Awhile back, I was having a relaxing time with some mama friends, while our children played together. It had been some time since I’d spent time with either of them, so questions revolved around updates, really. Both are public school moms now, so it was interesting to hear the phrase from both of them, “I’m so glad they are doing this. It’s exactly what X-child needed and they are so happy.”
It’s so strange to hear parents say this, for me. It also makes me sad for them and their children.
If you don’t mention “school” to your children, they will invariably hear it from someone else. Children are curious, but I’ve met very few 4 and 5 year olds who actually vocalize that they *want* to leave their home and be away from their parent 4-8 hours a day, 5 days a week.
What I have seen is parental build-up. We talk up all the “cool” things that going away means, without mentioning the negative aspect at all. Like, neat friends to play with (that, in a year they’ll either be separated from into different classrooms, or be chastised for talking to while in classes the brunt of their day). Such as the adventure of learning (to standardized tests). Such as recess (inside a fence, generally, set at someone else’s discretion)!! How fun!
All of those things can (and should) be experienced anywhere…. more often, and honestly, outside of an institutionalized setting. And generally with delight rather than an eventual dread or sense of drudgery.
All of these are things that they could be saying the exact reverse of, if they chose to be the kind of person (I have not yet met a mother incapable of it) they know is required of homeschooling:
“We’ll be starting a learning schedule this year, but you’re still going to get to hang out with the neighbor kids, Mrs. Linsky at the retirement home, and the kids at gymnastics, plus you’re going to start to meet new kids of all ages when we all chose to put homeschool community activities in our schedule. You’re going to get to make and spend time with so many new friends through homeschooling, while keeping your current friends!”
“You know how we’ve been counting buttons, taking nature walks, and listening to folk songs? You’ve been learning this whole time – and you get to keep exploring this whole wide world! I’m so proud of your curious nature and desire to learn! It’s pretty cool, huh?”
“It will only take 1-2 hours a day, then the rest of the day is free to play, read, draw, help around the house, dance, whatever we want or need to do. We get to control our own day, each day.”
I think, though, that most parents don’t realize that they have indoctrinated… conditioned and prepared… their children to “be happy” with the parent’s decision, regardless, anyway.
If I am to be honest, we all indoctrinate our children, for better or worse, and that includes me.
I would rather my children learn the message that it’s healthy and good to be a family that grows together, especially through the struggle of every day rhythm than the alternative message that we all need extremely large breaks from one another 5 days a week to function as a unit, that breaking up the family unit so regularly and for such long periods of time is “for the best” or will make any one of us truly “happy.”
I do not want to teach my children that “peaceful” family life comes from being apart… because, from experience in my own life, and watching others, I simply know that is not true. It’s cognitive dissonance, to tell ourselves that sending our children off for so long is what “works best for all of us,” when the reality is so very different.
Mothers who say that to homeschool their teen was causing their teen to act out, so *giving them what they wanted* was the most peaceful thing for their home –
Mothers who say in one breath they love their (growing, curious, needy) kids and in the next, “but” they couldn’t stand being home with them all day long… but could tolerate obnoxious (knowing-better) adults all day in a “fulfilling” job situation –
Mommas who say they dread summer vacation, because their kids “drive them crazy” –
Do all mom’s need breaks sometimes? Sure. But 9 or more hours out of a child’s 13-14 waking hours, 5 days a week? This is not a short break, it’s a complete disconnect for most of a small child’s waking hours, the majority of a week.
I’ve found myself feeling overwhelmed before, contemplating a change from homeschooling. I’m not immune to sinful thoughts or feelings, a desire to have someone else deal with an unruly, mean-spirited child the majority of their day. I also don’t try to pretend that the desire I once had to send them away, was right or good. It just was what I was going through. It made me dig into the Word of Truth, cry out to God, and be once again convicted that His written will for families to be together, is for a reason and He can be trusted.
Trusting Him truly *has* been exactly what our family needs, and while we are not always happy, as we strive to serve Him more, we find more joy and contentment, together. This is true for everyone who surrenders to His will for family with a spirit of joyful obedience.