“But What About Socialization?”

This is probably the most common question homeschoolers get. As a child, I was well schooled in how to reply to it. “Do you have any idea how many friends I have?” “Segregating children by age group is not a natural form of socialization.” “Socialization is just a code word for peer pressure.”

Today, I read blogs and articles by homeschoolers using these same arguments and insisting that socialization is no problem at all, and I want to scream. More than that, I want to bang my head against the wall.

You see, socialization matters. It is not a bogeyman or a silly question. It is important. And, it is an issue about which I am very passionate.

I arrived at college after being homeschooled through high school. I had had plenty of friends across a variety of age groups. I had been in homeschool co-ops and clubs, including a speech club. I had gone to political events and had spoken with reporters. I was articulate, well spoken, and outgoing. I thought I was socialized. I wasn’t.

The truth is, my first year of college was extremely painful. I had no idea how to interact with people who were different from me. I had no idea how to take criticism. I had no idea how to interact with those around me. I had no idea how to handle myself around large groups of people, or how to act in the ordinary social situations that come up at a large school. I had no idea how to handle someone not liking me. I had no idea how to function in a diverse society. I was incredibly awkward and felt extremely lost, and I cried more than you want to know.

You see, socialization is not about being able to carry on a sentence. Socialization isn’t about being able to make a friend. Socialization is about interacting with people who are different from you. It’s about learning how to deal with the bully or the “mean girl.” It’s about learning how to handle having people not like you. It’s about feeling put down by cliques, but learning to deal with it and surviving. It’s about growing a tough skin. It’s about handling playground politics. It’s about being friends with people who disagree with you. 

There is a second issue here too. Homeschooling made me into a cultural misfit. The things the girls I met in college talked about, I didn’t understand. The things they were excited about, I was ignorant of. I experienced – and still experience – a huge cultural disconnection. I’m not saying I wanted to conform or just be a clone of the girls I met in college, but I would have at least liked to understand what made them tick and to have been able to communicate with them on this level. As it was, I couldn’t. I didn’t understand their culture, I had no common experiences with them, I had no basis for communication or identification. I was an outsider looking in.

Wikipedia defines socialization as follows:

Socialization is a term used by sociologists, social psychologists, anthropologists, political scientists and educationalists to refer to the process of inheriting and disseminating norms, customs and ideologies. It may provide the individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within their own society; a society develops a culture through a plurality of shared norms, customs, values, traditions, social roles, symbols and languages. Socialization is thus ‘the means by which social and cultural continuity are attained’.

You see, socialization has nothing to do with whether you can make friends or hold a conversation. Socialization is about cultural understanding and cultural knowledge. It’s about having shared experiences and a shared system of symbols and languages. It’s about having things in common with those around you. It’s about a common culture. This is why public schools play such an important role in the socialization of our nation’s young. Public schools pass on our common traditions and disseminate our common culture.

In my experience, homeschoolers who laugh at the socialization question don’t have any idea what socialization actually is. They don’t understand the question, and they therefore bungle their answer. And every time I read another homeschool blog or website laughing off the socialization question, I want to bang my head against a wall.

Now, there are some who would say that, as such, socialization is a bad thing. They would argue that socialization is designed to turn children into robots. The problem with this argument is that socialization is not so much about conformity as about shared meaning and common knowledge. A person doesn’t have to accept every cultural value or live the way culture expects in order to be socialized. Instead, a well socialized individual simply needs to understand these things. Having a common culture and common experiences and traditions doesn’t erase our differences, it holds us together as a nation despite our differences.

Similarly, there are those who would argue that segregating children by age is not a good way to socialize. These individuals generally point out that public schools are a recent phenomenon and that children used to be socialized in their families and home communities. But this misses the point. Public schools may be a recent phenomenon, but they are still our reality. I understand that many people wish they could return to the past in some aspect or another, but the reality is that we have to live in and work within the present. Proclaiming that children used to be socialized differently is not going to change the fact that this is how children are socialized today. Wishing for the past does not erase the present.

Interestingly, the people I met in college were not the mindless conformers I had been taught to expect coming out of public schools, not in the least. Rather, they were intelligent, confident, and independent. The made a lie of my parents’ claims that public schools are factories that turn children into robots. It’s simply not true. Public schools don’t rob children of their individuality or dumb them down. Socialization isn’t about enforced conformity or pushing children into molds or turning out robots. Indeed, the friends I made in college, every one of them public schooled, were – and continue to be – inspirations to me. They knew how to handle themselves and they understood how to interact with those around them. The were confident and comfortable, and I envied them.

I sometimes wonder if one reason so many homeschool parents cannot seem to understand the real meaning of the socialization question is that, having been socialized themselves, they cannot imagine what it would be like to not be. They don’t understand what it feels like to be a foreigner in your own country. They don’t understand what it feels like to not be able to fit in. They don’t understand what it’s like to be robbed of the ability to be normal because they have the ability to be normal. Parents who homeschool may choose to be different, but their children have no such choice.

Those who are homeschooling for other reasons other than “sheltering” their children don’t get a free pass here. While their children will likely have an easier time adjusting than I did, they will still almost certainly face many of the same problems. The socialization issue is not specific to homeschoolers who shelter their children, but is, rather, common to all homeschoolers. These other homeschoolers, like their more sheltered counterparts, will also not have to learn to handle playground politics and will certainly not have the common experiences of pep rallies or bad social studies teachers. There is some element of dealing with other people that they will miss and a piece of our common culture they will not experience. And while homeschool parents may not see these things as important, their children, like me, may disagree.

Am I arguing that no one should ever homeschool? Not necessarily. I don’t know every situation, and every family is different. I would not presume to speak for every family. What I am arguing is that parents who homeschool need to take the socialization question seriously rather than laughing it off. They need to be aware of the potential socialization problems their children may face and take steps to mitigate them. Most of all, homeschool parents need to understand what socialization is and why it is important, and they need to be fully aware of what they are doing when they remove their children from the public schools.

Socialization is actually the #1 reason I will be putting my daughter in public school when she turns five. Honest.

Note: If you are a homeschooler and you dislike what you have read here, please don’t get all defensive. I am not trying to judge, simply to share my experiences. I was homeschooled. I have been there. I was not isolated or kept in a closet, I had plenty of friends and was involved in plenty of co-ops, but I was nevertheless not socialized, and I regret that. The fact is, socialization does matter. Rather than getting upset and defensive, please just take my perspective and opinion for what it is.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    A bullied child who is removed from the school will be better equipped to handle bullies as an adult than one who isn't removed because they have received the message that their parents care enough about them to keep them safe, and because they have not continued to experience abuse. A child who is kept in an unsafe environment learns to be insecure and fearful; a child who is removed learns that safety is possible. Removing the child from the abusive environment also prevents further emotional damage. The less abuse-related psychological damage a child has and the greater their sense of security and safety, the more able they will be to combat bullies as adults.I would guess that a kid who has never set foot in a public school but has healthy self-esteem and decent people skills is probably still better equipped to handle workplace bullying than a child who was left in an abusive school situation for a long period of time and has the resultant psychological damage. I haven't discussed the bullying issue with anyone who encountered serious bullying for the first time in adulthood (I'm guessing that Libby has probably not encountered it at all), though, so I can't be certain. However, I would like to highlight that most bullying in adulthood is qualitatively different from most bullying in childhood, in that an adult usually has the power to remove him/herself from the situation, whereas children do not, and that adults have more legal recourse in the case of physical assault than children do when assaulted by other children. (I'm not saying that kids who assault others should be thrown in jail–just that society takes assault by adults a lot more seriously than assault by kids.) The dynamic of the situation is fundamentally different when the victim has the power to leave said situation. I suspect it is also less damaging to be bullied when one is an adult because most adults have already formed their sense of self, and thus have a greater emotional buffer against personal attacks than children. However, people who have been bullied or otherwise traumatized as children are less likely to have a secure sense of self than others, making them less able to handle bullying as adults. It is also difficult to handle any situation that triggers PTSD symptoms, which bullying during adulthood is likely to do for people who were severely bullied as children.Bullying as a child does not make it easier to handle bullying as an adult. Equitable conflict with peers as a child probably makes it easier to handle equitable conflict with peers as an adult, but bullying is not the same as equitable conflict. Trauma makes people more, not less vulnerable to future trauma, with the possible exception of when the person has fully recovered from the trauma, which is often not possible.

    • rose

      Do you have any personal experience with bullying or are you just guessing?

      When my parents sugested that I move to a small private school to get away from the bullies I was horrified. How was I supposed to handle future bullies if I was only surrounded by friendly people? The bullies would still be out there in the real world. I would have to face them again, and they would have grown and developed new tricks. How was I supposed to deal with that if I had not had a chance to grow too? My choice was to stay in the public school and I have not regretted it. It’s a rougher environment and it made me stronger.

      Grownup bullies have more power over you, not less. You can’t just walk away fom them. They make sure of that. They get jobs where they have some kind of power over other people, or they create situations where they can complain to people who do have power over you. I have had to deal with bullies in the form of bosses,customers, customers who lie to bosses, landlords, neighbours, coworkers… You can’t just walk away from your job or your house.

      m

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Everyone – You are obviously free to reject my perspective completely if you like, as it sounds like many of you have. But even with reading all of your comments, my perspective has not changed. I'll stand by what I've said – by removing children from the primary source of socialization for young people in our nation, homeschool parents do set their children up for socialization problems. Among those friendly to homeschooling (and especially those who call themselves "homeschool advocates"), my perspective is not popular. But honestly, that's part of why I share my perspective here – I hear so other people say these things, and I feel like someone needs to.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    Libby Anne, I hope I didn't upset you in any way. I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this topic, but as I said, I love reading your blog and hearing about your journey away from Christian patriarchy!Kisekileia, thanks for the advice re: ADHD. While my son is so little and I'm able to keep him home, I don't think medication is necessary. I've found small lessons with frequent breaks for physical activity work just fine. I only brought him up as an example of how socialization in a public school setting is not optimal for every student. I know we'd have to address the ADHD immediately to get him to be a successful student in regular school, but for now, he is perfectly fine and completely unaware that he's "different." I am always open to reason, and would not be categorically opposed to him taking medicine at some point in the future if necessary.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    I can believe that homeschooling causes socialization problems in many cases. However, I also continue to believe that sometimes it is the best option nonetheless because the school environments available are abusive or otherwise seriously damaging to the child.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17967070182847617840 kisekileia

    You're welcome, Leanna. I'm glad your son is doing fine for now; please keep my advice in mind for the future.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    Stuff homeschoolers like: refusing to get a special needs diagnosis such as ADHD when they know their child really needs it. And how, exactly, is this good for the child? Oh wait, it's not. But at least then you can keep your child off that wicked medication. Oh wait, what's so bad about medication, exactly, especially if it really does help? Is it just that homeschoolers are too proud to admit their child has issues that they as a parent can't control by spanking it out of them?Stuff homeschoolers like: pretending they are socialized when everyone else knows differently. Oh, and pretending that because their children claim to enjoy being homeschooled and that it's best, that their child actually believes that rather than their child is just afraid to tell the truth in front of their parents.If you guys that homeschool are doing it right and being so amazing, why so defensive? Shouldn't your methods speak for themselves with amazing results if homeschooling really is all that?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "A bullied child who is removed from the school will be better equipped to handle bullies as an adult than one who isn't removed because they have received the message that their parents care enough about them to keep them safe[...]"For that to work, it assumes a couple of things:1) that the parents of the child left in the hands of school bullies *know* that their child is being bullied, and do nothing about it.(a worst case scenario)2) that the child's belief that his or her parents "care enough about them" will be useful once they become adults and should encounter bullying from adults. (Most) parents care about their children; no bully cares about their victims. No astonishing disclosure there.This is about what the child is to do when they encounter people that do not care about them. Giving a child the basics..i.e.."love", "care", etc, doesn't necessarily equip them for such encounters.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16027956042910623970 Leanna

    Katy-Anne, I am defensive because it's frustrating to be assumed to be like the fundamentalist Christian homeschoolers who won't even let their kids play with my kids, because they know how very different our core values are. I'm defensive because people like you think it's ok to judge all homeschooling families because of the ones you have been exposed to. For example, I have never spanked my children and resent the implication that I have. Trying to lump all homeschoolers together only makes you look incredibly close minded. My son is five. I said I am not opposed to him using medication at some point in the future if it's necessary, but I do NOT think it should be a first resort and we are managing perfectly fine without it right now. I made the decision to homeschool when he was a toddler, not because I wanted to keep him off medicine (I wasn't even thinking of ADHD for him at that point) but because of the CRAPPY SCHOOLS IN MY AREA, which we tried sending my daughter to. Why the hell should I medicate him now so he can conform to a school that doesn't even offer a good education? In what parenting world does that seem rational or good for my child? Maybe you have access to good schools where you live. If so, kudos to you and I am jealous. As I said before, I did not not begin my parenting journey with plans that I would be homeschooling, and I actually left my daughter in public school longer than I should have because I wanted so badly for it to work.People who actually know my kids do think they are well-socialized, and I am not talking about other homeschooling families, since I am not around them much. One thing I know for certain is that YOU have no idea about my children's social skills.I don't claim a blanket statement like "all public schools are bad" and I wouldn't dream of doing so, because I know there are great schools out there. I do claim that the schools in my area are bad, because I have tried them and because they are failing in every measurable way, whether you're talking about the state test scores, ACT scores of high school juniors, or the reading levels of the kids that are graduating. I totally get Libby Anne's distaste for homeschooling, I really do. I think it's completely justified given her upbringing. I still don't agree that it's reasonable to lump us all in together, but that's certainly her prerogative to do so on her blog.

  • Final Anonymous

    I haven't heard rejection or defensiveness from anyone responding to the post except those defending it… Can you give me an example of what you WANT people to say? I'm really curious.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15172112981244682382 shadowspring

    Not a pro for home schooling per se, but a pro for removing a child from a chronic bullying environment: You are teaching them they CAN just leave! Leaving them in a bad situation and claiming there's nothing to be done teaches LEARNED HELPLESSNESS. Bad plan.If you have a job and your boss is inappropriate, you CAN get a new job! If you move to an apartment and a neighbor consistently harrasses you, not only can you make complaints with police, you CAN move! If you are in a bad marriage, and things take a turn for the worse, you CAN leave! That is an amazing, wonderful, liberating message to teach an oppressed child. People who are taught LEARNED HELPLESSNESS don't even try to make bad situations better, because they internalized the idea that nothing can be done but just suck it up and take it. I don't want any child internalizing that message. When a child and/or a parent has done all they can, and the bullying doesn't stop, get the hell out of there! That child CAN have a better life, and the parents can teach that by giving the kid some say in the decision about where else to go/what to do. Home school in not the only other option, but it should be an option if the parents/child are cool with it, or they could try moving to a new district, school choice, private school- ANYTHING but saying in effect, we/you are helpless and there's nothing anyone can do (or will do) to make a better life for the child.I know different kids that have left bullying situations and tried one or more of the above options, and I love living in a country where they have that freedom. I damn sure want my kids to know that there is no detrimental situation in the world that they MUST stay and endure. They CAN make a better life for themselves. They don't have to take it.Isn't that what the story 'The Ugly Duckling' is all about? Keep looking until you find the place where you are ACCEPTED and WELCOME. It is out there for the taking.Teach a child that lesson, and the world will become a better place not just for them, but for all the other people they inspire and lead.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15528465833214550644 Katy-Anne

    And some kids are bullied much worse in homeschool than they ever were in public school and it's worse because it's from the people that are supposed to love you. Homeschooling is far more conducive to bullying than public school is, and it's easier to cover up, too.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Katy-Anne:A lot of us talking about bullying in public schools were responding to a particular comment of Libby-Anne's, and are talking about pulling kids who are already being severely bullied out of school, and not preemptively doing so. Homeschooling is frequently the cover for abuse (though not always) there is no denying that. My best friend's extremely abusive mother home-schooled him, so I've seen a lot of the effects up close. My comments on bullying at least were not in response to the post proper, but to Libby-Anne's comment that kids being bullied in schools should "grow a thicker skin" instead of their parents pulling them out to protect them. Personally, I think we have a rampant bully culture in this country that teaches both parents of home-schoolers and teachers, students, and parents at other schools to believe that they're entitled to bully. Something needs to be done about it, and it needs to be done now.

  • Final Anonymous

    Still didn't answer my question Katy-Anne, unless your previous comment was an example of non-defensiveness (I hope not)… what kind of response is appropriate and non-defensive for a someone who is not anti-homeschooling to make, in your opinion? Or does one exist?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Attackfish – I clarified my comment to say that I see two ways to deal with bullying: first, teach the child to deal with it and stand up for herself and find safe friends, etc, and second, to go to the school administration, as I see no excuse for them allowing bullying on the level you mention to proceed in the first place. I've already said that because the system isn't perfect, I'm not in favor of outlawing homeschooling and I do think it should be an option for families who legitimately are failed by the school system. However, I think homeschooling a kid because she's being bullied should be the last resort, not the first, and I personally don't see myself ever resorting to it even if Sally were dealing with bullies. Also, I don't think we actually live in the hyper bully culture you indicate. I think you are extrapolating your experiences a bit (which you'd probably say is what I'm doing, I realize). Final Anonymous – I can't speak for Katy-Anne, but I'd like to see pro-homeschooling people willing to admit that removing their child from our nation's key means of socialization does create potential socialization problems, and that they realize this and are working to mitigate these problems with their children rather than laughing the socialization question off like it's silly (as have the vast majority of homeschoolers I've ever known).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "I clarified my comment to say that I see two ways to deal with bullying: first, teach the child to deal with it and stand up for herself and find safe friends, etc," ~ L. AnneAgreed. And to do so is to actually equip the child for possible future encounters. Removing the child from potential encounters might, yes, very well be the first step, but that, alone, doesn't "equip" anybody for anything.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    boomSLANG:That works for most bullying, but I was given the "tools" (don't react to them, it only gives them what they want, they have low self esteem, and they're picking on you to try to feel better about themselves, martial arts training to build my self confidence, stand up to them, bullies are cowards, etc.) and I didn't learn how to deal with bullies at all except how to recognize and avoid a sociopath, which is not what the majority of bullies are. I did learn much later how to deal with bullies, after we moved and I wasn't starting from a position of absolute powerlessness. We don't tell other abused kids to learn how to deal with the abuse (okay we do, but most people don't) because we know the damage it does, but we do tell the victims of the kind of bullying I went through to do so. I agree with shadowspring, a parent taking a kid out of a dangerous situation teaches them that they can just leave, and that alone can give them greater confidence to deal with bullying.Libby-Anne:Yes, I'm extrapolating from my own experience. That's what we all do. I too feel pulling a kid out of school is a last resort, and my mother reminded me the other day that the reason she didn't was because I refused. (I'm as stubborn as a mule, and saw it as letting the other kids win, but I was ten and stupid.) The kind of sustained, adult-approved bullying I received is rare but many schools seem to have that one kid, and this is an expected, normalized dynamic. We talk about jocks and mean girls in this society, like it's okay that they pick on others, and administrations frequently adore them, whether they condone the bullying or not. The people from whom bullying is expected are also the ones most likely to get away with rape as well. Also, we lionize fictional characters like House who are nothing if not bullies, and say to their victims, shut up, you're ruining our fun. I see the bully culture a lot like the rape culture, unseen, unacknowledged, but there. Bully culture is probably the wrong word, but it's the palpable idea that it's okay for the powerful to treat the powerless as they please. Bullying is a manifestation of this.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Also, if a parent is responding to extreme bullying by pulling a kid out of public school, this should probably not be permanent. One or two years to recover can do wonders without leaving the kid too far behind socially.

  • Final Anonymous

    No, that can't be right, because homeschooling parents here did say they were aware of the possible socialization problem and taking steps to address it… and you told them they weren't really, their kids still had problems they just didn't know it, and claimed they were rejecting your perspective.So, again… if someone here is NOT rejecting your perspective, what would their response look like? What's an example of the perfect response from a homeschooler that you are looking for?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    @ attackfish,So, the tools didn't necessarily work out for you. Fair enough. But this is ultimately a red herring, simply because to merely remove a child from the harmful situation still does nothing to "equip" them for possible future encounters. A crude analogy could be, a policeman could happen upon a women in the process of being mugged, and yes, the policeman might scare off the mugger, thus, removing her from harm's way. Has he saved her and showed her that he cares? Yes! But unless she goes out and takes some judo lessons, and/or, learns some pro-active measures to take..i.e..where to park/not park, she hasn't been "equipped" for possible future attacks. Aside from that, I don't know how to make my point any clearer. "We don't tell other abused kids to learn how to deal with the abuse (okay we do, but most people don't) because we know the damage it does, but we do tell the victims of the kind of bullying I went through to do so." ~ attackfishI would never tell an abused child to just "deal with the abuse", and I don't think anyone on this thread is advocating such ridiculously lame advice. It seems to me that you are conflating the alternatives..i.e..conflating, "just deal with the abuse", with teaching children what to look for, why bullies bully, to not be afraid to report the bully, etc., etc. Does the latter ALWAYS work? No. And it doesn't have to always work to be a better alternative than simply yanking the child away from every single, possible harmful scenario while growing up."I agree with shadowspring, a parent taking a kid out of a dangerous situation teaches them that they can just leave, and that alone can give them greater confidence to deal with bullying"Right, and I disagree. In the case of being a male(I'm one), I can tell you with the utmost confidence that walking away from a situation where one should be standing up for one's self—for instance, a fight—does not build "confidence". In fact, it does the exact opposite—it tears it down. And it also sends a message to the bully that they can go on bullying. And yes, I'm aware that fighting is against school rules, etc., however, that is immaterial to the point I'm making: Walking away does not lead to "greater confidence" in one's self.Moreover, making the distinction that, as adults, we can "just leave", i.e..get another job, move to another apt., etc., in contrast to children, who cannot always "just leave", is also something that I find unconvincing. If an adult is living paycheck to paycheck(as millions do), then no, he or she may not be able to "just leave" at the first sign of a fellow employee(or boss) seeing what they're "made of". Hell, to "just leave" could have you back in with mom sleeping on her couch, or worse, sleeping in your car(if it hasn't been repossessed)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Final Anonymous – Look, I'm really not in the mood for this kind of thing. Both Shadowspring and Leanna replied to my post by saying that their kids don't have any socialization problems at all, and that I'm wrong that every homeschooled kid has potential socialization problems. They said that sure socialization was important, but that it wasn't a challenge every homeschooled child faces. In fact, both of them said it was a problem just faced by sheltered homeschoolers. I strongly disagree, and think that to say that is to minimize the problem. Now please stop being a smart ass. This is my blog, my space, and I said my piece, and they disagreed, and I clarified and repeated myself, and it's over.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    I'm unable to post

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    This is attackfish, for some reason, I'm not being directed to the give permission to post page for livejournal.boomSLANG:I meant "we" in the societal sense, not in the sense that I think anyone reading this blog would tell an abused child they should learn to deal. Sorry for the confusion.As for your other points, I never suggested that every child being bullied should be yanked out of public schools, only that in extreme cases, it should be an option. I have said previously on this thread that I see it as a last resort and the lesser of two evils. As a last resort, it shouldn't be used unless the other options have failed, so for God's sake stop insisting that they should be used instead.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Continued from above. apparently my posting issue was a length problem.I fail to understand how gender should be entering your argument except to underscore certain societal ideas about masculinity. Both boys and girls are shamed by society for not putting up enough resistance to bullies, when they are put in the kind of extreme situation I described as my own. The kind of situation I was in was one of complete powerlessness fighting back only made it worse. And worse, and worse. Giving kids the option to fight back can be empowering, yes. Teaching them that there is no escape from a situation in which they have learned over and over again that they can't fight back is not empowering. It's like sending them into a lion cage bare handed and telling them to bring you a skin rug. Have you ever been in abject fear of your life from people whom you have no chance of winning against, with no hope and no choice? Because until you have, don't tell me it's empowering.No, adults cannot always leave immediately a situation that is harming them. Domestic abuse victims are most at risk as they try to leave. People live paycheck to paycheck. Does this mean we tell domestic abuse sufferers that they shouldn't try to escape, or tell people being bullied at work that that's just too bad, don't quietly start looking for another job. Everybody with half a brain will know that they are not always able to leave. We want these kids to know that they have the right to leave, and to look for a way out.And your mugging analogy bares a strong similarity to the ones used to victim blame rape survivors. I'm not even going to get into it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "I meant 'we' in the societal sense, not in the sense that I think anyone reading this blog would tell an abused child they should learn to deal." ~ attackfishOkay, fine. Then I don't think anyone's advocating that children should "deal with the abuse", either singularly on this thread, or collectively, as society."I have said previously on this thread that I see it as a last resort and the lesser of two evils."I don't recall you stating it as clearly as you just did, but it's a long thread, so I could be mistaken."As a last resort, it shouldn't be used unless the other options have failed, so for God's sake stop insisting that they should be used instead."We agree that yanking the child out of school should be a last resort, then. So, good, 'some common ground. Notwithstanding, I don't recall where I have ever insisted that removing a child is NEVER an option. So, for pete's sake, please stop pretending that I have."I fail to understand how gender should be entering your argument[...]"Because I'm a male, and I gave my opinion from a male perspective. Nothing less; nothing more."Giving kids the option to fight back can be empowering, yes. Teaching them that there is no escape from a situation in which they have learned over and over again that they can't fight back is not empowering"And they shouldn't be taught that "there is no escape". You are challenging arguments that aren't there, and this only makes it harder to find common ground."Have you ever been in abject fear of your life from people whom you have no chance of winning against, with no hope and no choice? Because until you have, don't tell me it's empowering."To answer your question, yes, I have, which is precisely why I would never insist that running away cannot be an option."And your mugging analogy bares a strong similarity to the ones used to victim blame rape survivors. I'm not even going to get into it."Great, please don't get into it, because if that's what you got out of my analogy, then it appears we're both wasting our time. My police/mugger-victim analogy makes its point just as well if the victim were a man, and the police were a women.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    Very few people out loud in this society says a child should be bullied either, or that someone deserves to be raped, or any number of other things that are heavily implied by society in aggregate. Many abuse survivors have shared stories about how they were treated by society as troublemakers for coming forward, or ways that other people found to blame them for their victimization. That's what I meant by that, not that most people (outside Quiverfull circles) go around talking about how kids should be abused.Since I had previously said that it was a last resort, and I had described the kind of bullying I experienced in some detail, and your responses to that was that it would be disempowering for a child in a similar situation to be allowed to leave public school, and since I explained the level of powerlessness within society I was facing, your responses gave me the impression that you believed all bullied children should be forced to remain in that environment so that they could solve it themselves. Since that's not the case, the (non)argument that we seem to be left with is you: all options should be exhausted before a child is removed from school, me: yes, and once all options have been exhausted, homeschooling is occasionally necessary.The mugging analogy used in shaming rape victims doesn't rely on gender either.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    Astounding. Really, you should have stopped at your second paragraph, attackfish. My analogy in no way, shape, or form, attempts to "shame" anybody—"victim", or otherwise. My analogy only attempts to illustrate that removing(or rescuing) a person from harms way, does not necessarily leave the person "equipped" for similar encounters in the future. My point was evidently lost on you. No biggie. I don't care to be viewed as combative, rude, hateful, so I'll give you the last word if you'd like it.

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    google rape mugging analogy.I'm sure your intent was a "teach a man to fish" sort of thing, but because of the common analogy you will find discussed if you search the above, it came out wrong.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    If you were "sure" of the "intent" of my analogy, then you lead me to believe that your pointing out whatever analogy happens to be similar – even though I said nothing about "bad neighborhoods" or "rape" – is smoke and mirrors, aka, a red herring. Anything else?

  • http://attackfish.livejournal.com/ attackfish

    yes, I'm sure of your intent now, I wasn't then, happy? I also think it was a badly flawed analogy, but using flawed analogies isn't a crime.

  • Erocitnam

    I was home schooled all the way through high school as well. I agree with you whole-heartedly that socialization is important, and being able to understand the cultural background of your peers is as well. But.. there is absolutely no reason you can't be well-socialized and home schooled. Growing up, I had friends in several circles and I was exposed to all the things you mentioned. I dealt with bullies. I was shunned from a clique. (Maybe several, haha, but there's only one that mattered to me.) Common culture in today's world is overwhelmingly comprised of media anyway. I watched the same movies, tv, read the same internet memes and knew the same slang… I had no trouble fitting in once I got to college. I never needed to know what it was like to have class periods or lunch at a cafeteria- I don't recall ever talking to anyone about school experiences, and that's the only way I was different from anybody else.Furthermore, when I compare my self-esteem and ability to handle rejection to that of my public schooled friends, I find that I greatly surpass them. The people in my life who grew up in the herd and depended on other's approval to survive don't know how to live without it now. They seem so fragile to me.I also feel the need to point out that Americans have no common culture, and it's narrow-minded to assume that going to public school and immersing yourself in one culture (out of many) would be enough to teach you how to understand all of them. If you need an example, try comparing the culture of ROTC to that of the art students. They're completely different, even though most of them shared the common experience of public school. Obviously the issue is not how many people you spend time with or how often; it's how much variety there is in the personalities, religious backgrounds, economic status, etc. (I'm personally shocked to learn that there are parents who think socialization is unimportant, as when I was growing up, the argument from my perspective was not whether or not it was necessary, but whether or not home schooling could provide the obviously necessary socialization.) I would like to know, out of all the people you were in co-ops with, etc., were they all the same religion, ethnicity, and economic class? (It seems like they would have been, if adjusting to college was so difficult.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Erocitnam – I am well aware that there are many different "cultures" within public schools (I'm not stupid), what I meant was that America has a common "culture" in that essentially all Americans attend public schools and have common experiences there (that is what I was referring to). I have actually found that the public schoolers i have met have been a lot LESS dependent on others' approval than the home schoolers I have met. To be perfectly honest, none of the public schoolers I have met – and I have met lots – have ever seemed "fragile." Actually, they've always been much more confident than I. As for the other people in my co-ops, there was a good deal of variation in economic class, little variation in ethnicity, and only variation within Christianity. Part of the problem was not having practice interacting with people different from me, but a large part of the problem was also not having common experiences with people or the cultural capital of public schools.

  • Anonymous

    Libby, I like your blog a lot. I really enjoy reading it. I want to share my experiences being bullied with you.I am a woman. When I was a teenaged girl, I was bullied by a boy about two years older than I was. I was taught confidence and how to stand up for myself. One day I told him to fuck off, that nothing in the world he could do could bother me because I didn't care about him or anything he had to say. It's the exact thing children are taught to say to bullies.He then sexually assaulted me. My mom went screaming to the school, the police, everybody. Nobody cared. The police had to report my mom's complaint to the school even though they didn't believe me. The school made me write a formal, written apology for attempting to slander his good name.You say she should have sued or run for school board or something but the reality is my mom was barely making ends meet in a job that worked her 60 hours a week. It just wasn't possible. So my grandparents, who also didn't believe her when she told them I'd been sexually assaulted, agreed to send me to private school and I switched schools.Libby, bullying is a HUGE problem in this country. I wanted to share my story with you because I respect you and want you to understand that your two steps are wonderful and absolutely a correct way to begin handling bullying, but sometimes the problem requires further steps. Sometimes bullies are just bad people that the system supports 100 percent. Thank you for having this blog and sharing your life with us.J.

  • Anna

    When I read your article, it doesn’t appear that your problem was socialization, but rather that you wanted to be like, fit in with, and understand the world and your peers. Being raised in a Christian home, I would think you should have expected to feel like you didn’t fit in, because Christians are not to be like the world. In fact, if you were a Christian, you could have felt glad to not understand the other girls, because what made them tick was all the evil your parents tried to keep you from being defiled with. Another thing I noticed was that college was not the right place for you as a young lady from a Christian home, or at least that it wasn’t dealt with in the right way. Perhaps college would have been a fine situation if you had been able to live at home during that time and talk about your struggles with your parents.You used the word “normal” a lot in this article, and it seems that you define normal as what the majority of people are. However, how most people are is not how God created them. God created people normal. Normal is looking and acting how God made and intended people to be. I see an incorrect perspective about your parents’ understanding of socialization. Parents who have been to public school and socialized in this manner, including yours, choose to homeschool their children exactly because they don’t want their children to have to deal with what they dealt with. Sure, the children don’t make the decision to be homeschooled, but I hope you wouldn’t let your five year old decide what is best for them! Christian parents do understand what it feels like to not fit in; they don’t fit in themselves by homeschooling their children!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03820077215682328240 boomSLANG

    "[...] how most people are is not how God created them. God created people normal. Normal is looking and acting how God made and intended people to be" ~ AnnaSo, help me out here. "God" made and intended people to be opinionated and judgmental?

  • Emilie

    Rather than being upset because you weren’t socialized, I think the root of why you are so upset is that you are not grateful for the way that your parents raised you. You wanted to be like the people you met in college all along, and you are upset that your parents did not let you be like them in the first place. Many parents who grew up outside of Christianity envision something better and different for their children. God has answers for the following problems. God tells us who is responsible for the teaching of children. He tells parents to train their children in the way they should go, so I definitely think that it is God’s plan for parents to teach their children, not the public school’s job. This teaching includes why the parents are doing what they are doing, and to help their children come to the answers they need.God has answers for those who feel like strangers. You say you felt like a cultural misfit; you would like to have had common experiences with these girls and understand them. Jesus taught us to be different from this world; it’s okay to be ignorant in things that are not pure and good, to be an outsider, to be different. Someone who is confident and comfortable with their differences and where they are at is just fine. They merely have to understand why they are different and be able to stand up for it.God has answers for how to handle people who are difficult or mean. When you talk about interacting with people who are different from you or dealing with the mean girl, I can only think of Jesus. He was holy, and He dealt with this kind of thing all of the time. He certainly interacted with people who were mean and who disagreed with Him. If our life is built upon trying to please the Lord, we will seek to be like Him in all respects – both in being different from this world and dealing with people who are not like us.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Anna and Emilie – I know what you're saying, it's what I heard over and over again growing up. I didn't "miss" that I was supposed to be "different," I knew I was supposed to be different. The problem wasn't that I wanted to be "worldly" or that I misunderstood what it meant to be a Christian or that I was upset with being different. The problem was that I was not socialized. Being socialized and being Christian are not the same thing. See, I don't think that "different" has to mean "completely culturally ignorant" and "having no idea how to handle diverse situations or common experiences." This post wasn't about being raised Christian – most of my (public schooled) college friends were actually extremely strong Christians who knew how to handle themselves in situations where I felt lost and also knew how to stand up for their beliefs. So being Christian was not the problem here. Not being well socialized was – and being Christian, even conservative Christian, does not mandate being unsocialized. Your comments make it clear that you are not only Christians, but conservative Christians like how I was raised. Just to point out, in case you didn't notice it on this blog, I'm not a Christian today. I'm an atheist. So talking about "God's plan" is familiar as I've heard it many times before, but isn't going to do any good. I don't think there actually is a god.

  • Anonymous

    may I ask what you'd like to hear homeschoolers say to the socialization question?

  • Natka-Kanadka

    Libby, you have a great blog and it's too bad that you were so hurt by your parents and by the way you were raised. I think your parents tried to do their best the way they knew how. By homeschooling you they were trying to protect you and give you the best education they could. I agree that socialization is an issue in some homeschooling families, especially in very strict religious homeschooling families. But at the same time there are a lot of well-rounded and well-socialized homeschoolers out there, who don't have any problems relating to all kinds of people. Me and my husband came from two opposite backgrounds – he was homeschooled from grade 3 all the way through high school, grew up on a farm in a smallish city (approximately 30,000 people). I attended public school in two different countries (first in Russia and then few years in Canada), grew up in a multi-million capital city (Moscow). We met at university in Canada. Did my husband seem "weird" to me? He seemed different from the other guys I knew, but in a good way – he knew what he wanted, was goal oriented, very well-read and very confident. That's what attracted me to him – he knew who he was and what he believed. I was always a very good student, graduated both in Russia and in Canada at the top of my class, had scholarship in the university, was on the dean's honour list at university. I was very school smart. However, after meeting my husband I realized that it wasn't necessarily the knowledge that I had, I knew how to "beat the system". Russian education system is way more challenging that Canadian (Canadian seemed like a joke to me), but still my husband actually knew more than I did. Because he learned what was interesting to him, read the books that he loved, rather than was made to read.I think I was well-socialized (being exposed to different cultures growing up), but I can't say my husband was any less socialized than I was. Also, all of his other siblings who were also homeschooled are as well-socialized as anyone else I know who attended public schools.When I was in school I had to deal with bullying (not too bad, but still) and I wish I didn't have to. I did grow a "thicker skin", but at what cost? It's hard for young kids to deal with bullies every day, especially when they cannot "escape" them. Adult are usually more equipped to deal with bullies than children. Especially adults that were raised in a "safe" environment. They are more confident, they know their worth and bullying doesn't get to them the same way as it would get to a 5-year-old. We chose to homeschool our children. And some of the reasons are that we want them to keep that love for learning, to keep that 'sparkle' in their eyes, to grow up in a "safe" environment till they are old enough and equipped to deal with bullies (maybe it is sheltering, but whatever, I love my kids and want to keep them safe, they'll have time to learn about hard stuff, why rush it?), we want them to be confident and self-directed adults who can question things and not try to "fit the mold".

  • Anonymous

    I think a flaw in your argument is that you refer to public schooling as 'common culture' — that all public schooled children share a common background. This is blatantly not true. Some public schools have only a handful of children (one of my friends graduated from a class of three) and some have thousands. Some are urban, some rural, some violent, some peaceful. Not all schools have proms or pep rallies. Your second assumption is that simply attending public school confers the ability to handle certain life situations. There are plenty of people who have attended public school who struggle with social life. A third assumption is that being different from the norm is a handicap. Again, not necessarily so. Some people enjoy the perspective gained from being outside the mainstream. How is it that some people arrive as immigrants from very different cultures yet manage to thrive in their new homes?Finally, even if there are social losses produced by homeschooling there are also social gains. Whether the one outweighs the other should be decided on a case by case basis.

  • http://www.pasttensepresentprogressive.blogspot.com Latebloomer

    Libby, thank you for posting the link to this article on my blog….it’s exactly what I’ve been feeling!! I also grew up knowing all the right answers to the socialization question. There was particular emphasis on needing to maintain eye contact with adults in order to impress them and represent the movement well (apparently eye contact was something public school kids didn’t know how to do?).

    I noticed that a lot of commenters on here who are disagreeing with you about socialization are homeschooling PARENTS, not people who were homeschooled. That says a lot to me.

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  • sstrong

    I was homeschooled 7-12th grade. I would say the one thing I didn’t learn much about was how to deal with hostility because I experienced very little. That did lead to a bit of a self-confidence problem.

    But what changed that for me was the internet. I’m into politics and frequent a few political websites. Getting into debates in the comments, learning to fairly revel in being called all kinds of names, starting my own blog and dealing with negative feedback, etc…

    The internet has thickened my skin. Perhaps I’m a late bloomer in the art of name-calling, but in no way do I regret being homeschooled.

    I went to a private school through sixth grade. Sixth grade was the highest grade that school offered. My mom chose to homeschool me after that because she didn’t want me exposed to the world of sex, drugs, and alcohol in public school.

    I’m also a Christian and was raised in a Christian environment. As such I had very little exposure to pop culture anyway since most of it was considered immorally tinged, especially for my age. To this day I don’t think I could pick Beyonce out of a line up. And you know what? I don’t care. I have no interest in most icons of pop culture. Just because they’re famous doesn’t mean they’re actually worthy of my attention. I certainly don’t feel like a stranger in my own country. And if I want to know who someone is, I look it up.

    I’m into my own set of subjects and have my own favorite artists. And have actually met people online who have become good friends in real life because of those interests.

    Every form of schooling has its own problems. In a lot of cases dealing with challenges at a young age is helpful. Then there are the cases where someone kills themselves because they’ve been bullied, or gets knocked up because all their friends are having sex and they desperately want some boy to like them. There are public school kids that carry permanent scars because of the crap that went down. Others thrive.

    Some public schools are good, some are terrible. Good luck.

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  • Kellen

    I was only homeschooled through high school, because my depression and other emotional problems were causing me friction in public school, making it nearly impossible for me to make friends or deal with bullies because my emotions would be too overwhelming to cope with. My parents decided to remove me from that atmosphere, because they felt the constant pain I was in distracted me from getting an education. They honestly felt it was the right thing to do. The result is that, at 27, I still have no friends because my problems were allowed to crystallize. The only time I’m any “good” with people is in a work setting, because of all my retail experience. I can play them so they want to make my job easier, or make them want to buy something. But whenever I try to make friends: i.e., put myself in a situation where there are emotional stakes, I’m still 15. Vulnerable, scared, completely at sea.
    That’s just my experience. I regret being homeschooled. I would give anything to be able to go back in time and tell my parents “No. It’s not worth it. Trust me. At worst, public school will ruin the next four years. Homeschooling will have her in therapy for the next 12.”

    • http://equalsuf.wordpress.com Jayn

      I also struggled socially in school, and unlike you I stuck with the public system (mostly for lack of a better option). I’m thinking that there is no one right option–maybe there isn’t any right option–because I can tell you that school didn’t just run my school years, as I’m still dealing with the emotional fallout today. I started to develop depression in high school, which I’ll probably be dealing with until the day I die, and I have little doubt that my school experiences are what caused it. What I needed wasn’t to be in the school system, or out of it, but for my problems in the area of socialisation to actually be addressed, which they never were. I still struggle today ten years out, still very uncertain around people and often unwilling to put myself out there because of all the crap experiences I’ve had with that in the past.

      Unlike you I wouldn’t say I regret the choice I made (academically it was my best option) and I generally feel that being in school is best for kids, but to say that it only ruins the next four years…it ruined more than that for me.

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  • HL

    I was homeschooled, and I now homeschool my own children. I also went to a secular college after high school. Looking back, I don’t think it was any more of an adjustment for me to “fit in” than any of the others in my classes in college. College usually overwhelming at first for almost anyone. But even if it is at all more of an adjustment for homeschooled kids–perhaps it is for some–isn’t that a good stage of life for them to deal with a big adjustment, when they are old enough to handle it? I put my 4 year old into the public school system, and that was just plain overwhelming for him and I’m sure he cried as much as you did when you entered college. We were both so happy to have him home for school the following year. : ) But I’d like to say, more importantly, from what I’ve read on your blog, you seem to miss the point of why many people homeschool in the first place— If your primary goal for your children is for them to “fit in” with the rest of the world, homeschooling is probably not your thing. If having a career is important to you (I believe I read somewhere on your blog that that is a primary reason for you to send your kids to school), you certainly won’t be able to homeschool. I used to think those things were important too, but have realized that there are some things in life infinitely more important. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to discover that with your own children, not matter which educational option you choose will be best for them.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I wasn’t going to respond to your comment until I got to your suggestion that the fact that I have a career means I don’t place enough value on my children. First of all, you don’t know me. Second of all, guys have careers, does that mean they don’t value their children enough? Third, coming to my blog to insult my parenting is extremely, extremely low.

      • HL

        Hmmm…interesting response. First of all, I’m not sure why you think I made any comment on your parenting. I don’t know you. I don’t know what kind of parent you are so I can’t comment on that, nor have I. I simply wrote that if your priorities when choosing a educational option include 1) ensuring that your children “fit in” and 2) making time for your career, than I can understand why homeschooling is not for you. If that is bad parenting than that is your conclusion, not mine. I certainly didn’t say that I think homeschooling is for everyone!
        Secondly, I assumed that you appreciated comments from those reading your blog, and that you would be as interested in hearing another perspective as I was in hearing yours. You write: “I encourage commenters to state their opinions and views emphatically, call it like they see it…”, but perhaps I misunderstood and that is only meant for those who agree with you…?

      • victoria

        Suppose I were someone who believed very strongly that all women should work outside the home: that it’s vital to women’s getting respect in the broader world and making the most of their education and potential, and it keeps them financially secure to boot.** And I were talking to you, and I said, “I used to think personally caring for my kids and homeschooling them was important, but I realized that are were some things in life infinitely more important. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to experience that in your own contributions to the world around you.”

        You wouldn’t feel even a little belittled by that? I think most people would.

        And that’s leaving aside the fact that plenty of people who homeschool do have substantial careers. Look at Susan Wise Bauer, who wrote The Well-Trained Mind while working as a professor at William & Mary and homeschooling her kids.

        ** I don’t actually believe this, but go with me here.

      • HL

        If you said that to me, my response would be “I don’t agree with you”…because I don’t. : ) I can’t say I would feel belittled when someone has a different opinion than my own—if I did, I’d be feeling belittled all the time, as I’m pretty sure most of the world wouldn’t agree most of the time! : ) I could read the articles on this blog and feel belittled, or I could just find it interesting to read a different perspective than mine…as I have…and be strengthened in my own opinion of what is important to me and my family…as I have.

        I perhaps wasn’t clear about “the point why many people homeschool in the first place”—my comments weren’t meant to be about women having a career, but rather the things are our priorities when making a decision about education for our children. The career comment was just one example, given since Libby Anne named that as a reason for not homeschooling. But the point of homeschooling for many people is to offer their kids the freedom to learn a worldview that the public system refuses to offer…a worldview that includes a Creator and a Savior. I realize that an atheist would also have no reason to want this type of worldview included in their child’s curriculum, so again, that may be another reason to send them to public school. Anyway, THAT is the thing that I discovered to be infinitely more important that being able to “fit in” the first day of college, and more important than those other things that were mentioned as reasons for focusing on a career: “getting respect in the broader world and making the most of their education and potential, and [being] financially secure…” I don’t expect you to agree, but I also hope you wouldn’t be offended or feel belittled when you hear an opinion different than you own. It is certainly not my intention when sharing my view, just as I’m sure it is not yours or Libby Anne’s.

      • tsara

        I’d like to point out that public education is not atheistic — it is (and should be) secular (i.e., the material should not imply, infer, or assume the existence or nonexistence of Allah, Zeus, Jehovah, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster; and at the end of a semester, you should not be able to say with any certainty what any faculty or staff members believe [with exceptions for 1) direct questions from students, if they feel like answering, and 2) the faculty/staff member's personal religious practices (e.g., a Catholic wearing a cross)].

        Even religious education in public schools should be secular (e.g., rather than a teacher or textbook assuming or coming to a conclusion about whether or not Jesus was actually the son of God, they/it should frame the subject as this is what some people believe or this is what needs to be accepted for this argument to make sense.

        The point of this is to a) keep the separation between church and state, b) not infringe on anybody’s religious liberties, and c) allow parents to add the “worldview” to the facts and skills (e.g., religious family: [child] “Evolution happens!” [parents] “…because God made it so.” my family: [me] “Evolution happens!” [parent 1] “Meiosis! Punnett squares! Sexual reproduction! Gregor Mendel! Masters-in-some-form-of-cell-biology blathering!” [parent 2] “Rudyard Kipling stories are not accurate depictions of how evolution works! Scope’s monkey trial! The Beagle and the Galapagos Islands! Make sure to publish or someone else might beat you to it! Let’s look at pictures of blue-footed boobies! Let’s also skip washing our hands before dinner today in celebration! Ice cream if you can figure out why before eight!”).
        Basically, if your ‘worldview’ doesn’t actively conflict with reality, public school should not be a barrier to transmitting it to your child(ren).

      • victoria

        I wasn’t trying to say that I feel belittled when I hear opinions different from my own (or that I think most people do).

        Rather, there are lots of things in life where you can see real positives on both sides of the issue but you have to pick one. Living in the country vs. living in the city. Having a small family vs. having a big one. In this case, I think it’s great for parents to stay at home with their kids and be there, and I think it’s also great and valuable for kids to see their parents working outside the home at something they love.

        I’ve done both and I have to say that no matter which I was doing I could see the good sides of the other alternative very easily. I felt conflicted doing each because I knew that whichever one I did, I was missing out on something important. I would never have had — I never have had — a problem with someone saying that they were glad they worked or glad they stayed at home, or that they thought one or the other was undervalued in society and more people should do it. Or that they were unhappy with whichever one they had done or were doing.

        But had someone made a comment to me when I said I was going back to work about how they were sure I’d regret my decision because it was bad for my kid and they hoped I’d realize what I was giving up before it was too late, yeah, that would’ve felt personal and belittling, like the person making the comment was building themselves up at my expense on an issue where I know full well there’s no one “right” answer, and I would’ve taken it as hurtful. I would definitely have read it as intended to be hurtful whether it actually hurt my feelings or not. That’s how I read your initial comment.

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        “If having a career is important to you . . . I used to think those things were important too, but have realized that there are some things in life infinitely more important. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to discover that with your own children.” I’m not sure how I wasn’t supposed to take this as a suggestion that by having a career I’m missing things that are infinitely more important, aka my children, and that maybe someday I’ll discover that. But maybe you didn’t mean that. All I know is that I’ve heard from homeschooling moms, over and over and over again, that by having a career I’m depriving my kids and being a bad parent, and your comment seemed to fit that mold. If that’s not what you intended, awesome! But that’s definitely how I took it and that’s why I responded like I did.

        As for fitting in rather than sticking out, not being scared of your peers is nice, as is not feeling like a foreigner in your own country. And yes, those are things I value and want for my kids. That said, if you read any of my parenting pieces I think you’ll find that I’m definitely not raising conformists. In fact, one thing I was surprised to find upon arriving at college was that my new public schooled friends were NOT conformists. I’d been taught that public schools turn out robots and conformists, but I found that that couldn’t be more false.

        Finally, since writing this piece (it’s an old one) one thing I’ve come to feel is that the extent to which a homeschooled child will experience socialization issues does very much depend on how they were homeschooled. If they only associate with other homeschooled kids, they’re going to have problems feeling comfortable around public schooled kids, for instance, even more so if it’s only other Christian homeschooled kids. But if a homeschooled kid is involved in a lot of activities with public school kids and is good friends with public school kids, this will likely not be the case.

    • reallymom?

      HL I agree with you that socially adjusting is hard at any age and it’s really up to the parents to decide when it will be best for the child to have to “tough it out” in the real world. Personally I am delaying this by homeschooling until my kids really want to go to public or private school.

  • reallymom?

    I am a homeschooling mom of two. I honestly have to say that I have never met anyone who said that they had an ideal social situation at school or home growing up-across all social classes, religious beliefs, gender,race, educational method you name it everyone I meet seems to have baggage from their childhood. I was never homeschooled but I cried in middle school and high school trying to fit in at a private school and then a public school, I still carry baggage from this time in my life. I watched MTV, wore fashionable clothes, hung out with the “cool” kids, got good grades, participated in extracurricular activities, went to 3 proms, took birth control pills and had a cute boyfriend! But actually I still struggled socially and felt alone and out of place alot-noone would have known this I was funny and outgoing and had lots of “friends”. I still don’t get the common culture social “innuendos” most of the time and I still get poked fun at 30 because I’m quirky. I’m not exactly sure how homeschooling will turn out for my kiddos and I do worry but no ones life will be perfect we all just do our best as parents. Personally I value quality of education over fitting in socially.

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