Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why I Homeschool: Reason #37

Every time I turn around, I'm reading a blog post by a mother whose child's behavioral/emotional problems (often severe) were completely eradicated by keeping them home.  Every other time I turn around, I'm hearing from someone I know how their child was literally saved by homeschooling . . . how at school they either had already completed or were in the process of becoming someone completely different from who they were (drastic personality changes for the worse, social influences taking them on paths 180-degrees from their parents' guidance, etc), and once they stopped the school attendance, their beloved child reemerged.

Just talking to DawnEtta, an old and solid friend from another town, during a chance meeting at the store, I learned that her junior-high-aged daughter will not be attending high school in their small town.  And that her elementary-aged daughter would not even be attending junior high, as she has watched that very thing happen with other children.

The answer to family problems is not distance.  It is proximity.  Increased time together.  Firm limits.  Plenty of time to talk and connect.  And the elimination of the influences which were destroying your child.  DawnEtta is taking preemptive action to ensure her daughters' emotional and psychological safety--and I applaud her for it.

Parents, if your child is struggling at school (or struggling, period), don't think for a second that the limited time in the evenings and weekends will be sufficient to rescue them.  While in college, I ran across a quote that I'll never forget:

"If you spend 15 minutes a day with God, and 16 hours on stuff, is it any wonder that stuff is more real than God?"

We each determine our own reality by where we choose to focus our time.  This is as true for children as it is for adults . . . but vitally more influential as they are still making life-determining choices in their development which determine their world view.  Those choices can be reset, but it takes a lot of time and a lot of work.  More time than we have in the evenings and weekends.  The pull of peers is frighteningly strong . . . and it's positively horrifying if our children have chosen peers that actively pull them away from the ideals and standards we have worked so hard to instill.

When children spend eight-plus hours each day in company with their peers, and a total of two or three actually in our presence*, is it any wonder that the world their peers present is more real than ours?

*Even though children may spend nearly the same number of hours away from school as at school, those hours are eaten up by personal pursuits, extra-curricular activities, TV/video/computer/screen time, showering, texting/talking on the phone with friends, etc.  If lucky, families of school-attending children get two hours of good "face time" together each day between meals and conscious and careful use of evenings.

Once a child has chosen peers who pull counter to their family's healthy culture, even moving them to a new school (or moving the family to a new city) doesn't usually do the trick . . . for the child will seek out similar peers in their new environment.

Parents, please, invest in your children.  If you see your child struggling, don't leave them in the maw of the social dynamic at school, where they are either being showered with (or choosing to drink from) an emotional cesspool.  Bring them home.  Love them.  Keep them close . . . even if it takes months for them to stop being resentful for taking away all of the things which they had chosen to define themselves.  It is the job of a parent to guide their children, providing clearly defined and rock-hard limits, so each child can learn and grow towards a happy and healthy adulthood.

Sometimes our children want what's not only not good, but actively damaging for them.  We don't let them drink anti-freeze, so why should we allow them to continue (or, heaven forbid, facilitate!) their destructive behavior?

(Please note: this is written from my perspective: that of a devout Christian mother.  Whatever your beliefs, studies have shown that children taught strong ethics and given a well-defined framework (whether religious or not) from which to understand the world tend to grow into much stronger, more confident adults.  I welcome questions and opposing views, so long as they are structured respectfully and constructively.  Calling me bigoted and narrow-minded might make you feel better, but it does nothing to help me understand what your issue might be, or how we could continue the dialogue in such a way as to come to a better understanding.  Thank you.)