“That the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11b).

Parents who teach their children at home have a tendency to sacrifice the fruit of gentleness on the altar of homeschooling. Ever the exacting teachers, we sometimes forget our role as merciful comforters when educating our children. My foolish insensitivity to my children’s needs was revealed one day when my daughter came running into the house. Whimpering, she cried out, “Mom, an ant bit me!”

Knowing her aversion to insects and assuming she was trying to avoid her schoolwork, I ignored the tears and replied, “Oh my, it was just a little ant. It couldn’t have hurt that badly!” As unfeeling as a robot, I hugged her quickly, told her to stop crying, and sent her on her way to finish her studies.

Several days later, I reaped the humbling consequences for my apathy to my daughter’s pleas. Sitting in the sandbox near our new home, I warmed my toes in the sand and watched as my children built towering castles. Suddenly, a sharp pain in my foot made me yell, “Ouch!” I was sure I had been stung by a bee or a wasp, but when I looked down, I only saw an ant. What I didn’t know, however, was that this was no ordinary ant. Native to the area, it was a red harvester ant whose bite was as painful as any bee sting. Showing the true compassion I should have shown her, my young daughter came to me with a genuine hug and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. I’ll help you!”

Have you become so busy or dogmatic in your homeschooling routine that you fail to show compassionate love? Staying on task and accomplishing educational goals is never more important than expressing gentle, heartfelt concern to your children. Whether it’s an emotional hurt on the inside or a painful wound outside, let love’s compassion be your guide in all your actions. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).

Father, Your tender love encourages me so much each day. Please, keep my heart soft, so I can express that same love and teach the most important lesson my children can learn — compassion. In Jesus’ name, Amen.