So, here are some of the questions I used to
1. Will they ever learn how to adhere to an outside schedule if I don't impose a rigid schedule on them while they're growing up?
Yes, they will. They will learn this: that you do what you need to do when you need to do it. Doing it sooner than you have to do it doesn't teach you to do it any more efficiently.
2. Will they ever learn how to get up early and get out the door to a class/a job, if I let them sleep in through all their school years?
Yes, they will. They will learn that it is not "years of getting up early" that teaches you how to get up early. It is "an alarm clock" that teaches you how to get up early. Whenever you have to get up early, all you need do is set an alarm clock. No training necessary.
3. Will they ever learn how to read/learn from textbooks if I use real and living books for their home education?
Yes. They will sometimes find them boring, but they will know how to read, comprehend, and use these schoolish tools. They may not like them as much as the vibrant books they grew up with, but they will be fully capable of using them.
On the other hand, they will sometimes love their textbooks. Anne-with-an-e loved her World Geography and Microbiology classes and textbooks so much that she was thrilled to be hired as a tutor in both subjects.
4. If I allow them to pursue their own interests in their formative years, will they ever learn the self-discipline necessary to succeed in college classes? Will they know how to meet deadlines and finish assignments?
Yes, because they understand basic concepts such as time management, goal setting, and doing what is necessary to achieve a desired result.
5. Will they learn how to take a test?
Yes. (See #1 ... i.e., they will do what they need to do when they need to do it.) And you will learn that, with very little formal curriculum, their ACT scores and college grades will show exactly what you always suspected: they excel precisely where you thought they'd excel, and they are weak precisely where you thought they were weak. Your suspicions (that you know your children very well) will prove to be true.
6. Will they know how to act in a classroom?
Yes. They will understand the difference between sprawling on the couch at home and sitting at a desk in school. My daughters have never confused the two locations.
7. Will they learn how to tackle unpleasant assignments?
Oh, yes. Family life is excellent preparation for general ed classes.
8. Will they resent me for hiding the truth from them -- that learning can sometimes be dull?
No. They are thankful for years of a lively education, for all those days that we ate popcorn for lunch, read Little Women and Little House, Harry Potter, and The Secret Garden together, discussed The Hunger Games at two in the morning, learned about history, science, and literature from life and marvelous books and experiments in the kitchen and discussions over dinner and museums and walks at the lake. They will look up from a history paper they are writing, and sigh, and say, "I'm so grateful to Samantha. I learned a lot about the progressive era from her."
9. Will I ruin them?
We all run that risk, whether our kids are in school, out of school, homeschooled with curriculum, or homeschooled without it.
But my guess -- if you love your kids more than your own life -- is that the answer to that question is, "No. A thousand times no."