Nick Freitas: from Green Beret to Homeschooling Dad


Welcome to another episode of It's Not That Hard to Homeschool! Today, we have a very special guest, Nick Freitas, a passionate advocate for individual liberty, a veteran, and a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Nick's insights on freedom, governance, and the challenges facing our nation are not to be missed. Join us as we explore his journey, his perspectives on current events, and his vision for the future of American politics, as well as education. Stay tuned for an enlightening and thought-provoking conversation!

Lisa: Well, hey, everybody. It is Lisa Nehring from “It's Not That Hard to Homeschool,” and I'm so delighted today to have Nick Freitas here with us. He's serving in the Virginia House of Delegates. He is a former Green Beret, husband, father, homeschooler, coffee drinker, and chicken wrangler. Nick, how are you today?

Nick: Thank you for having me. I've definitely added chicken wrangler to my official set of titles now. From Green Beret to chicken wrangler—it’s a bit of a jump, but here we are.

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Choosing Which Issues to Take a Stand On

Lisa: So, you take a stand on so many controversial issues and you're not shy about it. I mean, you're out there saying hard things every single day in Virginia as a representative of the people, as well as on social media. I really appreciate that. How do you decide what you're going to take a stand on and what you're not?

Nick: Look, obviously, my faith plays into my values and my worldview. When it comes to a lot of things on the political side, I'm a big believer that the government has a role to play, but it's supposed to be a very limited one. So, I place a high degree of value on
individual liberty and personal responsibility. I think those two things have to go together. It’s not hard to find a host of issues where the government is, in my view, intruding far beyond its rightful place.

When you value individual liberty and personal responsibility, various government intrusions are not just inconvenient; they often represent a competing worldview that I find problematic. This isn’t just about tax or regulatory policy; it's a fundamental difference in the proper role and function of government.

I'll never forget, I had a student once ask me, “Delegate Freitas, I’m really concerned about climate change, and I want to combat that. What do you think is the best way to do that?” I said, “Honestly, I would go into engineering. Figure out ways to create more
efficient solar panels, wind energy, hydro, etc. Go into fields where you can make this stuff marketable so people are willing to use it because it’s economically viable and efficient—not just surviving off government subsidies.”

She responded, “No, no, no, I want regulation.” I said, “I’m sorry, I thought you wanted to deal with green energy. I didn’t realize you wanted to punish people for noncompliance.” She looked horrified and said, “I don’t want to hurt anybody.” I said to her, the only thing that makes the government unique is its legal authority to use force and coercion to get what it wants. Sometimes that's necessary, like when someone is breaking into your home—you want the cops to show up.

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But whenever we're looking at combating other problems within society, I think it would be better if we try to find peaceful, cooperative ways to reach the conclusions we want before resorting to coercive ones.

Lisa: Exactly.

Nick: So that's what I'm passionate about. When I see the government intruding on areas of education, when I see them intruding on someone's right to life, when I see them systematically taking away the means for people to defend themselves or their property, I don't just see a policy difference. I see a fundamental difference in the way we see humanity and the way we define a free society. It's important to me that people recognize that's what's being debated. It's not just superfluous.

Lisa: Yeah, yeah. I'm in South Dakota, the land of the libertarian. So, you're literally singing my song right now. Yeah, totally with you. Why did you guys decide to homeschool your kids? Have you done it for a while?

Nick: We've gone all the way through with two of them. My oldest daughter is 21, my son is 18 and just graduated, and my youngest daughter is 16. So, we're through most of it now. Originally, it wasn't out of conviction at the time; it was mainly out of necessity. I was getting out of the military. My oldest daughter was going into first grade, and we needed to figure something out because we weren't sure if we were going to move back to our home state or come out to Virginia. So, Tina said, “Alright, I'm going to start homeschooling, and once we figure out where home is, then we'll enroll them in school.” Initially, we did that. We moved out to Virginia and homeschooled for about a year until we found the place we live now. Tina said, “Okay, we're going to enroll them in public school now.” We did that for one year and immediately pulled them all out and said,
“Nope, we're homeschooling.”

My oldest daughter was in fifth grade. I remember sitting there one night teaching her how to fight because this one girl kept threatening her. I said, “Sweetheart, you're going to have to learn how to fight.” A lot of parents might say, “I'll call the principal.” I said, “Okay, we'll do that too, but I still want you to be able to defend yourself.” So we practiced how to punch, block, and defend. I told her, “It sounds to me like the girl threatening you probably comes from a difficult home life. To the extent possible, I want you to extend grace to her. But if she lays a hand on you, you hit back.”

She said, “Daddy, I can't do that. It's against the school's policies.” I said, “Don't worry about the school's policy. Nobody will tell my daughter she's not allowed to defend herself. Nobody has that right. I will see to it.” She went to school the next day, and the girl decided she didn't want to fight. But the point was, we were dealing with all these things. My heart went out to a lot of the teachers. We had some great teachers who were really just trying to do the best they could.

But the bottom line is that government education—and that’s what it is, we call it public schools because it sounds nice, but it is a government-run organization—was set up for mass production. I wanted my children to have an education that could be far more tailored to their individual needs, wants, desires, and goals. Homeschooling afforded us the ability to not only explain our values without sending them to another institution that might contradict those values, but it also allowed us to tailor their curriculum based on what they wanted to do with their lives. So, we pulled them back out after that year and began homeschooling again.

I could write a book about all the things we would have done differently if we could. But I will tell you this much: we have a great relationship with all of our kids. We're very confident in both their intellectual and emotional capabilities, and their spiritual well-being. Not only do we get along very well with our kids, but our kids also get along very well with each other. They have a very robust friend group and are used to talking to people older, younger, and the same age as them. There is not a single class, course, or theoretical advantage that the government-run school system could offer that would ever entice me to do something different than what we did.

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Choosing Their Own Paths

Lisa: Did you train your own kids to go into politics or the military? Is that important to
you?

Nick: No, no, no. We've always been adamant about letting them choose their paths. My son is going into the military, but that's absolutely not because it was an objective of mine. My oldest daughter had considered it, but she's getting married in June. What we did with all of our kids was instill a couple of key things in them early on. During elementary and middle school, we focused a lot on general education and exposing them to different subjects and experiences. When they started high school, we shifted more towards asking, “What do you want to do, and can you support yourself doing that?”

Lisa: Yeah, the whole “follow your dreams” thing.

Nick: Exactly. We would ask, “Are these dreams going to end up with you living in a van down by the river, or are you going to be able to pay a mortgage?” We talked with all of our kids as they got older and developed interests and capabilities in certain areas. We always asked, “What's your dream? What would you really love to do?” Then, we would ask, “Does the dream feed you?” If it doesn't, that doesn't mean giving up on the dream. It just means finding something else that will provide you the ability to chase that dream. When you're young, it's a great time to take some risks because you have a lot of run way ahead of you. My oldest daughter is a perfect example. She graduated right when COVID hit. She didn’t want to go off to college because the things she was interested in didn’t require a degree and college would have just cost her a lot of money.

She loved the theater. Now, you want to talk about something where you're probably not feeding yourself—the theater, right? It's very competitive, with a very small number of slots. So, it's like, “Do you want to go to college for theater?” One of the things we
emphasized to all of our kids when they were young is, “I don't owe you a college education.” It doesn't mean I won't help, but I don't owe it to you. You have to do the work to set yourself up for success, and then I am happy to assist in appropriate areas. But this has to be yours.

My daughter decided there was no way she was going to drop $50,000 on a theater degree. She said, “I want to continue to pursue theater, but I think I'm going to go to cosmetology school. I want to go to Paul Mitchell; it's a really good one.” She knew two things: one, she could always make money doing cosmetology, either for someone else or for herself. It provides economic capability and flexibility. When she starts having kids, it's not a skill set that goes away; she can continue to utilize it, even between taking care of kids and maybe making some extra money. Plus, with makeup and everything else, it's an economically viable profession that keeps her within the realm of theater. Even if she can't get an acting job, she could potentially do something in makeup, costume, or hair. So, it made a lot of sense. She could knock out her license and everything in one year.

She worked three jobs. She pet-sat, worked the night shift at McDonald's, and saved everything. When she graduated from cosmetology school, she paid it off. She was done. She immediately got a job and started making money, doing well. The point of this long story is to illustrate that we didn't tell our children what careers to pursue. We wanted them to be capable of taking care of themselves and to honor God in whatever fashion they felt drawn to.

Both of my daughters were also very adamant about wanting to get married and have kids. They chose career paths that put them in a position to be economically viable and have capabilities, but also free them up to stay home with their children and manage the home. I'm very proud of the fact that they have thought long-term about their goals and objectives and sought out the education and training necessary to help them achieve that.

My 21-year-old daughter is about to get married. They have already bought a house. They don't live in it yet because they're not married, but they have bought a house at 21 years old. She knows how to save and budget. She knows how to do all of those things very well. Dave Ramsey would be so proud! So, that was one of the freedoms that homeschooling gave us, the ability to tailor their education toward their objectives, as opposed to what the government said was necessary for X, Y, or Z.


Lisa: I love the fact that your kids are doing crazy things at a young age, even though if you watch the news, inflation's out of control. Everybody's so worried about money, and your kids are going, “Yeah, we can still do it.” I mean, we still live in a free America, for the most part. Get a vision, make it plain, do the work, and do it well.

Entrepreneurship

Nick: Absolutely. The other thing that was great about homeschooling was the emphasis we were able to put on entrepreneurship. Not everything is about getting a degree and then getting a job. I own a business, and one of the things that we've started to look at more and more is what we look for in an employee or a contractor. Do you share our values, and can you do what we need you to do? I don't care about the piece of paper that you have. In fact, in some cases, if you have the piece of paper, I'm
concerned that you were trained to do it in a way that we don't need, or that you're better at being an activist than you are an employee.

Lisa: Wow, that's a great point. Talk a little bit about the soft skills you're looking for when you're hiring somebody. What specific skills are you looking for beyond academic knowledge or skill-based learning or training?

Nick: I will tell you, one of the things that has become increasingly important to me is obviously, if we're hiring for a video editor, you need to be able to use the technology associated with video editing, right? That's a basic thing. If you have an aptitude for it, and you're pretty good at it, then we will plug you in to do certain work and teach you the way that we want it done for what we do on our content.

Whereas if you come in with preconceived notions of how something is done that might not work for us. The three other things that are really important to us are: culture, right? Do you fit in with this group and what our mission is? If you do, you're going to have a great time. If you don't, this isn't the place for you. Let's just be honest about that, because again, we're not inviting you into what we have built so you can change it based on what your sociology professor told you. I don't care.

The other thing, too, is you've got to be teachable. Obviously, you have to be teachable. I joke around with my co-host, who's one of my best friends, and I remember telling him once, “Christian, you want to know what is one of the most valuable things about you? I mean, you're a smart guy. You're a smart guy, but you drive me nuts sometimes. You can take a chewing out and then get back to work.”

It is amazing how fragile people have become. Look, I grew up with my mom as a nurse and my dad as a homicide detective. There was a lot of direct communication. It wasn't mean, it was just direct. Then I was a Green Beret, right? There weren't a whole lot of struggle sessions where we sat around and talked about our feelings. Right. Like that did not happen, right?

And I love working with people that are passionate about what they do and work on it intensely. I don't mind getting in a two-hour session with somebody. And I don't mind them hitting back. As long as after this, no hard feelings, and we get back to the issue because we're still on the same team.

So that sort of resilience, that sort of emotional maturity, that's become super important to me.

Lisa: I love that. Angela Duckworth's work on grit and resilience is a great book. Not taking everything so personally. You've got to learn how to fail forward because if you can't fail forward, you're done. If you can't fail and get up and keep going, you're
done.

What was harder, being a Green Beret or being a dad?

Nick: Hard in different ways. Being a Green Beret never moved me to tears. Being a dad did. And I'm a man that doesn't cry. I just don't. I don't cry much. It's not because I don't think that there are appropriate times to cry. It's just I believe that one of the jobs of a man is to keep your emotions under control. You're supposed to be the rock in the storm for the people around you that you care about, that you love. And you can't do that if you're constantly breaking apart.

Lisa: Yes.

Nick: Tough. Physically very, very demanding. Going through Ranger School and Sniper School and the Special Forces Qualification Course.

And yeah, you know, combat, right? Physically demanding, also very rewarding. But being a father is different in the sense that when you're in combat, you feel a sense of responsibility for the people around you and for accomplishing the mission. And that can be very intense. But you're also dealing with other people that are trained professionals. When it's your kids, right? You're responsible in large part to raise them up in the way that they should go.

And there's a lot more at times a sense of guilt or whatnot when you feel like you've dropped the ball. Overall, being a husband and being a father is more demanding, but it's also significantly more rewarding. And I find that the things that demand the most of your attention and your expertise and development of capabilities mare also going to be the things that you look back on and say, that was more worthwhile than anything else I've done.

Lisa: I love that answer. What do you think is one of the most important things for your kids to learn? What is the big lesson you want your kids to never, ever forget?

Nick: Gosh. The relationship with God is the most important thing. As I look around at what's going on with kids today, I see a massive identity crisis. I think a large part of it is because they haven't been taught that they're not an accident. They're beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God, and they have a unique purpose that needs to be fulfilled, and they're going to be the ones to do it.

When you try to replace that with something else that is either superficial or just based on preferences or pleasure or a quest for power or success, none of its fulfilling. None of its fulfilling. There's always an emptiness left there. The reason why I wanted
my kids' faith to be their own and not just simply something that we taught them was because I know based on what's going on in the world right now, they are going to face some really trying times.

I was speaking at a homeschool graduation the other day, the strangest commencement address some of them had heard, because I said, I remember the first time I held my little girl. When you have that child, your thoughts shift to, I need to make
the world a better place for them. That's my job. That is my goal. My goal is to make this world better for them, safer for them.

Okay. And then I looked at all the students and said, I'm going to talk to you like adults. We did it. The world you're inheriting is not better than the one that we inherited. That's the truth. And it doesn't mean we didn't try, and it doesn't mean we're not still trying. It doesn't mean we won't continue to. But I'm not going to lie to you and tell you it's better now. It isn't.

But the bottom line is, if you are secure in your faith and what you believe, you have something that provides not only identity, not only purpose, not only meaning, but it provides you the peace which surpasses all understanding. And that's pretty critical because there's going to be a lot of things going on in the world right now, a lot of chaos going on where it's going to affect you.

Nick: You can't stop that, but it's not going to destroy you. In fact, you're going to be the one that's strong in the storm. And when everyone else starts to figure out that they've been lied to, they're going to stop listening to experts. They're going to stop listening to media personalities, and they're going to start listening to the people that seem to have everything right in the midst of the chaos. So as much as I would have loved for my children to grow up in a time better than the one that I inherited, I also remember that they were born for such a time as this, right?


Advocate for Truth


Nick: God was not confused about when they arrived. Being secure in that, being that secure, that identity. And I think the other thing that I would say, if I could add just one other caveat here, being secure in the knowledge that there is such a thing as objective truth, and your job is to advocate for truth. It's not to attempt to force truth to bend its will to you. Right. And to be willing to stand up for it is going to at times increasingly require courage. Being able to speak the truth in love but to do so courageously and to know that there are certain things that are worth fighting for, sacrificing for, and even dying for
is very, very important.

And that might sound like kind of a harsh lesson that you want your kids to learn. But I learned it. It's something I look back on, and whenever the times are trying, whenever there's been times where I either thought I was going to die or just difficulty within the political realm or in politics or financially or whatever it was, at no point did I ever question who I was, who I belonged to, that I had purpose.

My wife and I were both desperate that they would all have that as well. And now they do. And so what a great gift.

Lisa: Yes, I do agree with you. It seems like so much of our youth, they're just really struggling with who they are and why they are here. I don't think parents can tell them enough that you're here for a purpose. It wasn't a mistake, and for such a time as
this.

Nick: Absolutely.

Lisa: What has been the hardest part of your homeschool journey?

Nick: The hardest part is when your kids struggle with a particular topic for which you do not have the requisite knowledge or aptitude to help them with it. So you're going through this process of trying to find the right curriculum or maybe trying to find the right co-op or tutor or whatnot.

Because nobody wants to see their child struggle. And then wondering, constantly wondering, “Am I doing the best thing for them? Am I doing the right thing for them? My gosh, if they were at the public school, then they would have all these other facilities
and all these other resources and all these other things.”

Lisa: Yes.

Nick: And it's like, yes. And they would have everything else that comes with it. So that's the thing. Tina and I try to be very—we just did an episode on the top ten reasons not to homeschool. And it was tongue-in-cheek, right? Like every reason was an actual reason to homeschool.

Nick: Tina was adamant about like, “Look, I don't want anyone to believe that this is just easy and that it just solves all your problems. It requires a great deal of work. You're going to second guess yourself.” The only thing that we can say is that now that we are on the other side of that journey, we look back and yeah, there are a ton of things I would do differently. So yeah, what would say is like, look, constantly seek and strive to improve upon what you're doing. But don't doubt that there's so much advantage just in you recapturing all that time with your child that would have been lost forever. You don't get that back.I read recently that 85 or 90% of the time you spend with your kids happens before they turn 18. So that's perspective for you. Our family lives on the other side of the country. And I remember my wife's folks have been out for a while. She called up her mom one day. This is like a classic guilt trip. This is a top-level wife guilt thing, right? She goes…well, Mom, 17 more times. And her mom goes, “What are you talking about?” She goes, “Realistically, based on time frames and the amount of times that you come up here and whatnot, you're going to see us 17 more times and that will be it.” And her mom, without a plan, flew up here like a month later.


Lisa: If you could change anything about America right now, what would it be?


Nick: We are currently living in a post-Christian America. And look, I don't think it would have been fair to say that legally we were a Christian country. There's nothing that we've ever put down legally on paper that said we were a Christian nation, but culturally, we always were. And I don't mean cultural Christianity in the sense that it was just there, but I meant that there was socially a shared commitment to certain values that were rooted in that. And there was also, I think, a healthy respect for the idea of rugged individualism with a sense of community. I think that has largely been replaced with something of a hedonistic, at times almost
seeming nihilistic. And on top of that, this increasing desire for the government to essentially play the dominant role in everybody's life. I think what's important to understand about that is that the United States was founded on certain basic commitments that were rooted in Christianity. It was also rooted in a belief in individual liberty, personal responsibility, property rights, free markets. These things are essential to who we are as a country. They're not negotiable. The United States is not just a white building in Washington, DC. It's not simply Congress or the presidency or the judiciary being in a free country. It was always understood that
being in a free country was so much more than getting to vote for politicians every two, four, and six years. It really was about this idea that there were certain shared values and that among those, it was both your right and your obligation on some level to live your life, to pursue happiness, to do so in an upstanding way, and to do so without infringing on the rights of others.

And historically we've seen where that goes. So I would love to see a renewed cultural commitment to Christ. I would love to see a renewed commitment politically to the idea that government has a very, very small, important yet small role to play in our lives, not because there aren't a lot of problems that we need to address, but because we recognize that the best way to address those problems is by free people working in voluntary cooperation, not a subset of those people operating based off of coercion.


Lisa: How do you see common Americans doing that? How do you see middle-class America trying to bring about a revival, if you will, both maybe religiously, but politically? This is a loaded question for the end. But you know!


Nick: We could win it all in one or two generations. And the reason why is because we have more kids. Let's face it, when you're talking about a constitutional republic that operates off of democratic elections, numbers matter and we have more kids. The problem is that a lot of people who believe this way, that see the problems and that want to fight it, get so consumed by the political realm or so consumed with aspects of social media. And then what they do is they hand their children off to the same government that they view with such skepticism for their education and what ends up happening is we end up, you know, trying to elect better people. And look, that's important. That's necessary. Right? I'm not saying we should ignore politics, but do not do not ignore or neglect the things for which you have the most control in favor of the things for which you have next to no control. There are things that I could look back on in my life that somebody might say that were reasonably successful: being a Green Beret, being a combat veteran, getting elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, passing legislation. And I look back on those things with a certain sense of accomplishment. They pale in comparison almost to the point of insignificance. And then on the duties and responsibilities that I had as a husband and a father, and the fact that my three children understand their faith, understand their values, that they are theirs, not simply something that I have imposed upon them, that they are able to articulate them and that they are ready to go off into life believing in them in such a way as to be willing to fight and sacrifice for them. That is a far greater contribution than any bill I might have passed in the legislature. And that is within the means and the abilities
of everybody out there. So don't neglect that. Just to go volunteer for a campaign, if you can do both.

Lisa: Yeah, absolutely. Education is the transmission of culture. If you're educating your kids and transmitting the culture, you're going to affect not only the next generation but the one after that. What's a great book you would recommend to families and parents?


Nick: Gosh. Well, like the all-time bestseller is the Bible. Clearly. I think there's a lot of books out there. It depends really on what the topic is. So obviously I work in politics. I get asked a lot about political books or economics books. The Law by Frederick Bastiat
is one of the greatest, I think, that has ever been written on political philosophy. It's only about 75 pages. Absolutely incredible book. Anything by Thomas Sowell. I absolutely love Thomas Sowell. My gosh, that guy. I fanboy over Thomas. Yeah, I think Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis is great. It was an excellent book. Yeah. Gosh, there's so many, The Road to Serfdom by Hayek.


Lisa: That's a good list! Nick, it has been a delight to hear from you and we really just appreciate the good work that you and your wife are doing and your family, both in Virginia and really around the world. Social media gives us a big reach. And honestly, I laugh out loud at your chicken jokes and your coffee mugs with regularity. So, keep up the great work!

Find Nick Freitas

Instagram: www.instagram.com/nickjfreitas/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NickFreitasVA
Community Chat: https://bit.ly/43zQDLN
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NickJFreitas
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@Nickjfreitas
Podcast channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MakingTheArgument
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@nickfreitas3.0

Lisa Nehring
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