She looked me in the eye and said, “But what about Prom?”
That was her best shot at trying to make me question our choice to homeschool our children. It took me a little bit to even comprehend her thought process.
But, the heart of her question was not really Prom in and of itself. It was that big, bad “S” word every homeschool parent will hear at some point in their homeschooling career:
However, it isn’t just outsiders who can’t understand how a child who is schooled at home could ever be socially adept. Even homeschool parents themselves, especially those deeply entrenched in a public school mentality, will find themselves petrified of raising a child who isn’t socialized according to the cultural paradigm. They will run themselves ragged taking their children to sports practices and games, classes they don’t need, and group field trips where no one learns anything – all in the name of socialization. (Some parents take their children to these events without the “S” word being their motivation. They are NOT the ones I’m speaking of here – just to be clear. More on that in a moment…)
Parenting out of Fear or Guilt?
Many parents these days are parenting out of fear and/or guilt. They fear doing something wrong, they fear not doing everything, they fear not being “good enough”, they fear raising children who aren’t “good enough.” And homeschool parents are the worst! We have taken Deuteronomy 6 seriously, but rather than believing the Lord will bless our efforts to disciple our children, we run around fearful of missing opportunities and warping our children forever.
And then there’s the guilt. Every missed opportunity, every crazy day, every whiny child, every off-schedule moment makes us feel so guilty, we are almost paralyzed. Despite the fact we know there is no such thing as a “perfect mom“, we still cling to our guilt, hoping it will somehow make us better parents/teachers.
If your desire to socialize your child is based on fear or guilt, it’s time to rethink things.
So, back to the Prom question…
When Others Question Your Child’s Socialization…
More often than not, the reason a non-homeschooler brings up the socialization question is because:
1. They misunderstand the nature of homeschooling.
2. They think your child might be missing out on all the fun they had.
There are other reasons, of course, but most of the people I hear this question from are reliving memories and wonder how a child could ever be happy without those memories.
What they don’t know is that my children are making fun, happy memories all their own!
Think of it this way…
A child in another country is not going to have the same happy childhood memories a child in the U.S. has, yet, many children across the world each and every day are making wonderful childhood memories to cherish the rest of their lives. They are having their own brand of fun. Their memories do not have to look like yours to be good ones.
And just because my children don’t go to a government school does not mean they are never around people. I’m not even sure how I would manage to keep my children away from people. In fact, I would almost venture to guess my children are around a more varied group of people than most public-schooled children. They have met and interacted with all ages of people from all walks of life.
As for those people who are genuinely concerned your child is being warped from a lack of socialization, it might be a good time to educate them on the true nature of homeschooling. It is completely possible they simply do not understand that homeschooling does not mean your child never leaves the house.
Should You Find Socialization Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Child?
Again, if you are wanting to socialize your child because you are fearful or feeling guilty, stop right now and do something else for a while. You will not make a good decision about what kinds of opportunities are good for your child and your family if you are working from those emotions.
Ok, good…let’s move on…
I am not against purposely being social. Children need to learn manners and how to behave in particular situations. They also need their parents to guide them through how socialization works. The epidemic of rude, ill-behaved children in public has a lot to do with parents who aren’t guiding their children through proper socialization. So, by all means, please socialize your children to the point where they know how to behave in public situations!
When assessing extracurricular activities for socialization merits, consider using our family’s list of guidelines for participating in outside activities. This will help to keep you from running around like a homeschool mom with her head cut off. Socialization is not about doing everything and being everywhere, but about choosing those things that truly have lasting merit and will guide your child into adulthood.