Flea Friendships

"Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee" (Proverbs 25:17).

When we first started homeschooling, receiving support and encouragement from other homeschooling families was crucial. Without it, we might have given up in our attempts to teach our children at home. However, as time went on with our small homeschooling support group, I noticed there seemed to be one or two families who always wanted someone else to do the work of homeschooling for them. They loved their children and the idea of homeschooling, but they repeatedly left their children in someone else's care or advocated having other homeschooling families educate their children in a co-op class. Although I was happy to help, I realized later that these families were simply taking advantage of others. When the problem repeatedly robbed my family of the care and homeschooling they deserved, I said "no" more often.

The apostle Paul experienced a similar problem when he exhorted the Thessalonians. "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Paul used his own disciplined life as an example of working hard to not be a burden to others. Paul furthered his exhortation to those who look for the easy way out with a definite command in verse 12: "Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread." Although Galatians 6:2 tells us to bear one another's burdens, we must realize there is also a difference between helping and enabling. Sometimes, love must be tough enough to say "no."

What kind of homeschooling friend are you? Do you take more than you give? Maybe today you should consider running to the Lord with your insecurities and needs instead of automatically going to another homeschooling family. People do love and care about your burdens, but we all have our own homeschooling cross to bear. Homeschooling is hard work and takes an enormous amount of time, energy, and prayer. The Lord wants you to depend on Him first because in Him, you will find the true strength you need.

Jesus, help me to discipline my life, so our homeschooling will be a blessing to others instead of a burden. Teach me to bring my problems to You first and spend as much time talking to You about them as I do with others. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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Comments(21 comments)

HEATHER J 02/11/2009 09:00:29

To Whom it may concern:

I found your artical today to perhaps be insightful into the person's character who wrote it. The overall message was timely and relevant but specifically grouping the choice to use co-ops as a viable means for supplementing home school education in with taking advantage of others seemed out of place.

Perhaps the song "We are the Body" by Casting Crowns might be a gentle reminder that we all can get taken advantage of and boundaries are necessary, but above all, we love, ...and do not exclude..."Jesus paid much too high a price that we should pick and choose who should come...If we are the Body, ...why..."

I also received this verse (below) of encouragement after yours and thought that is so like our Father to help us in times of need... sometimes for the right words...His.

Respectfully submitted,

Heather Janes

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up His life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

~ 1 John 3:16, NLT

VALERI B 02/11/2011 06:18:27

Heather, I agree with you to a point. I have met peole who will take advantage if you let them. But I also agree if we are the body we should be doing all we can to help others/ I think only through discernment of the situation and prayer will we be able to make a good decision. I have struggled with Alegebra this year and last and have been unable to find anyone who can help me. We have tried 3 different programs and I am still just tryong to get my boys through. I probably should have considered taking an algebra class myself before I had my boys take it. Valeri B

SUSAN W 02/11/2011 06:39:53

Valeri, your balanced approach is good. We have homeschooled for 20 years, and have seen all sorts of "characters" in the process. Co-ops have their place, but can be overdone. A lot depends on the family situation at the time:

Do you have lots of small children and no older helpers?

Are you a beginning homeschooler?

It's great to have help in both of those situations. What used to irk me, (and others), were the "leeches" that clearly were trying to push off their responsibility on others. Some moms tried to get away with dropping their kids at the co-op, and then they went shopping. Our co-op was supposed to be for enrichment and fellowship, not a replacement for regular schooling or a babysitting service. In this regard, Heather, the author of the article was right. Co-ops can be a crutch for the selfish or undisciplined. The Body should "lay down our lives for others," but, as Valeri said, discernment & prayer should be applied to the situation. Otherwise, we are not really helping, just enabling a bad habit to continue.

Susan W.

JULIE J 02/11/2011 07:22:24

I thought it interesting that I shoul receive a devotional today entitled "Flea Friendships" on the same day I received another one entitled "Faithful Friends." Here is the other devotional I received:

Heart to Heart for February 11, 2011

Faithful Friends

A friend loveth at all times(Proverbs 17:17)

This may be one of the shortest devotions written thus far. The proverb speaks for itself. A true friend loves at all times. They may not always agree with you, but they love unconditionally and will speak the truth in love.

The opposite is to be true too. As a friend to others, we are to love them at all times. Love is not conditional on good behavior, circumstances, or time. Proverbs 18:24 says, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Take a moment to stop and pray for your friends. Ask God to bless them with divine wisdom, strength to do each task with excellence, and a hunger for a personal relationship with Him that surpasses any and everything else in their life.

In turn, ask God to make you a true friend to others, one who is good at relationships. Pray for the compassion of Jesus Christ to consume your life and that the words you speak may minister spirit and life to all who hear.

Abraham was known as a friend of God. Do our actions indicate that we are true friends of God or merely an acquaintance? Make a choice today to be His best friend. Tell Him you love Him. Talk to Him throughout the day, read His word and then listen. Faithful friends have listening ears. When we listen, we are the ones who are blessed.

Prayer – God, I pray for my friends right now and ask you to strengthen each one of them in their inner most being. Father, I look forward to spending today with You as your friend. Help me to be good at relationships in ways that would minister Your love and be pleasing to You, in Jesus name A-men.

Unless otherwise noted, the scriptures used today are from New American Standards Bible (NASB).

2011 - Sherry Chester - Radiant Publishing

RAQUEL S 02/11/2011 07:22:59

Hi, Heather,

I agree as Christians we are called to support, encourage, and serve each other in love. The New Testament overflows with this message....love one another as Christ loved you and that we will be known by our love. Proverbs talks about the wisdom of seeking advice. I think it is a wise use of resources to get help and support from wherever we need it in order to keep moving forward in the journey the Lord has laid out for each of us.

At the same time, there is a balance. As my mother would say, it's not the occasional times of faltering that determine a problem but when something becomes the overall pattern that there's a problem. The problem here is not about using co-ops but about the pattern a select few show of using co-ops and other supplemental resources to have someone else in effect be responsible for their children's education just as if they were in the school system. It's the difference between helping someone in love and enabling someone to be able to continue negative habits. Again, it's a select few and we can tell by the overall pattern of effort or lack of effort on their part whether they're struggling to find their feet and just need a helping hand or if they're just saying they want to learn but have a pattern of avoiding work and passing along their responsibilities to others. Like the parable of the 10 Virgins, there are times when giving any more of our time or resources is actually unwise, and one sign is that by doing so one's own home and family are beginning to suffer from neglect.

I use computer programs and outside programs like Bach Chorale Children's Choir to help give my girls something I can't. Co-ops sound like other wonderful resource. I have no problems sharing what little I now with others and love asking questions to help me improve. But I've also realizes that at some point I have to actually DO something with all that wonderful information or it won't do me or my family any good. :)

Homeschooling is hard. We were called to it this year in order to be able to spend more time together as a family and improve our relationships with each other. I love teaching but there are many days when I feel so inadequate, crippled by my own weaknesses, tiring out before the work is done, losing their interest, losing momentum, losing sight of the vision God set before us. At times, it has been tempting to sign my girls up for enough outside classes so that someone else would have to deal with them, but I was gently reminded again and again that we were called to spend time together as a family, not to continue scheduling so many activities that we spent most of our time running around separately rather than being home together. It is hard work and a lot of personal sacrifice but it has definitely been worth it! Our growing closeness, a sense of being a real family, shared laughter, working together, and the joys of being their main guide in learning and growing mentally and spiritually. I would not want to give that to another teacher! :) R. Scott

SUSAN W 02/11/2011 07:38:47

To R. Scott,

Keep up the good work! We have four daughters, ages 26-13, and we are all close, thanks to homeschooling. I know secular homeschoolers who cannot say that about their families, and Christian families who don't homeschool that can't say it either. To come from a Christian homeschooling family is a great blessing indeed, both for the child(ren) and the parent!

Our eldest has been married for 4 years to a wonderful Christian man that she met at a small Christian college. So, there is life after homeschooling if your children should ask! (Or if you should wonder!) :-) Susan W.

LIZ C 02/11/2011 10:56:35

Liz C.

I believe that in our homeschooling endeavors we truly need to be seeking the Lord on a daily basis and hearing from Him as to homeschooling our children. There are times when we need to reach out to others and there are times (I believe) that the Lord would want us to be quiet so that we can hear His still, small voice speaking to us. As believers, we sometimes think that we have to help everyone, we have the answers for all our friends problems, we can fix it all!! We should be praying for our fellow brothers and sisters, and ultimately steer them back to the Lord for His direction and guidance for their lives.

As you follow Jesus\'s life in the Gospels, He only did what the Father told Him to do, there were times when He retreated to pray, to be alone and hear from the Father. We need to do that as well. Yes, there will be times where the Lord will want you to minister, but there are also times where the Lord will want us to be quiet and pray. We need to love each other and be there for each other, but we need to remember that HE IS OUR STRONG TOWER, OUR REFUGE, OUR COUNSELOR and bring our struggles, our heartaches, our everyday problems to HIM. We cannot do what the LORD can do. I am a mere human, that gets tired and cranky at times. I cannot fix my own problems, so why would I attempt to fix anyone else\'s.

BRIAN J B 02/11/2011 11:35:24

I am a pastor\'s wife who also homeschools, and I think there has been sound wisdom given today in the area of balance and praying for God\'s guidance when it comes to helping others who appear to be taking advantage of the situation. I appreciate so much the people who haven\'t been able to help me when I thought I needed it. What I really needed was to turn to the Lord and get HIS help. I needed to keep in mind Gal. 6:2 and 5. We have a daily burden that we need to bear, then there is the burden that is in excess that we need to share with one another. Thankfully James 1:5 is an encouragement to us to ask God for the wisdom to know the difference. Thanks for the opportunity to respond. Lorita

SEHJI S 02/12/2011 12:19:10

To the author of the article: THANK YOU!!!!! It is not easy in modern Christian circles to address areas of sinful behavior. There is a \"rush to judgment\" that accuses the person making the observation, rather than the abusive behavior being noted.

To those who think the author was being selfish: I think that if you read the article again, you will see an overall spirit of cooperation. The author mentions the fact that the \"no\" was an answer that had grown out of response to repeated [inappropriate] sacrifice of her own family in support of others.

God is CLEAR that our FIRST priority is to our own family. We EACH and ALL have the same responsibility to try to increase our potential and abilities to be able to have more and more \"left over\" to use for sharing with others. But we must NOT give of our first fruits.

I appreciated the author addressing the \"elephant in the room\" of the homeschooling world. And the clarification of the issue was done with tact and kindness.

And the questions posed by the author are good ones to be considered by ALL of us! I tend to be a helper by nature. But out of balance, a helper can become overbearing and bossy.

Finally, one phrase bears repeating... \"People do love and care about your burdens\" If I have to say \"no\" to you, it is NOT because I don\'t like you! Please take the gift of my honesty as the incredible vote of confidence that I have in you and our friendship!

If hearing \"no\" hurts you on a personal level and makes you think I don\'t like you... then you need to consider what \"friendship\" means to you. One could say that only \"takers\" or \"bully/victims\" see \"no\" as personal rejection.

[ducking now, and scurrying to the corner! ]

TAMMI C 02/13/2011 06:03:04

To Valeri B

I see you are struggling with Algebra as my son is, too. Go to the website www.algebramethods.com and see if that can help. It helped us alot! Good Luck!

KATHY S 02/11/2012 07:51:31


I do get the point from todays devotional, \"don\'t take advantage other people\", which I do not, or at least I don\'t think I do.

And on the \"giving end\", I\'ve learned there is a balance between helping when you are able to, and when you are not able to, you sometimes have to say \"no\".

VANESSA W 02/11/2012 09:09:23

While it is true that some people no doubt take advantage of others, it would be my guess that there are a larger number that truly need help. Is it not true that if someone is \"praying\" for help that God uses us as his feet and hands to help? How do you truly know if a person is really misusing the \"system\" or if God is using you to answer a prayer? I would think it is like the beggar on the street. Many would pass him by thinking he will just misuse the money. It is not for us to read minds. Only to follow Gods lead in helping others -sincerely. Once you have done your part it is between God and that other person if they have wrong intentions.

THE LORDS F 02/11/2012 09:44:08

I am an educationist, I have taught k-9 for over 20 years now. I will continue to help to teach children, even if I am taking advantage of . I will not stop. There is no measure when it comes to love and giving. CHRIST GAVE ALL AND HE IS OUR EXAMPLE. Who knows the Parents may love it but may not be educationally inclined to do a good job or maybe plain lazy. That is why I think God has people like us who he has prepared to help the body of Christ and be a blessing to it.

Christ told us to exercise restraint and self control in all we do, However, when it comes to laboring in His vineyard to do it to excess because our labor is not in vain.

I yearn for the opportunity for Parents to abandon their children to me to teach them for free so far as I have such wonderful Christian curriculum. I consider it a huge blessing to have people to teach with a godly curriculum, I will see myself as the Pastor and the kids members of my congregation to help mold them to be like Christ. It will be my pride and Joy to raise those kids, I also know the kids will appreciate me even if the parents do not. I also l I look forward to Parents asking me to do so for them: To be taken advantage off? Yes! I will pour my life into making those kids exceptional Christians to the glory of my Master. I GREATLY LOOK FORWARD FOR SUCH AN OPPORTUNITY AND WOULD LOVE IT.

KATHY S 02/11/2012 10:50:16

Just a thought;

About the beggar on the street, I have a suggestion to help without feeling like your money may not be put to good use. If a sign is held up \"WILL WORK FOR FOOD\". Sometimes I go and drive through a Wendy\'s or whatever food place is near, get some cheeseburgers ect, and drive back to give them to the person standing on the street corner.

Some are thrilled and Thankful, others have just looked \"dissappointed\", as they weren\'t looking for food, just money.

Either way, my heart is good with God, as someone asked for food with a sign, and I fed them.

I have also handed over my own winter gloves to some of these beggars.

That brings a smile in the cold weather.

MARY D 02/11/2012 13:36:47

Some like me may have no one else to help and not feel very secure with their own ability or be having family problems and just need the extra help till they get it sorted out. I \'m going through that right now and would cherish a group that would take my daughter and help me school her. it being my first full year with a move,finacial woes, family woes,and new to homeschooling.

also no family to help its just me, my daughter and my husband. But I\'m afraid to ask because I dont feel in my group when I ask questions that their willing to help. All I hear is oh in a couple of yrs you\'ll be an old pro. and my head say\'s or have a messed up kid.

MARY D 02/11/2012 13:44:40

Thank you for Jesus and God for I know they won\'t forsake me.

with out my prayer and my 1hr to my self at 1am I would surly be lost.

TABITHA J 02/11/2012 16:38:52

I think that co-ops are good for fellowship, activities (including field trips), and for kids to take classes in subjects that their parents don\'t have much knowledge in, not to be used as a babysitting service.

KIMBERLY G 02/12/2012 12:28:41

I didn\'t feel this was speaking against co-ops at all. I thought it was more about doing so much for other peoples kids that your own family suffers. I am all about being a good friend to others. loving them etc etc giving the shirt off my back. But when My husband and family do not have dinner and I have no more shirts :) because another homeschooling family has taken up my time with me helping them or explaining quarterly reports(10 times already) or helping her find curriculum or even teaching her kids while she goes to the gym or runs errands...... Is that truly being a Godly wife and mother to my own family?

I see no problem giving a friend info and letting them research it themselves or study spelling with their own kids. I find that some friends of mine would rather me walk them through it step by step until its done and I basically did it for them. Now I send them links with directions so i am still helping them but not doing it for them... I have 5kids who need this attention from me and a husband who works long days that need my time and energy. I liked the devotion. I think its all about moderation. you cant be everything to everyone. Eventually you have to know when to say no or point them in a direction for them to do it on their own. How else will they learn to be the Godly mother and wife the Bible speaks about? You cant be that mom for them....

PAT MARQUARD 02/11/2013 14:11:26

I am part of a wonderful coop after many years of another that had folded after the core group graduated. Now my younger ones enjoy a new coop. For the first semester, I taught 2 classes. Now I teach one. We only have 4 classes a day. I am happy and the other moms are helpful and supportive, but young and I have homeschooled for 15 years. I love your articles and am constantly blessed by them. This one I did not agree with at all and seemed so negative. Why can't we include another family's child into our routine. Love is elastic. The love shown me when I started was enormous and I welcome the chance to share it. I am sorry that more do not feel that way.

Maria Daniels 02/11/2014 14:45:29

This is my first full year homeschooling I pulled my kids out of public school March of 2012. It has been an uphill battle. My older kids (9th grade, 8th grade, and 6th grade) buck me on it daily. They are angry at me for pulling them out of school. They try to say they "can't learn at home", and barely even try. It is frustrating because they were all honor students, and they have much of the extended family thinking that I am in over my head, and should send them back (which is exactly what they want).

I am struggling. I have 6 kids total, the three older kids, and a child in 3rd grade, a 4 year old with behavioral issues, and a 1 year old. I have no family close by, and do not know of any co-op nearby (we live in a very rural area).

I do not know what the right answer is. I felt like God wanted me to do this, and I did (even though I fought it for a while because I did not want to do it) finally pull them out of public school. But, I feel so discouraged. No matter how much I plan, it never works out. The older kids fight me, the baby screams and cries, and my 4 year old screams and runs amuck. I am at a loss.

Maybe some of the parents that you think are taking advantage are merely at the end of their rope, and do not know what to do?? Just a thought. I know many people do sap off of others, but I know if I had anyone to help I may need them to lean on for quite a while before I could do it on my own. I am on my own now...and barely making it.

John Martin 02/11/2015 14:49:09

I'm not going to say to much, but, as a single father and a beginner at homeschooling my son starting in november 20 11 it has been hard for at the start. I joined a local homeschool association and I communicated needing help and I never got a response. It furiated me. I paid dues or membership to get what they said they offered. I cried at night because I don't want my son to struggle because I am struggling. I definitely have received more negative reinforcement than positive reinforcements. I don't know. Does it have something to do with the fact I am not a mom?? I wonder this same thing still today. I would never put my son as his future in anyone's hands but God's but he puts people out there with the gifts and abilities to help others. I pray that those people will see it in their heart to use those gifts and abilities to help me help my son. He needs the best chance possible as anyone else.

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