Country Living Series

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Exhausted leftovers"

Here's a fascinating little piece called Why Urban, Educated Parents are Turning to DIY Education which focuses on affluent Seattle urbanites who are discovering the joys of homeschooling.

Unlike the rural knuckle-dragging UNeducated parents who dress their kiddies in prairie skirts and force them to churn butter (and then lock them away after hours lest they accidentally be socialized against their parents' wishes), these parents will, you know, do it right. This "once-unconventional choice 'has become newly fashionable,'" notes the article.

Whoo-hoo! Homeschoolers are on the cutting edge of hip happenin' fashion! --unless of course you're not progressive or urban, in which case you're "evangelicals or off-the-gridders who spend a lot of time at kitchen tables in the countryside"... which everyone knows isn't fashionable.

The writer of this piece, in between elitist pokes at those of us who have been homeschooling for years, still makes the obligatory speculations about homeschooled kids' socialization. She apparently doesn't know there are lots of second-generation homeschoolers out there, including my daughter's brilliant fiddle teacher who is ranked eighth in the nation (the rube), and all these people are getting along just fine in the Real World. But even this writer admits that urban parents are recognizing the benefits of family togetherness and wanting to avoid getting nothing but the "exhausted leftovers" of their children at the end of a conventional school day.


Unlike poor deprived rural homeschoolers, these hip happenin' Seattle parents can indulge their children with "Girl Scouts and ceramics and book club and enrichment classes and park outings," not to mention plays and museums and other stellar opportunities. (Whereas we pathetic troglodytes must make do with watching calves being born and canning vegetables. Sigh.)


I'm sorry, I probably shouldn't poke fun at these families for doing what I strongly encourage every parent to do, namely break away from the government academic prisons and educate their own children. But it's not the parents being interviewed that jarred on my nerves, it was the condescending pat-on-the-head tone of the writer. Conservative parents have known for years what these progressive parents are just discovering: one-size-fits-all education doesn't work for every child. But why is it backward if conservative parents homeschool but enlightened when progressive parents do it?

The writer of this piece also cannot seem to fathom that families are happiest when they spend time together. "[Y]ou can’t help but wonder whether there’s a cost to all this family togetherness," she writes. "There are the moms, of course, who for two decades have their lives completely absorbed by their children’s. But the mothers I got to know seem quite content with that, and clearly seem to be having fun getting together with each other during their kids’ activities."

Yes, Virginia, some moms like being moms. Surprise!

The writer quoted psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of The Blessing of a Skinned Knee (full disclosure: haven't read it), "who admires the way homeschoolers manage to 'give their children a childhood' in an ultracompetitive world. Yet she wonders how kids who spend so much time within a deliberately crafted community will learn to work with people from backgrounds nothing like theirs. She worries, too, about eventual teenage rebellion in families that are so enmeshed."


I confess, I almost snorted my tea out my nose when I read this. Teenage rebellion? I know very, very, very few homeschooling families whose teenage children rebel. I have two teens and they aren't even close to that state. Rebellion often arises from peer pressure which teaches that dislike of one's parents is cool, acceptable, and normal. This attitude is reinforced by government schooling which accomplishes the act of separating children from the influence of their parents.

Whereas homeschooled teens know better. They know their parents aren't the ignorant adversaries public schools would have them believe. This attitude is reinforced by their peers.

Oh well. I know I shouldn't get my gingham knickers in a twist over this type of article. I should be grateful that even progressive parents are supporting the homeschooling movement.

And while it would be nice if they wouldn't lump the rest of us into one ridiculously inaccurate category, I won't hold my breath. Tolerance, as we all know, is a one way street.

20 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

    While I was pleased to see the parents portrayed well, I too took issue with the educated urbanite thing. You said exactly what I've been thinking... but way nicer. ;)

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  2. Heh, my sis and I managed not to rebel when we were teenagers (I thank Mom for that!) However, we knew so many other kids at school who did FAR more than just put down their parents, and what's even worse, the parents themselves (yes, I paid attention to them) seemed either completely oblivious or were willfully ignoring what was going on, hoping everything will turn out right in the end.

    The only kids I knew, and there were very few, that didn't go through that "rebellious stage" were those who came from far more conservative homes with involved parents. They were definitely not very popular and had a miserable time at school. I did too.

    There were many times I wished I had been homeschooled, and sadly, I don't know if that will be an option for me when I finally start having kids because of the economy and the school loans that will probably plague me for the rest of my life. I keep hoping and praying to find a way though.

    ~Lily~

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  3. We've never experienced teen rebellion either. All those hours together forge a bond that is difficult to break. My adult children are such good friends, with us their parents and with each other. I thank God that we were introduced to homeschooling, it has been the second biggest blessing in our lives. (The first being the Gospel of Jesus Christ.) Those who believe that homeschoolers are properly socialized are the troglodytes! Products of the public school system where bad manners are reinforced, thinking is discouraged and age segregation is mandatory.

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    1. I'm assuming you meant "Those who believe that homeschoolers aren't properly socialized". Just wanted to point that out for you. :) Darn those fast fingers! I hate it when that happens!

      ~Lily~

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  4. Terrific post. Of course the progressive act like they have found something new. Old traditional ways work. God's ways work. Hip to be homeschooled as long as you don't thump on the bible and live in rural America.

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  5. Terrific post! Hip to be homeschooled as long as you don't thump the bible and live in rural America, *humph*. The old ways work. God's ways works.

    Socialization is waaaay over rated. God wants his people to be of the same heart and mind - love and obey him. What progressives are really saying when they bring up the socialization argument is that they want you and your God fearing children to accept all things pagan and compromise your beliefs.

    Again, terrific post.

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  6. Thank you for sharing, I read that same article yesterday and must say I share most of your opinions. Why does it even have to be 'cool' if it is right then it is right no matter who is doing it or not doing it!)

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  7. Hi Patrice. I love your blog and read it almost every day. Just thought i'd leave a comment because this post reminded me of something a guy, who had a huge impact on my life, once said to me. I was ranting about some perceived injustice and he just listened until I ran out of steam. Then he said he wanted to ask me a question but he didn't want me to answer him until I thought about the question for a day. He asked me whether I would rather get what I really deserved or whether I would like to just keep what I have. I waited until the next day to answer him but after thinking about the question for about five minutes I realised how truly blessed I was and how trivial this little injustice was that had me all worked up. From what I've read about your life you are truly blessed. Don't let the nattering nabobs get to you. Don

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  8. "happy with detachment parenting"...I'm stunned. Children are not garages, detached or attached, which ever the parent decides! How can she think Milo likes her "detachment" when she drops him off at preschool that by her own admission he does not like!?
    To continue my house analogy, parents are a foundation and children rise from the base, firmly attached. Each child is an individual, thus can be represented by a new room, each generation a new level or story. When you "detach" your children from you, you should not be surprised when they rebel, they have nothing to support them as they make their journey, and they are left to their own devices, often with dire consequences.
    I am shaking with anger right now, mostly because I know the author is not alone and she and her kind are creating another generation of people who are "detached" just like they are. How sad.
    sidetracksusie

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  9. What a great article. As the mom of 3 homeschooled children, we haven't experienced teen rebellion either. We have one in college and she's doing well and having no problems meeting people, one who will graduate in May and a 12 yr old. We enjoy being together as a family. It's fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world! I've seen the attitudes and very "worldly" experiences that come from the public school system. Why would any parent want to put their children in that environment?

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  10. I'll probably start homeschooling the grandchildren this fall.

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  11. Love your blog. Rarely do I disagree, but I disagree that peer pressure is the only cause of rebellion in teenage years. I read in a Christian parenting book that "rules without a relationship leads to rebellion." Peer pressure is part of it, but parents who are detached don't give their teens a chance.

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  12. Rebellion also happens when a child is neglected. My parents provided for my physical needs, but left me to my own devices. That bred rebellion in my heart because I felt that I didn't belong anywhere. I say this to reinforce your point, Patrice. Any parent who cares enough to homeschool their child would actually be a major part of their child's life. Few kids would rebel against that. I would have given anything to have that when I was younger.

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    1. For both MCS and PT, I stand corrected. You are both right. We have such an excellent relationship with our girls that I sometimes forget not every parent is as enthusiastically connected.

      I almost commented on the "detachment parenting" reference the article's author cited at the end of her article. This is apparently the parenting style she is practicing with her own little boy -- detachment parenting. I wish her luck when those teen years hit because you both pointed out what happens when parents aren't attached to their teens.

      - Patrice

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  13. I appreciate your blog very much. I homeschooled my two youngest for 10 years. Sent them up to the local community college for their last year of high school. Their 'rebellion' lasted about two semesters, during which time I was informed about how homosexuals are like soooo coooollll, and the USA is an imperialist evil nation.

    Having taught them to think critically, however, the second two semesters I was informed that homosexuals are really emotionally messed up and need help, and one child has joined the Army to, in his words, "Serve my country."

    When I look back on homeschooling, I could've done so many things better. I should've focused more on American history, and I should have made them write more essays. But, just being around my children all day, every day and taking responsibility for educating them, made a world of difference.

    The temporary rebellion fizzled. One thing I would advocate...if you homeschool your kids, put them in a local college or a community college for the first year or two after high school, especially if they are a little impressionable. Having the anchor of a stable home life allows them just enough rope to figure things out without succumbing to the siren call of the world.

    My daughter, now 21, came up to the me the other day and out of the blue thanked me for staying at home with them. She said, "I wouldn't be the person I am today if you hadn't stayed home with us."

    Homeschooling can have many heartaches, not least of which is kids who may reject your choices for them, but it is often the right thing to do. And sometimes, your reward even comes this side of Heaven.

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  14. What i absolutely loved was the line in the article about how so much time with your family may be destructive because you don't learn to get along with people who think differently than you. Because my five children are all clones who think only the thoughts that my hive-mind projects into their little heads. I have never spent an entire day doing nothing but refereeing fights between my like-minded little clones who all share exactly the same opinion on everything. Whatever will they do upon my eventual demise?

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  15. Okay, the article was biased and a bit silly. But don't go getting too hacked off at your fans (you know, some of your fans *are* educated urbanites living in seattle - I count myself one). As my fiance and I talk about planning our family, the last thing I want to feel is reluctance to ask experienced homeschoolers for advice because they've got an elitist attitude about me simply because I live West of the mountains, went to college, etc. Throw a little dirt, lose a little ground.

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    1. Heavens, Gerald, this has nothing to do with being urban or being from Seattle, and everything to do with the tone of the article's writer (NOT the tone of the parents being interviewed). I dearly hope you and your fiancee DO homeschool your kids, urban or not (wink), because frankly it's the best educational option out there.

      The article was too condescending of rural homeschoolers for my taste, is all. The presumption that those of us who don't live urban therefore can't be educated (my husband and I both have master's degrees in the sciences) and are therefore unqualified to teach our own kids just set my teeth on edge.

      Happy wedding and family planning!

      - Patrice

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    2. I hear you Patrice - there is certainly a stereotype for homeschoolers, especially in more rural areas. I suppose *my* teeth get set on edge as well when I hear the reverse about all us crazy city folk (not about homeschooling, more likely about not knowing how to open the car if the battery on the key fob runs dies).

      I think it was just a little jet lag and quick fingers on the keyboard - when I read it again I can see your ire is with the author :-) Thanks again for all the great content - and the great book!

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    3. Oooh, quick fingers on the keyboard... been there done that... no worries, I would never presume you couldn't drive with a dead key fob, LOL...

      - Patrice

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