it, and we're propelled forward by this sense that eventually, there's going to be a point in time in which we get to the bottom of the pile. When we get to the bottom of the pile, that's the moment that we're going to turn around, we're going to throw our arms out, we're going to have a big happy smile on her face, and we're going to face our family and say, "All right, what can I do for you? Here I am. We can play, we can work on the house, we can... Whatever you want. Here I am." But up until that time, we’re burdened down by a steady stream of "nows" and also "shoulds". I should do this and I should do that.

And now and should are tyrannical. And if we allow them to, they will absolutely run us like slaves. And you might be a slave to now. You might be a slave to should. And you're just constantly running around chasing all of these things. And now and should just keep dropping these to dos in front of your feet, and you are just gobbling them up one after another like you're Pac-Man, and they just keep popping up. Everyone that you gobble up, there's another one that shows up and another one and another one. And I don't know about you, I've also had this sense of, you know, eventually it's going to end. I'm going to get to the bottom of this, and I'm going to get it all under control. And when that happens, I'm going to be fully engaged, fully committed, and I'm going to turn myself to my family and say, "Here I am." And again, I don't know about you, but I've never gotten to that point. I know some men, it seems as if they've got to that point, I think. But they're all retired and their children have left their home. And here's the terrifying thing that I want to lay on you, is that there's also a now in the long term. Time is short in the long term. What I mean by that is, is that the period in your life in which you will feel most burdened by this incessant stream of nows is the time in your life when your children are still under your roof. And if you allow it to, you will miss the opportunity to be an influence for good, to the degree that you should be an influence for good in their lives. You're going to miss that. Now, that's not to say that you're not going to be an influencer for good to any degree. I'm not saying that. I'm saying to the degree that you should be. And I know I'm being a little forceful here, but I'm saying this because I'm talking to me and I'm talking to you. It's very important that you hear this. So time is short now versus time is short in the long term. Time is short now almost always wins, but the long term is made up of nows. And if you're constantly making the wrong decisions in that stream of nows that is pulling you away from your family, you're going to live to regret that.

And there will come a day when you wake up and you will realize that you have been played like a slave to the tyranny of now, and you cannot allow that to happen. In what way are you going to realize this? It's becoming clear to me that there's a number of ways that this can play out, and I think that every father, if he's honest with himself, is going to have to grapple with this to some degree or another. Okay? So there are some fathers who are going to be wracked with guilt and who are going to cry themselves to sleep at night as they think back over the history of how they engaged or disengaged, was involved or not involved, in the upbringing of their children. And then there are other fathers who are going to get... How should I put this? They're going to get a preview of the regret that they will feel once their children leave. How do they get the preview? They get the preview by recognizing that their children are not fully yielded to the God of heaven, or that they're heading down an errant path. And they're going to look at that and they're going to think to themselves, what role — or they're going to ask themselves or they should ask themselves — what role did I play in allowing or encouraging or furthering this development in my child's life? The fact that they're not fully yielded, or the fact that they're, you know, they've got some character deficiency. And I feel as if it's too late. I feel as if there's nothing I can do now. Previously, I was as able to yell and scream and spank and threaten and all these kinds of things, and I usually got my way. But now they're older and they don't listen to that anymore. And I'm not getting through to them. And you look back and there's now, with the most detestable Cheshire cat grin on its face, looking at you and reminding you of how you lived your life for the past eight, nine, ten, 12, 13 years, whatever it is. And that's the moment that you know. That's the moment that you realize that none of that was worth it. None of it. I don't care how many nows you tended to during that period of time. You could add them all up and it does not come close to equaling the worth that is wrapped up in your children. It's not even close. So you and I, we can learn that now or we can learn it later. Learning it now is painful. It is not a fraction as painful as what it will be if you learn it too late, when you feel as if it's too late. And that's not to say that God isn't merciful, that's not to say that he still cannot work in those broken down situations and scenarios. He can. He's done it many, many times. But that doesn't leave us with an excuse. Does it?

Listen, here's the thing about your children. I'm growing more and more aware of this as well. It took me a long time to learn this. I think I'm still learning it. It's a great mystery to me, but I think it's true. If your children want anybody to love them, they want you to love them. I'm going to say it again. If your children want anybody to love them, they want you to love them. You cannot underestimate your influence on the life of your child or how much your approval means to them. Now, I'm not suggesting to you that you just start willy nilly throwing out approval, knowing how valuable a commodity that is in the life of your child. You just don't do that. You should not fake this. You can fake it, but you should not. What I'm saying is, is that your children come hard wired this way. It's inescapable. It's in their bloodstream. They want to please you. Now you might hear that and laugh like, you don't know my children. It's like, well, how old are your children, I would have to ask you. Are we talking about teenagers? Are we talking about ten year olds? You can't say that about your three, four, five year old, your six year old. You can't. Okay now, you might have begun to see things in their character or in their personality that would lead you to believe that they don't care about pleasing you, but I'm here to tell you that they do. And we can mess this up. We can be so absent chasing the steady stream of nows and shoulds, that it appears as if our children no longer care about pleasing us, or they don't care about our approval, but I'm here to tell you that they do. They came from you. There is a mysterious, peculiar, unlike any other relationship that you share with him. That should go without saying, but it deserves exploration. And if they want anybody to love them, they want you to love them and they're going to spend their whole life either trying to please you or wrestling with whether or not they should be trying to please you. Because I've known people who to your face will say things like they don't care about what their father thinks or what their father does or anything like that, but you can see the hurt and the pain, and what they really want is for the father to scoop them up and give him a hug and plant a kiss on their forehead and tell him how proud they are of them. That's what they really want.

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I recently heard a few men who... I wouldn't consider them Christian. Maybe one of them is but it doesn't really matter. The point is, is that this is universal. I heard these two men talk about the lives that they led and the mistakes that they made. Led some very rough lives, very challenging lives. Saw things, did things, experienced things that, you know, they wish that they wouldn't have saw, did and experienced. It's one of those things, if I had it to do all over again, I wouldn't have done those things. When they were young, this is what they would tell you, they were of the mind of, you know, I don't care what my father thinks. One of them was that way and the other one was not. One of them had a... His father was a doctor, and he's a very devoted doctor — a very good doctor, very devoted to his patients, to his craft. And they grew up at a time when... And this also deserves some more exploration, I haven't totally figured this out, but it seems like in talking to people from that era, that we're talking about in the, you know, 50s and 60s... 40s, 50, 60s. Parents from that era were very business-like. Very burdened down in a different way than I think that what we are today. Very burdened down, very busy, very hardworking, very industrious, very diligent, but nevertheless very business-like when it came to raising their children. There were just certain things that you were expected to do. This is what you do. This is what we do. So I expect you to do it. And we're not going to talk about it, we're not going to reason about it. I'm only going to tell you once, you know. Here we go, off to church. Oh, you don't want to go to church? Well, how about I grab you by the hair and pull you into this car? Kind of a thing. And now we're off to church there. There's no again, no negotiating. And, it sounded to me like this young man was raised that way, too, with his father. His father was, you know, the kind of man who would never not go to work. The kind of man who's going to work from sunup to sundown. He's always going to be there for his patients, he's always going to provide. He's never going to fail his family in this regard.

But when it came to his relationship with his children, it just really wasn't there. And the only way that his son was able to interact with his father was to go on house calls with him. And the son just loved doing that, or it seemed apparent to me, because that was the time that he got to spend with his dad. He said one night, he's nine years old. He waited up for his father late because he hadn't seen him. Waited up, supposed to be in bed, but instead waited up to see his father come home. Father comes home. First thing he says when he comes to the door, he says, "Why aren't you in bed?" Now, I don't know about you folks, but that's not... I see my nine year old boy there, I haven't seen him all day, you know, that's not what I would be saying, I don't think so, at least. I want to be happy to see him. I'm going to scoop him up in my arms. I'm going to tell him how much I missed him, how much I love him. I want to try to hear about his day. Am I going to be burdened down? Am I going to have the weight of the day still on my back? Yeah, probably. Almost certainly. But God forbid if I don't say something to my son. But anyway, this father said, "Why aren't you in bed?" He goes, "Because I was waiting up for you, dad." "You're supposed to be in bed." He says, "Yeah, I know, dad, but I... I just haven't seen you. I wanted to see you. Where were you? Why don't you come home?" Says, "I was with patients." And he said, "Well, why would you be with patients? You're the best doctor there is, dad." That's what he believed about his dad. Sounded to me like it was possibly true. "Because you're the best doctor around, dad. Why would you need to be with patients this late? Can't you help them... I mean, aren't you helping them to get better? Aren't they getting better?" And he said his dad was a very truthful man. He said his response was, "This one's not getting better. They're going to die." He said that's all he said and he went to the other room.

Now, that's just a little glimpse into, you know, the nature of the relationship that existed between this father and son. This boy said that he eventually, he was so hungry for the love of his father, for the approval of his father, that eventually, as he grew older, he began to act out. He said he didn't learn this until many years later. It dawned on him when he was much, much older. He said they lived on top of the hill. They had money. They live in a house, and they lived among people that had money. At the bottom of the hill where he lived, where the people who didn't have quite as much, not quite as fortunate, and that's where all the riff raff were. That's where all the gangs and the troublemakers and those sorts of people were. And he said he went down there to spend time with those boys. And eventually, that's about all he did. Got into all kinds of trouble, roving about with gangs, fighting people all the time. Just not leading a good life. Strain from, you know, the expectations of his parents. He said it didn't dawn on him until much, much later what he was doing. And this is profound, folks. This is coming from a man who, I think he's trying to be a Christian, but that's neither here nor there. He realized this, and it's an absolute truism, he says, "You know what I realized, what I was doing." He said, "My father was devoted, almost to a fault, to people who were sick. He was always there for them. Got up early in the morning, went to go tend to him. Stayed late at night tending to people who were sick, who were ill, who were hurting, who were wounded. So I went down to the bottom of the hill so that I could make myself sick and hurting and wounded so that my father would take notice of me." That just about broke me up, folks, when I heard that.

About just a day or two later, I heard another story from another man. This man led a life of crime, ended up in prison for like 13, 14 years. Embezzled all kinds of money, just horrible. All kinds of stuff. Stole, he was a thief. Hurt a lot of people. Hurt his parents in particular. He said he didn't remember his father ever telling him one time that he was proud of him, but he said he got into this racketeering thing or whatever it was that he was involved in, I didn't even understand it. He was pretty ingenious with how he ran this thing, how he was able to embezzle all this money. But nevertheless, he said it first started out, I mean, at face value, it was a respectable enterprise. And he said for the longest time, his father told him that he wasn't going to amount to anything. But he said once he started making this money, which he was making it in a dishonest way, but his father picked up on the fact that he had money. He said, "I could tell that my father's attitude towards me changed, and I made him proud. And he got caught, and he was put on parole. He gets out on parole, and he goes right back to it. And he said part of it was because I was so proud of how smart I was and how clever I was. The other part was, is I didn't want to go back to not making any money, to not being successful because my father was proud of me, for the first time in my life, and I wanted to make him proud." Do you see that? How important your influence is in the life of your child? It is so unavoidably powerful, for good or for ill. If you're there, if you're present, if you turn your back willingly on the pile of nows that are constantly demanding your attention... See, because there is no bottom, least as far as I could tell. You're not going to get to the bottom. I haven't got to the bottom. I'm assuming that you won't either. It's never going to stop. So you've got a steady stream of nows and long term consists of nows. Eventually you're going to have to turn around and face your family. But at the end of the long term, you're going to turn around and face them in despair. You're going to be forced to turn around and it's going to be neck-snapingly quick. And to gaze upon what could possibly be ruins or shambles or even just a fraction of the image of what could have been.

Or you can choose to turn now. They're going to be there tomorrow and they're going to be there the next day. You and I have to learn how to manage these things better than what we're managing them. Turn our back on the pile of nows, the bottomless pit of nows, turn instead to our family, open our arms wide, put a smile on our face and say, "In spite of all of the things that we have to do, what can I do for you today? Let's go on a bike ride. Let's play a board game. Let's go for a walk. Let's go out to eat. Let's just sit down and talk. Let's jump on the trampoline. Whatever. Whatever it is. Let's read a book." You know, you'll find something to do. You know how? Just ask them. What would you like to do? They'll tell you. You know how many times... You don't want to get good at this, by the way. You do not want to become calloused to this. How many times my children have come up to me and they're tugging on me, they're pulling on my arm, pulling on my my pant leg, "Dad! Dad! Dad! Come on. Come on. Dad, please. Come on out here and play. Come on. Jump on the trampoline. Dad! Come on. Please? Help us build this Lego set. Dad! Oh, come on, dad." "I'm sorry, I will, I will, but I've got to get this done," is what I tell them. And when I shake myself awake, I stop and I think back over the past, you know, however many days, however many weeks, however many years even, and I rehearse the number of times that I've actually said that, I realize that this thing or these things, plural, that I have to get done, they never end. Now there are sometimes, folks, listen, I'm not saying you got to say yes every time. You can't. But I'm going to venture to guess that you and I need to say yes more than what we do. Because we don't want to live the rest of our lives with regret. And regret is a hard taskmaster. Some people don't survive that. That's not something that you want to be cooped up into solitary confinement with — regret. And your children won't be there anymore to console you. It's just you and regret — what could have been, what should have been, with you and your children. Time is short now, but time is short in the long term too. What I mean by that is you've got like what, 18 years, 16 years, maybe 20 years at most? We just graduated our first son from college. I don't know where that time went. It sounds cliche, you heard it all the time.

When we had him, we had people coming up to us all the time, older people, "You know what? It's just going to fly by." You just smile, nod your head out of, "Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure it is. I'm sure it is." I had no idea what they were talking about. I mean, I didn't disbelieve them, I just had no idea. Now I know. It's absolutely true. You know, I looked at him the day that he graduated. It was wonderful day. We had a had family together, the weather was beautiful, he was so happy, we're so proud of him. You know, I do this now. I do this all the time with my children. With most of them, I think with all of them, I have like a particular memory, a particular like, point in time in their infancy that's like lodged in my memory. And I look at them, when they're 20 and look at them when they're 16. I look at them when they're eight. I look in their face. And I see them when they were a baby. And I saw my son on the day that he graduated, and I can see him in my arms when he was just born. And I held him in the little room that we made for him, with the little crib and the little rocking chair for Caroline, I sat in his chair and I held him and I didn't know what to do. All I knew to do was to pray for him and for his future. I looked on him when he was 20 and I could see that like it was yesterday. Because in one sense it is.

All of us are going to experience regrets. Our job is to ensure that there are as few regrets as possible because that doesn't let up. It will not let up. Do I have regrets? Absolutely. But I'm working to minimize those regrets. And I'm learning every day and God is gracious. He's gracious to us. We're learning right alongside our children. There was a day in which when we had our first born, I knew a lot more about parenting then than I know now, let me put it to you that way. But that's okay. Hear your children's voice in your mind, in your heart, "I just want to please my father. I just want to please my father." And they do. Can you convince yourself that they don't? Yes. Can they convince themselves that they don't? Yes, but it's a lie. If they want anyone to love them, they want you to love them. They thrive on that. That is life to them. Just in the same way that's life to us with regard to our Heavenly Father. We want to please him. We want to go back to him. And your children want to in one sense, they want to come back to you. They want you to know that you're proud of them. Don't fake this. If for whatever reason, you're not proud of them, work with them to get them to the place where you can be proud of them. You care about your children, I know you do. It's absolutely true. They're the most precious thing in your life. There's nothing more precious than that. So we could do a better job of acting like they are. I think it's probably true. Now, if I'm talking to you and none of this is grabbing you, then you must be okay. You must be doing a very good job, and I commend you for that. But if any of this is tugging on you, I would just encourage you, just go for it. This is your legacy. This is your progeny. These are the ones that go after you, that go beyond you, go to places that you can't go, touch people who you can't touch, do things that you can't do and that's okay. You did things that your father couldn't do, and on and on it goes. Do not underestimate your influence or how much your approval means. Start today. Work on this like tomorrow depends on it because it does.

Yeah, they're going to leave at some point but you got to live with yourself. You're not going anywhere. You're going to be around for as long as you're around, so live with those regrets as much as possible. I hope that you don't feel I was too hard on you. You know, honestly, I feel like I'm standing right in front of myself right now just talking, because this is important. And I want to say to you that I appreciate so much what you are doing in your home. And I think we all struggle with this, just how important the work is that we're doing. It's important in God's eyes, he believes in it, and so we should too. So thank you for allowing me to just take a few minutes out of your day so that you could hear this. I hope that it was encouraging or inspiring to you in some way. I know it was to me, I feel inspired. Actually, I need to get off this microphone and go and see my family. That's what I'm going to do. So God bless you all and have a good day, have a good night, whatever point in the day that you're listening to this, and I hope to talk to you again very soon. Bye for now.

Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. You can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at Homeschooling.mom. Don't forget to check out my friends at Medi-Share because you deserve health care you can trust. To learn more about Medi-Share and why over 400,000 Christians have made the switch, go to GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. That's GreatHomeschoolConventions.com/Medi-Share. If you haven't already, please subscribe to the podcast. And while you're there, leave us a review. Tell us what you love about the show. This will help other homeschooling parents like you get connected to our community. And finally, tag us on Instagram @homeschooling.mom to let us know what you thought of today's episode. Have you joined us at one of the Great Homeschool Conventions? The Great Homeschool Conventions are the Homeschooling events of the year offering outstanding speakers, hundreds of workshops covering today's top parenting and homeschooling topic, and the largest homeschool curriculum exhibit halls in the US. Find out more at GreatHomeschoolConventions.com. I'll be there. I hope to see you there too.

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