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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Homeschooling will not make your family happy

Homeschooling will not make your family happy. Having a happy family will make your family happy.

I realize this is a simplistic statement, but it must be said, especially in light of all of the negative media surrounding homeschooling these days. There are some young adults out there with an axe to grind where homeschooling is concerned.  Many of them have every right to be disgruntled because their parents... and therefor their homeschool experience sucked.

So, I was reading a post today about "the homeschool myth", where the writer says that they blame homeschooling for their less than stellar upbringing because "homeschooling made that $hit (the bad stuff that happened) seem natural. That because they did not have access to people outside the home... ever... that they didn't know that this kind of abuse was not normal. Furthermore, her abuse was intensified because her mother was egged on by other homeschoolers who counseled her on making her child less rebellious.  (Boy do I understand that... some of my mom's friends made my life a living hell!  I couldn't get away with anything!)

sketch a day #24 -20 min. 
I am not writing to discredit the story of this young woman and others who have a problem with homeschooling, conservative homeschooling, and last, but not least, the quiverfull movement.  I am writing this so that any family out there hoping to homeschooling will understand homeschooling is a tough job, and while it is also rewarding, anyone who expects perfection from themselves or their children might as well go ahead and pack it up now.

You can expect a dirty house.  My youngest is well into her third semester of college and I am just now beginning to reclaim my house and to make it is as nice as I'd always hoped. I am just beginning, and I have a way to go. Think about it. The kids are home ALL THE TIME. Think summer, and multiply that by pi. That is your house. At one point, I hired a house keeper.  At another point, I paid the kids to clean.  I went on strike a couple of times. Finally, I threw my hands up and decided to wait them out. They had to leave eventually. You have to be OK with a TeePee in the living room, and unfolded laundry when you are homeschooling. There are many times when I was tempted to snatch a book from my kids hand and send them to clean, but how absurd is it to snatch a book?  And so, I learned to find a happy place in the mess and move on.

Expect to have arguments. You will argue with your kids. They will argue back. You will argue with your spouse. They will argue with each other. This is healthy. If only one person in the family is allowed to pitch a fit and leave everyone else cowering, there is a problem. Children need to be able to express anger and upset (without calling names of course), and adults need to. At the end of the discussions, everyone can have ice-cream... but if you are going to be the type of family that is together all the time, you have to give everyone an outlet to express themselves. That is only good and fair.

Expect to see your worse behaviors mirrored in your children. If you are angry all the time, your children will be angry. If you yell, they will yell.  If you curse, they will curse... ahem. No comment.  I will tell you that the best thing I ever did for myself was to homeschool. After telling off a few people in front of my children (I have been known to give a piece of my mind), I realized how it affected them, and learned to be more diplomatic.  I will also tell you that my kids saw me depressed for over a year after my brother died. My kids saw me try things and give up. My kids saw me angry and resentful. Fortunately, my kids were allowed to tell me about myself, and them bring me ice cream. So, if you are a raving lunatic, expect your kids to be raving lunatics too... or withdrawn and damaged.

Expect to be ridiculed and rejected.  You probably already expect for your family and friends to decide you are wacko and for some of them to even turn their backs on you... for a while at least. You should also expect some homeschoolers to do the same. Here is why. When you do something different or out of the norm, people take that as judgement upon them, that by doing things differently you are saying they are doing it wrong. So choose a different math program than your homeschool mentor, send your daughter to college when other homeschoolers around you won't, put academics before values (as other people see it) and people won't like it. They will tell you so, or they will freeze you out.  But here's the good news. If people object to the way you do things, you just might be doing them right.

Expect for there to be failures. Sometimes a homeschooling kid turns out just like the kid next door who went to the worst public school in the county. You will look up one day and they will be snippy, withdrawn, and may even get into trouble you can't get them out of.  You won't even see it coming. Sometimes it just happens.  You are going to have to love them anyway.  Things will come together. Remember even fairytales start out scary.

If I haven't scared you away from homeschooling yet, I will now add that it can be magical, and wonderful, and your kids can turn out great, but you will have to work at it. Keeping your kids at home and having 2 or 10 kids will not make your household perfect and magical in any way. But, being the kind of parent that kids want to be around... that guides, cajoles, hugs, and supports, will make your homeschooling family happy, and if you can do that, they won't be writing an angry blog about you in ten years.

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