- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 29, 2009

Recently, a home-schooled young woman told me, “I now really see that everything starts with the family, and the family is the place where we have to work if we want to change anything.”

We had been to a concert featuring two amazing bands, Superchick and Barlow Girls, bands that reach millions of young people with songs of hope and love. We were really moved by the way these artists used music to send a message about some of the painful issues with which many people are struggling: eating disorders, self-injury, suicide, drugs, violence, self-hate.

I was so moved — not only by the great music, but also by the genuine love shown by the band members for the audience. Not only did they sign CDs, programs or T-shirts without showing their exhaustion, they also encouraged and honored each person.

The band members strongly profess their Christian faith, and testify through their songs to the experience of divine love they received through it. More importantly, they live it in their life standard. Superchick lead singer Tricia Brock is married to another Christian musician, Nick Baumhardt, guitarist for Canadian rock band Thousand Foot Krutch. Her sister, Melissa Brock, sings and plays guitar, and the male band members (who outnumber the girls by far) are all committed Christians and visionary musicians and songwriters.

The Barlow Girls, Rebecca, Alyssa and Lauren, real-life sisters, have constantly stood up for abstinence until marriage and have encouraged countless others in their commitments. Beautiful, young and talented, they urged the audience to become leaders of integrity, whether in music or life, and to eliminate anything not of lasting and eternal value.

I was amazed to see such wisdom in such young artists. Then, we found that their managers are none other than their parents. After the concert, the Barlow Girls’ dad, Vince Barlow, noticed our group (who were wearing T-shirts proclaiming their own abstinent standard) and he spontaneously shared some important advice with them.

His message was similar to that of his daughters’: “Stay close as families. Even among friends, be a real family with each other, always. Keep each other accountable to the standard; be willing to speak truth in the moment. Never compromise. Don’t conform to the world’s standard, rather, transform the circumstances with the power of one’s courageous example.

This experience reminded me that a strong family who really lives their convictions can have a huge impact on the world. With the solid love of parents and children, divine love has a clear lens through which it can pour, touching many millions of lives.

This is the strongest reason I can think of for home-schooling. Yes, family-based education allows greater academic exploration, better time management, more creativity and all those admirable things. But most of all, it lets a family stay close to each other and to their core principles: their faith, their standards.

Building a family that is steeped in integrity and deep love for each other is not some selfish goal. Rather, it is the first step in resolving every other problem in the world. If we care about world peace, the first step is building peace in one’s home. If we care about ending poverty, we can practice good stewardship in our homes, and act on the principles of financial empowerment.

Mother Teresa once said, “Love begins by taking care of the closest ones — the ones at home.” In the family, we learn how to love everyone else. And ultimately, what brings joy and success in life isn’t the ability to surpass others, but the ability to love them.

Kate Tsubata is a freelance writer and home-schooler living in Maryland.

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