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Homeschool Freaks & Geeks

Rachel Winder from Scottsdale, Arizona writes:

I liked your article and I have been thinking about home-schooling, but I keep wondering how your kids can ever learn to get along with people if they are always so sheltered. (My mother-in-law keeps asking me that, too.)

Hope you can answer this for me.

Molly writes:

The socialization question is one of the most oft-asked questions about homeschooling. We asked it and worried about it ourselves before we began teaching our kids at home. We certainly wouldn ?t want to have our children turn into weird freaks who couldn ?t relate to anyone. Once we started homeschooling, we found that learning socialization skills was basically a non-issue it hasn ?t been a problem at all.

For simplification in this answer, I am going to refer to learning to get along with people ? as socialization skills, since that ?s generally what people mean when they talk about this issue. This means that we want our kids to learn to act in a socially acceptable ? way around others.

As a Mormon momma, there are many things I want my children to know as far as socialization skills go. And truthfully, many of them may not even be socially accepted in a given situation, but they will always be gospel accepted.

Here ?s a short list of some of the things I want my children to learn:

  • How to make new friends
  • How to keep friends
  • The ability to relate to others different from themselves
  • How to deal with bullies
  • To feel sympathetic towards others
  • How to solve conflicts
  • How to deal with disappointments if things don ?t go their way
  • To obey an appropriate authority figure
  • How to act in a group setting
  • How to act in a one-on-one setting
  • Polite manners
  • How to take responsibility for themselves
  • To respect their elders
  • How to make their own decisions without being influenced by what others want them to do
  • To serve others
  • How to work cooperatively with others

If my children learned how to do all of these, wouldn ?t they be considered socially acceptable?

One prevailing myth is the idea that the schools are responsible for teaching children how to get along with people. Certainly schools may teach children some of the above skills such as how to obey an authority figure and how to sit quietly and wait for your turn.

Parents, not schools, should be in charge of teaching their children proper socialization skills. I say this whether you send your kids to private or public school or if you homeschool them. It is our responsibility as parents to make sure our children learn our family values in how they relate to others, not the responsibility of the government, neighbors, friends and so on.

Now I want to talk a minute about homeschoolers being sheltered. Exactly what are homeschoolers sheltered ? from? Since I don ?t presume to know exactly what people mean when they say that homeschoolers are sheltered, I ?m going to assume that it means that homeschoolers don ?t usually encounter these things every day unless they go out of their way to find them: large groups of kids their same age, kids of different races, bullies (unless, of course, they have siblings that pick on them!), swearing, authority figures, pop music and culture, immorality, etc. Do our children need all of these things to learn socialization skills in the real ? world? I would think that most parents are trying to raise their children so they can succeed in the real world, or the world of adults. In the real ? world, adults can usually choose their environments and thus avoid bad or immoral behaviors or situations if they so choose to.

Might our children be shocked when they first encounter some of the bad behaviors in this world? Maybe, but what ?s wrong with being naive? If you teach good values they will know what is right and wrong and how to stand up for themselves. If you teach your children to love one another, they will be able to get along with other people.

Most homeschoolers do not sit at home all day and avoid encounters with other people. Our lives are filled with church, scouts, activity days, neighborhood kids, co-op groups, park days, swim lessons, karate, and so on. Truthfully I don ?t even know why we call it homeschooling. There are times when it feels like we are never home!

The person with the best socialization skills I ever had the opportunity to know was a 15-year-old boy who was homeschooled. I knew him only slightly because I knew his mother. Whenever I called their house and he answered, I was always floored that I was talking to a 15-year-old boy. He was so amiable talking on the phone to me (a young mom) that I was seriously impressed. I am sure he learned these skills from his parents, who were also very sociable. Of course I have also known some very friendly kids who were schooled in the public school system. On the flip side, the most introverted person I have ever met was a girl I knew in college who was not homeschooled. She was very uncomfortable talking to anyone and every sentence started with ummm ? ? Granted, I have also met some very socially awkward homeschoolers as well.

The truth is that even though most people believe that your children must be in a school with other children to learn how to be socialized, most children are generally only as socialized ? as their parents are regardless of their method of schooling.

Which brings me back to my original point which is that children can learn to get along with others whether or not they are homeschooled or privately/publicly schooled. It is the parent ?s responsibility to teach their children proper socialization skills.

Sincerely,

Molly Mormon

{ 57 comments… add one }

  • alana May 1, 2007, 9:35 pm

    I want to print this out and save it in a brochure to hand out to anyone who asks me about socialization ever again!!! I especially would like to give it to those I love who do not understand completely why I homeschool.

    I am not a homeschooler who feels that all public schools are bad. But I do know that almost every person who meets my kids comments on how loving they are, and what compassion they have for others. I have not seen that in many children who are in public school. In fact, even in the church I have not seen that kind of compassion in those who are in public school. However, I think the combination of the church and homeschooling, my kids are becoming some of the nicest people I have ever met! (I might have a pride issue, btw)

  • Ice Cream June 29, 2007, 12:06 am

    I have had people compliment me on my childrens good social graces and then, upon learning that I homeschool, ask me if I worry about their ‘socialization’. All I can say is that I knew plenty of socially handicapped, nerdy, outcast, shy, obnoxious kids in public school, and I never witnessed the school doing anything to “fix” them or help them. This post says it all. It depends on what kind of family life they have, and what kind of person they are themselves. There are a large set of “socially awkward” kids in the homeschool arena but that is because many parents are homeschooling to remove their “awkward” kids from abusive situations (that the public schools couldn’t, or wouldn’t, “fix”).

  • facethemusic June 29, 2007, 8:44 am

    I had similar experiences. Right now I have kids is different systems. Two are going to public school, one is in a private school, and one is going to a state school.
    But I homeschooled for 5 years prior to that. My son didn’t go to school outside of the home until 5th grade.
    WHen I first started homeschooling however, I got the same ‘socialization’ stuff that I think every homeschooling parent gets. Mostly from my husband’s family.
    The funny thing is, all I had to say was, “Okay– you know all the kids in all our families– who’s kids are the least shy, the most outgoing, the most friendly, the most comfortable with adults, the most comfortable with young children, the most easy going and the most “social”?”
    That was always met with a “Touche” or “I guess that answers that.”
    My children were by FAR, I mean WAY far, the most social and well-behaved children of all the grandchildren, nieces and nephews. They make friends immediately, where ever they are, while some of my nieces and nephews cling to their parents and barely speak, even to their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
    When they entered the public school system, they WERE a little nervous, and there were a few issues they had to work with (dealing with the larger class) but they all quickly became the “leaders” of their perspective classrooms. My children, (and I don’t mean this to sound boastful), are complimented almost everywhere we go, and I’m not exaggerating. At church, at the grocery store, in a restaurant, even in theatres and playhouses. No matter where we go, they are generally the most behaved, and the most APPROPRIATELY social children around. I know that sounds horribly boastful, but I’m honestly not saying that of myself. Its what other say TO me, and I hear it second-hand from others.
    The point is, how children behave, how they socialize, or DON’T socialize is largely an issue of parenting, and parents’ personalities, not schooling. My husband and I are very talkative people. We’re very social people ourselves. So our children are very social.
    I HAVE known homeschooling families where the children were very timid, shy, even fearful in public. They were very socially awkward. But doggone it, so were their parents!
    Their PARENTS were shy, withdrawn from the crowd, always sitting in the corner of very back row at church.
    I remember one afternoon we were at a park, and I started chit-chatting with another mother who was sharing the bench with me. She asked what school my kids went to and I told her I homeschooled. She asked about the socialization thing, and I told her my theories about socialization/homeschooling/parenting, etc. In the meantime of course, I was keeping a head count of my kids and noticed what they were doing. It was the perfect opportunity. I said “Well- the proof is in the pudding.” I pointed to the kids– my son had gathered almost every single kid in the park and was leading them all in a live version of Peter Pan. My daughters both had the hands of littler kids in theirs, pretending to be flying saying “Think a happy thought!”
    So not only were my kids social, but they were intentionally trying to include others in their game and my daughters were (as they usually do) doing the mother/older sister thing with littler chidren. Alot of kids are only comfortable with kids they already know, or kids their age. Many 8, 9 or 10 year olds don’t want to be bothered with some little 3 or 4 year old (especially if it’s not even a brother or sister) — they find littler kids annoying and too “babyish” to play with. But my kids were including everyone. You can’t get much more social than that.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 29, 2007, 10:04 am

    Welcome, Ice Cream! Glad to have you here!

    I was an excessively shy, awkward, insecure kid who was public schooled for the duration. My homeschooled kids range on the extreme from shy and reserved to in-your-face-want-to-be-a-movie-star. I don’t know how or why. People are just different and it really has almost nothing to do with where they school.

  • SilverRain June 29, 2007, 12:14 pm

    I HAVE known homeschooling families where the children were very timid, shy, even fearful in public. They were very socially awkward. But doggone it, so were their parents!

    This is the number one reason I’m really pondering about homeschool, as opposed to just jumping into it. I make a good showing, but socialization is . . . difficult . . . for me. I would have to have some way of knowing that I could do it without maladjusting my children.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 29, 2007, 1:13 pm

    Sorry, Silver, they’ll be maladjusted ANYWAY! The more I think about this, that seems more and more like the truth. Going to school doesn’t fix it. In fact, I can’t think of any cases when it HELPED. Being in school just made me the target for daily torture, stupid stuff that I still struggle to overcome deep down.

  • SilverRain June 29, 2007, 4:19 pm

    As bad as it is, it may not be worse than being cooped up with me all day. :tongue:

  • Sharilee10 June 29, 2007, 10:18 pm

    I was an excessively shy, awkward, insecure kid

    You never cease to amaze me, Alison. I have a hard time imagining you as shy, awkward and insecure. You are SOOO put together! :-)

  • mollymormon June 29, 2007, 10:51 pm

    It’s true we do have different personalities, and I probably should’ve brought that up in the article. But I still say much of it comes down to the parents – the way they parent, and the example they set. And regardless of how the kids are schooled, all kids will do better if you parent to instill confidence in the kids, and set a good example. I don’t like to knock public schools either, but kids really can be exposed to some damaging behavior there (they could at the swimming pool or the park or in church or wherever as well.) The difference is that if the kids are being teased, bullied, whatever at school, they can’t just walk away – they have to keep returning. To me, that’s not real life. In most other situations I could think of you can just remove yourself from the situation – unless of course you are mugged or ganged up on. But personally I’d rather stay away from those situations too.

    Now, when I’ve told that to friends who are considering homeschooling (that socialization does depend on the parents), they say what you do, SilverRain – they aren’t that social themselves. Well, neither am I! But because DH & I knew that the kids will follow our example, we’ve made a real effort to become so. The kids see the example, and they do follow suit. And if not, we give them extra incentive to. ;)

  • SilverRain June 30, 2007, 5:31 am

    The problem is, Molly, I’m not sure how social I can bring myself to be. I’m trying, but it does have its drawbacks. Maybe I’d be more motivated if I weren’t having to be at work five days a week, pretending to like my boss.

  • Sharilee10 June 30, 2007, 8:14 am

    I am not a homeschooler, but my observation is that some of the most intelligent and well adjusted youth I have known are homeschooled. I’m sure there are probably maladjusted homeschooled kids as well. I have noticed that the homeschoolers in our area seem to get together with each other and do things as a group, etc. It is just a different type of socializing experience that they have, but they certainly are not being withheld from social situations.

    I don’t necessarily agree with:

    The difference is that if the kids are being teased, bullied, whatever at school, they can’t just walk away – they have to keep returning. To me, that’s not real life. In most other situations I could think of you can just remove yourself from the situation

    I would say that in school kids have as much ability to deal with a situation as they will in ‘real life’ when they go to work and just about any other situation I can think of. I guess I had never thought about it, but if anything that would be the concern to me I guess if my homeschooled children grew up learning to avoid unpleasant situations by just removing themselves and then never going back rather than learning to handle them in appropriate ways, which sometimes means removing themselves, but usually involves some follow-up action.

    From what I have seen, though, homeschooled kids do just fine, and in some situations really excel. I think it has more to do with the kids themselves, the family and the parents (and homeschooling methods used). There are good kids wherever you look for them.

  • mollymormon June 30, 2007, 10:58 am

    I guess that statement didn’t come across as I meant it to. I wasn’t advocating that you SHOULD always remove yourself from a situation you don’t like, I was saying that it is quite often it is simply not an option at school.

    For example, one of my school experiences was one where I could not remove myself from my assigned seat right in front of the extremely annoying boy who would bug bug bug bug. I tried every technique I could think of such as ignoring, witty comebacks, anger, talking to the teacher, etc, and yet there was simply nothing I could do about it when all those methods didn’t work because I was stuck right there in that seat for the entire school year. Alternatively, our next door neighbors are bullies. My kids initially tried to befriend them, be nice, talk to them, play wit them etc, but finally we realized that they are the type of kids that have no desire to be nice to our kids. So I told the kids to simply stay away from them, but if they do encounter them to be nice. They had the option to stay away when other options didn’t seem to work.

    Perhaps it is somewhat real life, as in situations like work. However, for work, you do have the option to change jobs, departments, etc even if it may not seem like it. But in school, you are pretty much stuck in the classroom for the whole school year, unless you move or your parents take a drastic step such as homeschooling you. :) As an adult you do have control over your job, as a kid you do not have control over your school.

    I also want to clarify that I’m not saying that homeschooled kids are generally better socialized than public school kids, I know very nicely socialized kids from both schooling methods! I just believe that having the option to avoid tormentors is quite a nice one to have if all else fails.

    SilverRain, my biggest motivation for trying to learn to become more social was my kids! I’m sure it would help if you weren’t at work with an unenjoyable boss. And I’m sure you’ll figure out what’ll work out best for you! I’m not trying to make you homeschool or anything, that’s a personal decision. I just wanted to point out that I had (have) that issue too, and we seem to be doing all right (or so people tell me!) ;)

  • Sharilee10 June 30, 2007, 7:44 pm

    I also want to clarify that I’m not saying that homeschooled kids are generally better socialized than public school kids, I know very nicely socialized kids from both schooling methods!

    I totally got this from your post, Molly. I was just agreeing.

    That must have been frustrating to have someone bugging you and not able to avoid him. I’m sure similar things happen to many kids and I wish there was a way to create a 100% socially safe environment for every student no matter where they are studying and learning.

    A little off topic— but maybe not really. I just spent the day with a final applicant for Principal at our Middle School. This has been a really significant interview process since we really do have a flagship school not only in Utah, but across the nation (we have won many state and national recognitions and this year we were 1 of 3 schools in Utah selected as a School to Watch. There are less than 100 across the entire nation). Our retiring principal was an award winning principal and has left a real legacy. Anyway— this wasn’t your run of the mill ‘let’s find a principal.’ It has been HUGE, and the decision made will have a strong impact on an entire community.

    Anyway– I just spent the day with one of the final candidates that flew out from Wisconsin to meet with the Search Committee and Superintendent. We went to Bear Lake and I took her around Logan and showed her the area. It was a very interesting experience to say the least– we had some great discussions on youth and their needs at a school. She also brought up the Mormon culture and had a lot of questions about that. I had the opportunity to send her home with a Book of Mormon and we will be communicating via email to answer other questions she may have.

    It was a good experience. I am exhausted at the early hour of 7:41 p.m., but hey– I am grateful for the many blessings I have and the many opportunities I have been given. I think we each are led in the direction we need to go in. And then . . . once we take a course we need to go forward with our hand in God’s and do the very best we can.

  • SilverRain June 30, 2007, 8:11 pm

    Well. lest anyone think I’m just making up my lack of qualifications, my husband has his reservations about my homeschooling our kids, too. Not homeschooling, my homeschooling. See? :wink:

  • Rachel June 30, 2007, 8:23 pm

    Silver, you wanna know a secret? I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I don’t particularly love public education, I see many, many problems with it, and I can see benefits to homeschooling. However, and here’s the secret: my husband doesn’t think I could homeschool our children, either, and neither do I. And really, I don’t want to. Others can call me lazy, blind, or crazy, but I don’t feel a need to. Yes, that may change after my kids enter the public education system, and yes, I know I probably could do it, I know, I know . . . I just want you to know, you don’t have to make excuses or feel like less of a mom in anyway, you’re not the only one. I’m right there with you. :)

  • Rachel June 30, 2007, 8:32 pm

    Oh, and one more thing to everyone else in this discussion:

    Homeschooling moms: You deserve a great round of applause! I’m amazed at all you accomplish every day. And I’m sure your children are receiving the very best education available.

    I have no doubts about the socializing issue. Public school does not teach social skills, and homeschooled kids are not isolated. Those are myths, sometimes perpetuated by isolated incidents. But I have seen both sides my only experience with homeschooled kids teach me what homeschooling can be, and what it turns into in the absence of good teaching.

  • Alison Moore Smith June 30, 2007, 10:37 pm

    Posted By: Rachelmy husband doesn’t think I could homeschool our children, either, and neither do I. And really, I don’t want to. Others can call me lazy, blind, or crazy, but I don’t feel a need to.

    OK, a rant from me here. First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever, in 13+ years of homeschooling, heard a homechooling mom even imply that someone who didn’t do it was lazy, blind, or crazy. Or even “lesser” than moms who do. Honest.

    But let’s be serious. Your husband doesn’t think you COULD do it? Now THAT is blind and crazy!

    First off, the degree has nothing to do with it. Most el ed degrees actually require little by way of CONTENT, which is really much more valuable in homeschooling than administrative, classroom management, etc. But for heavens sake, do you have a nanny right now? Are you competent as a mother? What magical thing occurs in kindergarten that has suddenly removed you from the ability to teach your children when they turn five?

  • mlinford July 1, 2007, 12:27 am

    First of all, I don’t think I’ve ever, in 13+ years of homeschooling, heard a homechooling mom even imply that someone who didn’t do it was lazy, blind, or crazy.

    FWIW, one of my first experiences with a homeschooler was about 12 years ago where my friend basically took the position that anyone who doesn’t homeschool will have children who end up in hell. That was my introduction to the idea! I’m grateful that not everyone takes such a position. :)

    I think that no one should have to justify their choice about schooling. I talked with a woman last nite who said she constantly feels criticized and judged for choosing private school. It’s OK to say, “I don’t want public school.” It’s OK to say, “I don’t want to homeschool.” It’s OK to say, “I think private school is my thing.”

    I’m sure everyone here agrees, but I still like to say it because I see too many women feeling like their own decisions or approaches are not legitimate and just like other topics, I want to just say “out loud” that this isn’t right. :)

  • facethemusic July 1, 2007, 8:34 am

    Alison, I know SEVERAL homeschooling moms who feel like parents who put their kids in public school are doing them a horrible disservice. These ladies DO think that public school parents are just being lazy, that they aren’t very involved or AS involved in their education as they should be, that they’re in denial of how horrible public school is, and that if they really cared about their kids safety, education, moral strength, etc, they’d pull their kids out of school and teach them at home.
    Believe me, when we decided to stop homeschooling and put the kids in public school, we got as many deriding looks and “aren’t you worried about ____” , “but what about _____ “, “are you sure that’s really the best thing”, “I’m just really concerned” kind of comments from other homeschooling parents, as we did from public schooling friends, family and acquaintences when we decided we were going homeschool.
    The socialization questions come from homeschooling parents when you put your kids in public school, the same way they come from public schooling parents when you decide to homeschool.

    “Aren’t you worried about all the cussing, the sex, the fights, the bullying?”
    “Aren’t you worried they’re going to pick up all those bad bahaviors?”
    “Aren’t you worried about the curriculum and what they’re going to teach your kids?”

    Whenever it came up, the insinuation was that we must not care, or at least, we didn’t care enough about all these things, that I was just being lazy and didn’t want to homeschool anymore.

    When I’d explain why we were making this big change, the responses always revealed that they thought I just wasn’t trying hard enough, that we weren’t being prayerful enough, that we were caving under the pressure, one person suggested that I was being lazy and just didn’t want to do it anymore and was putting my “music career” first. (The truth is, I did WAY more with my music when I was homeschooling then I have since we stopped. I don’t have TIME to do my music now.
    I did almost ALL of it WHILE I was homeschooling. I’ve only written 3 songs in the past 2 years. I wrote 39 in the 5 years I was homeschooling. )

    And to be clear, these were all families who are just “anti” public school. And I was NEVER anti public school. And as you probably know, there are families who homeschool because they’re anti-public school, and families who homeschool for other reasons. I just had other reasons.
    The families I know who were like me, not hostile toward public school, but just had other reasons to homeschool, did NOT have a problem with us deciding to “go public.”

  • Alison Moore Smith July 1, 2007, 12:10 pm

    OK, I’m duly flogged into submission. You all are right that there are people who are very judgmental about those who choose a different educational method. And now that you bring up specifics, I have heard it too, even read it in at least one book I can think of. In fact, you made me realize that I’ve even debated against a particular theory that uses Brigham Young quotes, etc. to “prove” that homeschooling is more righteous. So, many apologies.

    I just don’t hang out with those folks. In fact, let me tell you how I define homeschooling when I speak at conventions:

    Homeschooling is using the very best resources possible for every child in every subject.

    I go on to add that public school is a great resource when it’s not the only source.

    That said, I want to point out something else that these comments reminded me of. When you sit around with “public school moms,” often a great deal of the conversation has to do with all the difficulties they are having with schools, schedules, teachers, peer pressure, unfairness, ridiculous policies, etc. I don’t recall thinking these moms were crazy or lazy, but sometimes it’s really sad to me that they won’t even consider homeschool as an OPTION, even though it would often solve many of the problems they struggle with.

    Just as I was typing this, I recalled a discussion with a friend about six months ago. She considered homeschooling and felt it would be better for some of her children (she has a large, combined family). But she said she didn’t want to do it because she would have to give up her personal time when the kids are in school. This is more common than I imagined. Being unwilling to do what is best for your children when it’s possible could, reasonably, be deemed by someone to be lazy or selfish or something. Right?

    I have never, once, been asked, “What about academics?” And I haven’t gotten the, “What about socialization?” question more than three or four times in the past decade. But this is what I do get:

    “I could never do that. I don’t have the patience!”

    “How can you stand being around your kids all day long?”

    I know I’m not unique in getting those questions all the time. Just look at the covers of women’s magazines in the check-out line in May/June.

    Summer Survival Guide: What to do with your kids at home

    School’s Out: Making it through the summer

    But I do think those attitudes are meaningful with regard to how we see our children, the role we see school’s playing in our culture, etc. Don’t they? And, if so, what do they mean?

    So, in truth, I don’t have a problem with different educational methods. But I do have a problem with some of the reasoning BEHIND the use of the methods.

  • mlinford July 1, 2007, 3:14 pm

    Alison, I think the attitudes you talk about can be concerning (bearing in mind that headlines are always about getting attention. Note even some of the titles here that can come across stronger than the actually messages contained in the articles). :)

    It’s not the ideal to think of having children home as a burden. To rob one’s self of the joy of having children around by succumbing to the natural woman is sad.

    HOWEVER (and this is a big however), in some situations, it might actually be a blessing that moms are in tune enough with themselves to realize that homeschooling is not for them. I think for many of us, motherhood is a process, and it’s OK to realize that we aren’t perfect and to work with where we are, as long as we are striving to improve and not using our weaknesses as copouts and excuses to stagnate. There’s a big difference, IMO, between self-awareness and acceptance (in the arms of safety of the Atonement as we strive to improve) and self-justification (where we give ourselves permission and excuses to be less than ideal (in character, not in school choice!) :) and perpetuate our weaknesses by so doing).

    I also think, though, that sometimes women will say things like that because they want to find a reason to not feel guilty, even if there is nothing to feel guilty about. I don’t know if that makes sense. This to me is an example of a hedge that is created within the realm of stay-at-home motherhood. Somehow, there is this sentiment or perception by many that homeschooling moms are more ___________ (patient, responsible, caring, spiritual, dedicated, whatever). It’s hard not to want to find a reason that you aren’t a good enough mom to do that if it’s something you don’t feel pressed to do. I think sometimes it’s easy to believe you aren’t _________ enough to do something. The comparison game, esp. for someone who struggles with insecurity or even discomfort with someone else’s decision, can drive one to “prove” to someone else why one can’t do whatever Mrs. Wonderful is doing over there. Rather than rejoicing in what others can do and respecting others’ choices, those who are insecure can find themselves cutting themselves down in the process. Or someone who is uncomfortable with the idea of homeschooling can either criticize the person who is doing it (acting like you are crazy for staying home with your kids at home all day) or putting themselves down to avoid having to explain the real reasons they don’t homeschool. That’s my suspicion anyway, and it’s something I have noticed myself doing when I feel insecure or uncomfortable and want to deflect some of that discomfort and put it onto myself. (Am I making sense?)

    I also think that even though there are lots of issues with the public school system, homeschooling won’t be without its challenges. I really believe it’s not for everyone, and so it shouldn’t be something that women feel obligated to do. I do agree that it’s nice to know about the options, but I will tell you that being a public schooling mom is not always the lazy choice. Some of us may put up with the things we don’t like and yet have reasons that we choose not to homeschool (not that the option isn’t there on my brain and in my heart if we feel it’s ever the right thing to do). And it’s hard not to struggle when you run into passionate moms who want to imply that you are somehow failing your children. We need to be easier on each other in so many ways.

    I will say again that I don’t think anyone should have to justify their decisions about this topic. It’s like birthing decisions. Even if you don’t know about other options, that doesn’t make you a bad parent. (Another argument I have heard.) We do our best. Different people have different passions and talents and inspiration. If homeschooling and home birthing are for you, go for it! If not, that’s OK, too. :) It’s just too easy to generalize our personal decisions and passions to someone else, especially when we feel personal revelation confirming the rightness of what we are doing. But personal revelation is just that: personal. And I think the Lord can help us know if we are making mistakes if we stay close to Him. (I know I’m rambling on here…longwinded as usual, I am!)

    I also think that school systems vary a lot from place to place. I suspect that I would likely be homeschooling if we lived in our previous area (which will remain unnamed). But the schools here are at this point sufficient for my children, we do a lot at home to support what they are doing and to work in the mode of continuous learning (which to me is a key part of motherhood, whether or not you homeschool). Besides, my children enjoy it so far. They look forward to it, as did I all my growing up years (except maybe junior high). :) So, for now, this is where we are.

    The older I get, the more I respect and learn from the concept of homeschooling and like to implement things at home with my children, so keep the ideas coming!!

  • Alison Moore Smith July 1, 2007, 3:36 pm

    Posted By: mlinfordHOWEVER (and this is a big however), in some situations, it might actually be a blessing that moms are in tune enough with themselves to realize that homeschooling is not for them.

    I don’t give a hoot who homeschools or who doesn’t. But if a particular child, in a particular situation would be BEST served by a particular mode of schooling, then I do think a responsible parent would go to some length to secure that mode. Even if it meant that they had to learn to do something they weren’t inclined to do.

    Staying home with my kids instead of working was “not for me,” either. But it was the right thing to do.

    I do agree that it’s nice to know about the options, but I will tell you that being a public schooling mom is not always the lazy choice.

    Of course not, but it could very well be and I think for lots of people it is. Don’t misunderstand. I don’t go around worrying at all about who MIGHT be a lazy public school parent. The parents I know are generally responsible and thoughtful. But let’s acknowledge the fact that homeschooling, in most cases, is a bigger responsibility than public school and most people do not want to spend the time and money to do it when there is a relatively free (or at least pre-paid) alternative.

    That brings me back to the example I brought up. A family has some children who are NOT succeeding in public school, but they choose not to employ other (more difficult) methods BECAUSE it interferes with free time/hobbies/private time.

    FWIW, I do know one family in Florida who “homeschooled” for the same reason. They were too lazy to get up to get their kids ready and follow the school schedule. Suffice it to say that they weren’t model homeschoolers, either. (In fact, according to Florida state law, they were forced to send their kids back to school.)

    Posted By: mlinfordIf homeschooling and home birthing are for you, go for it! If not, that’s OK, too. :)

    It isn’t just about “you.” That was my main point. Sometimes doing what’s best for our children is uncomfortable and difficult and contrary to our preference. If it’s best for our kids to go to school, then they should be there if possible–even if we always “knew” we’d homeschool and worry about their welfare and don’t like the principal. If it’s best for our kids to be homeschooled, they they should be there if possible–even if we aren’t patient, think homeschoolers are nuts, aren’t sociable, or have no clue how to do it.

    We should, as parents, be open to what is BEST for our children and learn to adapt ourselves to make that happen as best we can.

  • mlinford July 1, 2007, 3:39 pm

    A family has some children who are NOT succeeding in public school, but they choose not to employ other (more difficult) methods BECAUSE it interferes with free time/hobbies/private time.

    Yeah, I understand what you are getting at. Parent-centered parenting can become a problem really, really fast.

    It isn’t just about “you.” That was my main point.

    I actualy meant to have that implied. Sorry I didn’t make that clear. If it works for your family, is right for your family, and all of that. :)

  • Sharilee10 July 1, 2007, 4:34 pm

    When you sit around with “public school moms,” often a great deal of the conversation has to do with all the difficulties they are having with schools, schedules, teachers, peer pressure, unfairness, ridiculous policies, etc.

    You need to come hang out with ME!! :-)

    she would have to give up her personal time when the kids are in school

    There are many angles on this and I agree with the intent on what most of you are saying. Even when you appear to be contradicting each other, you really are ‘intending’ to say the same CORE value of parents should be willing to do what is best for their children even if it requires personal sacrifice.

    There is a viewpoint that hasn’t been considered here. My children do well in public school and I have found that there is TON of benefits available to them THROUGH public school, and I know this because I am intimately involved in the public schools, have a personal relationship with the teachers and have earned their respect so that my children are invited and involved in many of these opportunities. Furthermore, I am actively helping to CREATE many of these opportunities, not only for my own children, but for everyone else’s children. I didn’t just take my daughter to Bear Lake, I took 20 other parents’ daughters and sons and provided them with an opportunity that could only be gained in that group setting. That opportunity was not available to homeschooled kids. I took 40 kids to the Legislature and provided an opportunity that they could only have experienced in that particular setting, I wrote and won an award that will provide 40 of our students with a ‘space experience’ with a group of like-minded student leaders that homeschooled kids would not be able to experience (they can go to the space camp— it would just be a DIFFERENT experience). I provide leadership opportunities and experiences to 60+ youth during the course of the year that they would only be able to experience as part of the public school experience (or private— but anyway— large group).

    I don’t point this out to say that public schooling is BETTER than homeschooling– just that it does offer some things that homeschooling doesn’t provide, just as homeschooling offers some advantages that public schooling doesn’t provide. I also don’t use myself as an example to pat myself on the back, but rather because I know of my own experience. There are many other parents actively involved in providing similar experiences for their students and other groups of students.

    The point is that some public schooling parents spend as much time with their children’s education as homeschooling parents (and YES, I know what I am saying and I do believe that I spend AS MUCH time involved in their education with them in the public school as homeschooling parents do). Perhaps most public schooling parents don’t, but I do, and I’m pleased with the experience it has provided for my kids. I know that they have a well-rounded education because they have been taught by teachers who have been trained and are experts in the fields of the subjects they are studying. I know that their needs have been met because I am intimately involved with my students, their teachers, their administrators, and am a key player in their educational experience. I also know that they have had the most incredible opportunities available to any student out there through their leadership, extracurricular, and the friendships and socialization that has taken place.

    Bottom-line– I am in agreement with the fact that each parent must make the choice that is best for them and their children, considering all factors and all circumstances; and the rest of us should NOT judge each other’s choices, ever, even based on what we may be saying to each other, because we don’t know all of the factors that play into the decision and what might be behind the ‘words’ we say to downplay, justify, or explain. Our role is to love, support, build and inspire with ideas, positive and upbuilding words, sharing of information and possibilities and then leave judgement up to the Lord.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 1, 2007, 5:14 pm

    I agree that some parents do spend a great deal of time involved with schools. That is why I said “generally” homeschooling is more of a commitment. From my own personal involvement with public schools (elected to School Advisory Council, PTA board member, room mother, volunteer (as recently as two years ago)), I’d say that the number of parents who spend that much time is easily in the single digits in most schools.

    That isn’t itself an indictment. The time simply may not be required by all parents to meet their needs. It’s just a fact that homeschoolers have taken on an additional responsibility that most parents don’t, just as most active LDS parents have church service responsibilities that many non-LDS don’t, just as city council members have civic responsibilities that most citizens don’t. That doesn’t mean one is wrong and the other right. But it does mean that the homeschooling parents were willing to do something that everyone isn’t willing to do.

    Still, it’s possible that the time/service/resources are used in EITHER mode to serve the parents and not the children.

    That opportunity was not available to homeschooled kids.

    I suppose this would be my only real point of disagreement with you. Of course, the EXACT opportunity would ONLY be available to the EXACT group of kids you engage in a particular activity with. In that regard, the opportunity isn’t available to ANYONE (homeschooled, public schooled, private schooled) who didn’t happen to qualify for any reason for your program. Outside of that, I haven’t seen anything I can think of that homeschoolers can’t be involved in if they choose.

    I’ve seen homeschooled kids in choirs, debate tournaments, dance troupes, chess tournaments, space camps, karate classes, ballroom classes, gymnastics classes, leadership training, government training.

    My oldest daughter had a lead in Godspell at Lehi High School two years ago. She won Lehi’s Pioneer Circle Award (given to only three students). She got a full academic scholarship to BYU. All the while avoiding taking AP Chemistry from the cheerleading coach. :) In other words, she got the best of Lehi High School for HER, while avoiding the dumb stuff.

    Oh, and I’ve hosted multiple events that had up to 65 homeschooled kids. (Yes, large group.)

    I’m pleased with the experience it has provided for my kids.

    That’s wonderful. I don’t think you’ll find an argument about it from anyone here. But what if you were NOT pleased and what if all your best efforts did NOT make a change for the better for you child. Would you consider changing to something that WOULD? That’s the only real question I’ve been addressing in this last go round.

    I know that they have a well-rounded education because they have been taught by teachers who have been trained and are experts in the fields of the subjects they are studying.

    Now that is another question. Don’t get me started… :surprised:

  • agardner July 1, 2007, 8:12 pm

    I have really been enjoying this discussion.

    I had never thought of homeschooling until my mission. In one ward where I served, they had an excellent co-op going. About 7-8 families in the ward were participating and some non-LDS neighbors as well. I was so impressed by these families that I always kept it in my mind that this is something I might want to do someday.

    In each ward I’ve been in, I’ve met incredible home schooling families (including Lauralyn Eberting who is a contributor here). Man, I learned a lot from people like that (and also got a little intimidated because they are so amazing at what they do). But I’m getting over that and gaining more confidence that I could do it and do it well.

    Now I find myself with a 3rd grader, 1st grader, and preschooler. They have been publically educated to this point. Mostly because I have been happy with the schools in the areas we’ve been so far, and I’ve been very involved in their schools and feel like I am making a contribution to their education. We also do some supplementing at home.

    I’m at a point now where I really want to do it (homeschool) and I’m just trying to work out the finances so that I can do that eventually. Due to circumstances, that won’t likely be this year. But I am really trying to pull it together so that I can start within the next year or so. It’s a long story…but I just have some things I need to work out first with the moola.

    Sharilee, I’m really tempted to start my mornings with “now that I earn over $100,000 a year…”

  • Sharilee10 July 1, 2007, 8:12 pm

    Now that is another question. Don’t get me started…

    I won’t, and . . .

    Would you consider changing to something that WOULD?

    I would.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 1, 2007, 10:39 pm

    Brava all around.

  • Lewis_Family July 1, 2007, 10:55 pm

    This topic has been quite an interesting read. I am one who went to public school my whole life… actually my mom did homeschool preschool, if that counts? Either way, I never had problems with kids, a few with teachers stepping out of the boundaries but upon meeting my mom they were put back in their place, and I thoroughly enjoyed school. I might fall under the freak and geek category for admitting that, but it is true. I loved, love to learn. I enjoyed every subject and loved the social part about school. I would ahve been considered a floater, I could run with any crowd and my circle of friends was quite variety filled. It helped that I went from playing sports, playing in the orchestra, I was one of the top students in my ASL class ( I was the one who signed the National Anthem and Pledge of Allegience at graduation ) I just was spread over so many different areas that I knew lots of people. So when I hear of horror stories, which I know they occur because I have sibling who went through some (don’t even get me started on Nebo school district :devil:) it makes me sit bak and think what am I going to do when my daughter is old enough to go to school. Glory my husband’s aunt wants me to enroll her in some preschool thing over in lindon already, and she is only 21 months! Seriously, I don’t even let her go to nursery yet I cannot even imagine school. I go back and forth, and don’t think I think that homeschoolers don’t get to socialize, I know that isn’t so because one of the girls I hung with and am still goo friends with was homeschooled and my aunts kids were homeschooled and my neighbor homescools her kids that go to your Keystone thing, so I know they get social, but that was one thing about school that I loved was the social aspect. Each hour a new set of people to befriend, another year another 8 hours filled with people to talk to. And then the teachers, they were so different and would present my subject sin such fun ways that you couldn’t help but enjoy learning, and each one did it in their own way, and I wonder if I could be able to that, does that make sense? To be able to give my children the differt twists and turns of ways to look at subjects that one recieves when they have teachers that devote their lives to that one subject. So yeah, I don’t want to deprive her of the joy and fun that I felt school held, everything from dances to games to committees and clubs but then it is so incredibly heart wrenching to imagine letting her go out in a world that is getting so more evil with each passing day. I have no clue what I am going to do, I joke that I hope we have enough money to send her to whatever school we want, but even then, it will be so hard to let her go. So that being said, homeschooling for me seems like the more selfish choice on my part because I would not want to let her out of my sight. But we will see, I am just glad that I have a few more years before having to cross that bridge. Sorry for the babbling, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the views in this discussion, it gives me thoughts to stew on.

  • mollymormon July 1, 2007, 11:07 pm

    Well, now that I’ve missed most of the conversation… :)

    I agree with Alison, that you should do what’s best for your kids, whether it be public, private or home school. I wouldn’t try to convert anyone to homeschooling, because it really isn’t for everyone (except that when people have talked to me who have considered it and have given reasons why they can’t, I will tell them reasons why they might be able to.) If you’ve thought about it and you feel that it’s something that might be good for your kids, you’ve just gotta pray about it. And yeah, that’s hard to do because you might not wanna hear the answer (and it still might be no.)

    I just wanted to add that so many people feel like there is only one option – public school – unless you are rich, and then you can private school. I just had a discussion with my bro-in-law. He wanted to know if I’d send my oldest to high school. I said I wouldn’t just send him, but help him come to a decision that we felt would help him out most, and if I could ensure that he had a good teacher. BIL said that was impossible because you can’t pick teachers. He gave the example that there are two algebra teachers at his school – one has a terrible reputation, and the other one a good reputation. What if I signed up my son, and he got the teacher with the negative reputation? His point was that then he was stuck. I said he wasn’t, because he could drop the class and find something else! That’s one lovely thing about homeschooling is that you can be flexible like that. And I refer back to Alison’s definition of homeschooling “Homeschooling is using the very best resources possible for every child in every subject.” If you don’t get the teacher that will be the best possible resource for your child, you can change. It’s the thinking outside of the box sort of thing. My BIL had never thought of it that way, and I would venture to guess that most people do not. He just figured if you’re stuck, you’re stuck.

    About the lazy part – In a way, I think I took the lazy way out by choosing to homeschool. When my oldest was in Kindergarten, I thought to myself that I’d be one of those super involved parents. Yet I found that the PTA was mainly a fundraising organization and I had no real say in what my kids were learning. And when I volunteered, I was either cutting or stapling, or helping the slowest children in the class. Not that these are not good things, but I wanted more control over my children’s education, and I didn’t feel like I would get that the way things were going. And I had no desire to be as involved as Sharilee is! It’s a great thing that there are parents as involved in public schools as Sharilee.

  • Sharilee10 July 1, 2007, 11:40 pm

    Lewis_Family– I’m wih you on the enjoying school part. I LOVED to learn and for the most part I LOVED school. A the same time, I had some really horrible experiences throughout Jr. High and High School. The thing is, I think living through them helped make me who I am today, for better or worse. I don’t know– I guess when I think about it there were some really horrible kids that were downright cruel— yet I wouldn’t trade the overall experience.

    Molly– There definitely are more options in public schooling than most people think, but it does take involvement and being aware of what is happening at the school to be on top of what is needed. I LOVE working with youth, so my involvement does as much to fill my bucket as it does for the youth. It’s a win/win.

    For the record– I have a great deal of respect for homeschoolers and a few of the neatest families I know homeschool. Of course, the rest of the neatest families I know public school. They both have great kids. There are many options and parents should explore them and find what works best for their family.

  • heather July 2, 2007, 1:41 am

    This is an interresting thread to read! I was an educator for a number of years. What I can add to being an educator is that being one …. I think… made me a better mother. :smile: I think anytime you SINCERELY teach to others, (being your own or others) and you have the right spirit and intentions, the other parties involved tend to get more out of it!

  • Sharilee10 July 2, 2007, 8:11 am

    Thank you for being an educator, Heather! I have a great respect and admiration for those who spend their lives teaching our children. I know there are some educators who are less than perfect– but for the most part we have excellent teachers here in Utah who are dedicated to kids and education, get paid far less than they are worth, and have a huge and positive impact on our youth, which blesses us all.

    Again– Thanks!

  • facethemusic July 2, 2007, 10:29 am

    What’s great is that both systems can be used. We homeschooled for the first 5 years, and now we’re doing public and private. (note that you don’t have to be rich to do private unless you’re sending several kids. My son is going to a private school. Tuition just went up to $450 a month. But the only reason we can send him there and can afford it, is because I took up a part time job which JUST covers the cost. Next fall, 2008, we’ll have to move or start homeschooling again, because my daughter will be going to the 6 th grade, but we won’t let our kids go to the middle school here, and we and we can’t afford to send 2 to the private school.)
    We sort of fell into homeschooling– it wasn’t anything I’d planned to do. But when they wouldn’t let my son go to Kindergarten because he didn’t make the cut-off date for turning 5, I decided to do it at home because he was SO ready to learn to read. (Plus- they’d decided that year that they were switching to all day Kindergarten, which I thought was way too long a day anyway, even if he HAD been old enough.) So when I started teaching him at home and saw how relatively easy it was, I began to add more and more to our ‘curriculum’. I found Five-In-A-Row, but felt like it wasn’t quite enough for him. He was soaking stuff up, and the FIAR was too simple sometimes. So I just added to the FIAR to get more in. I found some great resources online, stuff at Walmart, book stores, math-related games, we did a little more in depth Social Studies than FIAR provided, and little geography, just using the DK Children Around the World book, I found a book of science experiments you can do at home for $1 at our local dollar store- we took field trips to go along with what we were studying. It was really fun.
    Toward the end of the school year my sister-in-law, who was teaching 1st grade at the time, came over. She knew I’d been doing stuff at home and asked to see what we were doing. She was totally floored and said that I was teaching him 3 or 4 times the amount of material he would have gotten in Kindergarten. And he was reading at the “end of the year” level for a second grader. The amazing thing is, we were only doing “school” for 2 to 3 hours a day- whereas he would have been in Kindergarten from 9:15 to 3:50.
    We’d originally planned on sending him to school the next year, when he’d be “old enough” for Kindergarten. But I wanted to keep homeschooling. It just seemed like the logical thing to do. If I could teach him more, in less time, in a better environment, and I can control the content, why bother sending him to school?
    My husband wasn’t so sure and was skeptical. But when we prayed about it, even he felt like it was right thing to do, even though personally, he wasn’t too thrilled about it.
    As we went along and added the other kids to the mix, it got more difficult. But it was still working and the kids were doing well. After each year, we’d analyze. Do a little “returning and reporting” and after the 4th year, I was beginning to wonder if we needed to go public. There were several factors, mostly a disinterest and indifference on the kids’ part, (mostly my son) and a lack of competition and peer pressure (the positive kind) you get in a larger group setting. Like I said before, my kids are VERY social, and I began to feel like they needed a larger group setting, at least once or twice a week. But I wasn’t happy with the co-ops and homeschooling groups around here, and felt like their standards were too low. I also felt like too many of them weren’t homeschooling effectively, leaving too much up to the kids to do themselves without adult instruction – sort of a “here’s a packet, here’s a computer website- go learn” kind of approach.) So I was beginning to wonder if we needed to try public school, and see if would make a difference.
    Oddly enough, it was my husband, who after praying about it felt like we should keep homeschooling for another year. We should employ some new approaches, try a few other things, then we could re-evaluate at the end of the year.
    I was pretty surprised, especially since he was the one who wasn’t too thrilled about homeschooling in the first place.
    But at the end of the year, when things hadn’t improved, and only seemed to get worse,
    I was pretty confidant that we needed to go public. They’d been doing well academically at home, were far ahead of their peers, but they were losing interest, and had started to lose their lead. (Not that I wanted them to be “ahead of everyone”, but they were ahead because we were able to get so much more done in less time, because there were fewer kids, and because they were soaking it up. But they weren’t soaking it up anymore and were becoming resistent to doing it at all. Getting through the school day at home was becoming a battle. I felt like we were arguing more than we were learning. I was upset, the kids were crying, and I wondered why I was bothering, and how much they might have accomplished that day if they were at school. Their education was suffering and I felt like our relationships were, too.)
    We both prayed about it individually, and both had the same confirmation. And we figured, if it didn’t work, we could always pull them out and try homeschool again. Plus, maybe a year or two in public school would spark things up again for homeschool.
    I was a nervous wreck though. Worried about the transition from a 4 hour school day to a 7 hour school day. I also knew that they’d experience things they hadn’t really experienced yet.
    Kids see all kinds of behavior at the park, on the ball field, even in a primary class, but it’s another thing to be around it 7 hours a day 5 days a week. So I was worried about that, and the effect it might have on my kids.
    There were a few issues at the beginning, but they were worked out pretty soon into the year. And the amazing thing is, all the kids blossomed and flourished.
    So when they were doing SO well in public school, I had two voices in head. One saying, what in the world had I been doing wrong? What could I have done more to get them excited again? To get them to be more cooperative during school time?
    I felt badly, to tell you the truth. Like I was “fallen homeschooler”. Like I should have been able to do it myself. Other moms go all the way through highschool, why couldn’t I?
    But then I had the other voice, the one telling me “You did a pretty darn good job for 5 years, don’t be hard on yourself. You gave them a great head start, and they’re doing fantastically well in their education. THAT was the goal. The goal is being met. You met it for awhile, now the school is meeting it. You prayed about it and this is what they needed. This is about their well-being and education, not about YOU and your ego or about saving face with the other homeschooling moms. You need to do what’s best for your kids, not what makes you look like Supermom to everyone else.”
    But you know what’s funny. We were hoping to move this summer, in anticipation of our daughter starting 6th grade next year, and not wanting to send her to the middle school, but not being able to afford another $450 for private school. Then a few months back, I got called in the Stake YW presidency and have lost a large portion of my time to work on getting the house ready to sell. When they issued the call, I told them that we were hoping to move this summer, and they said something like “We knew that, and we took it into consideration when we prayed over your name. But you’re the one the Lord has called. So whatever it is the Lord thinks you can offer the girls in this Stake will either happen by this summer, or the Lord will keep you here until you accomplish it. ”
    Then last Sunday, my husband got called into the Bishopric. And they told him close to the same thing– pretty near word for word. Then my husband turned to me and said
    “Well Tracy, it looks like we might end up homeschooling again next year after all.”
    Oh, boy… :shocked:

  • Rachel July 2, 2007, 11:15 pm

    I had typed a partial thought earlier that I wanted to add to the discussion, but as I was typing, Isaiah (4 years old) came in, took one look at me at the computer and started to pout. He said, “I want you to be done on the computer, Mom.” Ouch. I’m obviously on here waaaay too much. He won.

    Now the children are long in bed, as they will be every time I come back from now on. And now I can’t remember what I was going to say, other than to tell Tracy that I appreciated her story. I can see myself responding in the same way under those circumstances.

    Ah, it’s coming to me! I have to say that when it comes down to it, the constant battle to accomplish anything in our home is what is stopping me the most from homeschooling. Isaiah and I butt heads so much in every aspect of everything we do that I know I am not the best teacher for him. His preschool teacher this year worked hard with him (as I’m sure she does with all her students, but I know there was special attention made to reach his rambunctious, social self) and elicited amazing things from him. I would make comments as to his progress academically at home, and she would time and again correct me to tell me he was achieving far more for her.

    And there were experiences that were difficult for him, and for me, but I think we are all stronger for him learning to deal with the “mean girls” (junior high in preschool, who knew!), as well as working out the best time of day for him to learn (which, as it turns out, is not the afternoon, the time he was assigned).

    There is also the serious consideration that I am clinically depressed. I may be well when my children are school aged, but I may not be, too. If it’s considered selfish to send them to public school because I can’t get it together enough to cover the basics, call me selfish. Personally, I think of it the other way around: my kids deserve more than what I can give them if I’m crazy and crying all the time. And while with medication and counseling I can generally hold it together, I think homeschooling would put me over the edge (uh, hours a day of just trying to get my son to follow my directions, that’s the stuff of nightmares!), which would not be a good learning atmosphere to say the least.

    As far as being “lazy” because you send your child to public school: it’s true. That’s why I said it. I don’t want to do it all myself. And I crave the days when my home will be quiet for a couple of hours during the day. But I would give that up in a heartbeat if I could do it better than the public school could, for my child.

    I love the idea of homeschooling, especially having enjoyed designing lesson plans and learning teaching techniques, and having seen the pitfalls and problems of public school. But I don’t think it will be right, at least not now, for my oldest child.

  • Rachel July 2, 2007, 11:22 pm

    Posted By: Alison Moore Smith

    But let’s be serious. Your husband doesn’t think you COULD do it? Now THAT is blind and crazy!

    First off, the degree has nothing to do with it. Most el ed degrees actually require little by way of CONTENT, which is really much more valuable in homeschooling than administrative, classroom management, etc. But for heavens sake, do you have a nanny right now? Are you competent as a mother? What magical thing occurs in kindergarten that has suddenly removed you from the ability to teach your children when they turn five?

    See the above comment about me being depressed. He does have serious doubts about the curriculum, which I think is funny because to me that would be the fun part! But mostly it comes down to the fact that we both sometimes seriously doubt my competency as a mother.

  • mlinford July 3, 2007, 12:27 am

    But mostly it comes down to the fact that we both sometimes seriously doubt my competency as a mother.

    All who have ever felt this kind of inadequacy, please raise your hand? Thank you, that’s what I thought.

    Just wanted to show you that you are not alone in these feelings, Rachel. Hang in there. Keep doing your best. God knows our hearts and knows our weaknesses and still sent us our kids anyway. :) Our weaknesses, as much as we hate it, are part of their journey as well as ours. Just as we can’t give up on them, we can’t give up on ourselves. Hugs!

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2007, 12:38 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about your depression. There are far too many people close to me who suffer so.

    Please note, though, that I do not think people who send their children to school ARE lazy. I just think they CAN be (and pointed out that I even know one family who “homeschooled” (which was really more fold-out-couch-with-popcorn-watching-cartoons) for the same reason). So, it’s something to consider. If our particular child would do better at home, and we could reasonably accommodate it, perhaps we should. Perhaps we should at least CONSIDER it. And if we won’t, we might want to at least be aware of our thinking on the subject.

    Rachel, your post concerns me. As Michelle pointed, I think feeling like a loser mom at times is almost universal. But your HUSBAND doubts your competence? Is that really because you lack particular skills or because he has unrealistic expectations and demands? (Of course, feel free to ignore if the questions are too personal.)

  • SilverRain July 3, 2007, 4:45 am

    I would venture to say, Alison, that her husband doubts her competency because of her depression. There is a world of difference between feeling like a loser mom and having genuine reason to doubt your own competency as a parent. (Of course, she can correct me if I’m wrong.)

    People often see depression as a mental illness and not as the addiction it often is. Therefore, they tend to want to treat it through medication and counselling alone and fail to see it as something truly curable.

  • Rachel July 3, 2007, 5:27 pm

    I’m curious, Silver, what you meant by your comment about depression as an addiction. Would you be willing to explain?

    Alison, yes, my husband worries every day when he leaves me alone with the kids to go to work. He thinks my bad days are seriously damaging our children, and will come home at the drop of a hat to make sure they do not witness me crying, and so that I don’t start to lose my temper (read: yell at a child) because I’m overwhelmed. There was no yelling in his home growing up, and it scares him silly when I react without thinking (which is a cause/symptom of depression–chemical imbalances cause nerves to fire incorrectly, slowly, or not at all, causing a person with depression to react in ways that a healthy person doesn’t, and the result is the person is sad and frustrated all the time at not being able to react to things the way a healthy person does).

    I don’t think it’s unrealistic for him to expect me not to yell at our toddlers, or to come home to a wife that isn’t a crying mess every day. I think it’s fair of him to expect me to do at least half of the parenting and housework, especially considering he works outside the home and I stay at home.

  • SilverRain July 3, 2007, 6:49 pm

    Rachel – I can try to explain. I have a theory that depression is usually (not always) an addiction to certain thought-patterns. Much like people can be addicted to adrenaline, the brain becomes so used to (or affected by) depressive messages that it produces more and more and the person becomes more and more depressed. Essentially, I believe that a depressive can be caught in a bio-feedback loop that causes the brain to produce more and more depressive chemicals the more depressive chemicals it receives (much as an alcoholic is addicted to more and more alcohol the more s/he receives.) This is an oversimplification, but I believe that if a person was treated for depression more like an alcoholic, pornography viewer or druggie was treated, the depression could be more easily treated. It’s a matter of changing thought patterns. Actually, your description “chemical imbalances cause nerves to fire incorrectly, slowly, or not at all, causing a person with depression to react in ways that a healthy person doesn’t, and the result is the person is sad and frustrated all the time at not being able to react to things the way a healthy person does” illustrates a little of the cycle I’m talking about. Bad chemicals=depression=more bad chemicals, and the only real way to permanently break out of the cycle is to break the habit (addiction) of bad thoughts and replace it with the habit of positive thoughts. This is one place I feel the “power of positive thinking” can help, though I believe that most books oversimplify the process in regards to overcoming depression. Sometimes, drugs can help a person snap out of the cycle long enough to gain control of it, but in such cases the drugs would be temporary.

    Obviously, there are likely exceptions to this rule where the brain or body is chemically malfunctioning, but I believe these are the exceptions and not the norm.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 3, 2007, 8:27 pm

    Rachel, I agree with your husband here. (It seems you do, too.) Have you been able to get any reasonable treatment?

    Silver, that is really interesting. I’m no psychiatrist (frankly, not that I think that should be impressive), but your thoughts make sense to me in many ways.

  • Sharilee10 July 3, 2007, 10:34 pm

    Silver, what you are saying goes right along with the quote my friend sent the other day that I posted in a different thread:

    We have emotions, but we are not our emotions. We are our thoughts. The discovery of neurotransmitters validates this idea. The body is run by thoughts. Immunity is boosted by Introdoxin 2. The stress hormone is cortisol. Two friends riding Harleys, one loves it, one is afraid of it. One ?s interpretation of the experience leads to better physical immunity because joy and exhilaration produce Introdoxin 2. The other ?s leads to worse health because his fear and anxiety produce cortisol. Their thoughts influence their bodies. Poor job satisfaction is the #1 factor in heart attack. Overall dissatisfaction with self is #2. If life is joyful for you, your risk factor is greatly reduced. Monday (another mental creation ?) is the most common day for heart attack. Stress does not exist in the workplace, in the home, or wherever. Stress exists only in the mind.

    The brain is the hardware. The mind is the eternal being. The external world does not cause your feelings. The thoughts are the cause. The feelings are the effect. Those who rehash negative things in their minds can cause depression. Sadness is a factor of life and should be in our life at times. But it should be temporary, a part of the cycle of life. To bring on depression, we choose the negative thought path. Ask yourself, Does this thinking lower my sense of worth? ? or Does it promote hopelessness about the future? ? If the answer to either is yes, ? you ?re dealing with a stage of depression and you are using distorted thoughts. (Mind-management is not enough to cure deep depression. Medicinal support, however, is not the solution by itself because it was not the cause. The thoughts were.)

    Great achievements come from great states of mind and great states of mind don ?t just happen they are created. That is, they are chosen and cultivated. Alma 29:4-5: I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience. ? Create a future in your mind, then live yourself into it! Do not use faith, the power of God, to create ineffectiveness by refusing to expect positive results. Organize your world in your mind as you want it, then live into it.

    As a Board Member for our local NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) Chapter, I also learned a great deal about the physical causes and challenges of depression, and I am certainly not saying that I believe people choose to create the depression. However, what this quote and Silver are saying make a lot of sense to me and I do think that people can at least have an impact on their depression– although I DO NOT believe it would be an easy process. I would imagine that trying to think positively when suffering depression would be one of the most difficult things we could ever be asked to do!

    Rachel — best of luck to you. I hope that you find a way to heal from the depression you have suffered in the past.

  • facethemusic July 3, 2007, 10:54 pm

    Silver’s explanation is a more scientific/biological explanation for what I’ve come to believe too– though I also realize it isn’t true in every case.
    I have a relative who was on meds for years. She’d been abused as a child by alcoholic parents, she found out that her husband had been molesting their daughter for years while she was working the night shift, then she divorced, then the same daughter became pregnant at 16. She raised the baby in her mother’s house, so grandma was more like a second mother than anything, and after having this grandchild in her house for 2 1/2 years, the teen went behind grandma’s back and gave her baby up for adoption. She kissed the toddler goodbye one morning on her way out the door, then came home to find out that she’d been given up foradoption. This poor woman had a million legitimate reasons to be depressed, and it ran in the family anyway. So for YEARS she was on meds and going to doctors, support groups and such.
    When she finally STOPPED going to the support groups and doctors and slowly weened herself off the meds, she became a totally different person, and hasn’t been depressed since.
    For sure, this wouldn’t happen to everyone who’s on meds, and I wouldn’t recommend that someone who IS on meds should just stop taking them. That could actually be very dangerous, and heaven knows, some people really do need them.
    But a lot of depression is a “thinking problem” to put it simply, and the way people react to horrible events in their lives. That’s why you can have two happy, outgoing people, who both get raped but only one of them ends up suffering from depression for the rest of their lives, which only causes them to make bad decisions, get into bad relationships, etc, while the other one shows no sign whatsoever of ever having experienced such a trauma. (In fact, it was only after having known this person very well for 23 years, that I ever even found out that it happened. And I NEVER would have guessed. She apparently DID talk to a Bishop, but she was able to learn to overcome her pain and move on, rather than dwelling on it, constantly talking about it and reliving it and letting it ruin the rest of her life.)

    I have NO idea whether or not any of this applies to you Rachel– just commenting on the topic.
    But one thing that I DID find interesting and that resonated with Silver’s explanation was this comment:

    I react without thinking (which is a cause/symptom of depression–chemical imbalances cause nerves to fire incorrectly, slowly, or not at all, causing a person with depression to react in ways that a healthy person doesn’t, and the result is the person is sad and frustrated all the time at not being able to react to things the way a healthy person does).

    And I know she used the same comment to illustrate her point, but I saw a connection in a different way, not a scientific/biological way.
    We ALL react without thinking. Completely mentally healthy people do this, often even. I do! So when I read your statement, I automatically thought “Rachel only sees herself as a depressed person.”
    Yes, you ARE someone who suffers from depression. But not everything about you IS the depression. Do you see what I mean? If everytime you do something HUMAN, you (or your husband) put in on the depression, then I can see why everything would be even MORE depressing. Because you’d constantly be reminding yourself all day of all your imperfections and “what a depressed person I am”.
    I too can understand your husband’s concerns if you really are having long bouts of crying every day. I can see how that could be confusing and possibly even scary to a child. But it also sounds like your husband may be overly sensitive about it too. Yelling at a child is not necessarily a symptom of depression or necessarily caused by depression. Maybe it’s a sign of a lack of patience, or frustration from expectations not being met, or maybe you grew up in a house where people DID yell when they were upset, so you simply picked up the habit.
    If over the years, people (including yourself) keep pointing out your faults (everytime you yell, lose your patience, cry, etc)and saying its from depression, then I can see how that would just make you MORE depressed, like a downward spiral. Not that you WEREN’T depressed, just that maybe it’s gotten worse because people are throwing it in your face.
    Does that make sense?
    We talk about this kind of thing with the young women all the time.
    What you think about yourself, becomes a self-perpetuating spiral, either upward or downward.
    We all make poor decisions from time to time. But a girl who doesn’t recognize her worth as a person, or as a daughter of God will make a poor decision, feel badly about herself, and continue to make poor decisions that pull her farther and farther away from recognizing her true nature as a divine child of God. The more bad decisions she makes, the worse she feels about herself.
    But when a girl who DOES recognize her worth and understands and has faith in the Atonement makes a poor decision, she still feels badly, but it’s godly sorrow that leads to repentance. She actually improves and betters herself, finding more and more of the divinity within, and in turn begins to radiate that to others, affecting THEM for good. In fact, recognizing one’s worth and place as a daughter of God will often stop her from making the poor decision in first place.
    Okay– I sort of went off on a tangent there, but the basic idea is the same. Sorry- I start to ramble when it gets late.

  • Sharilee10 July 3, 2007, 11:18 pm

    Actually, Facethemusic, you did a wonderful job of describing the law of attraction and power of intention:
    *That which we focus on we attract MORE OF into our lives.
    *What we THINK about (and thank about), we BRING About.

    I agree completely with what you are saying:

    not everything about you IS the depression. . . If everytime you do something . . . you (or your husband) put it on the depression, then I can see why everything would be even MORE depressing. Because you’d constantly be reminding yourself all day of all your imperfections and “what a depressed person I am”.

    Focusing on the depression will definitely bring more depression into one’s life. Again— I’m not trying to indicate that changing thought patterns would be easy under Rachel’s circumstances, but I do believe that if Rachel could spend LESS time worrying and focusing on the depression, it would be less severe and perhaps, in time, completely disappear. This is exactly what my friend who has been emailing me has been experiencing with her migraine headaches. Her first reaction to the idea was that migraines have physical causes and there isn’t much she could do, but she decided to give it a try. She told me the other day when we had lunch that her migraines have all but disappeared since we got back from NY and she started studying the law of attraction and power of intention and that the one time a migraine did start in the past month she was able to ‘stop it’ by changing her thoughts. What she thought she had no control over she has found she has a great deal of control over!

    Again– I don’t mean to make it sound simplistic. Controlling thought patterns during these difficult times is one of the hardest things a person will ever do. But I have seen them have a powerful impact for good.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 4, 2007, 12:01 am

    Let me tell you something else I’ve seen. I’ve seen people use medications for depression and–finally being relieved of the depression–they were able for the first time in years to refocus on other things. Having that cloud removed–even chemically–gave them a foothold that allowed them to climb out of the hole.

    FWIW, I don’t say that lightly as I generally think of medication as a last resort.

  • facethemusic July 4, 2007, 6:47 am

    Absolutely, Alison. That’s the whole POINT of the medication. The problem is that they’re often misued. The medication is supposed to help a persons brain chemistry function properly, so that the person can function on a healthy level, think clearly, perform in their jobs, get through the day, etc. And its THEN, when the doses have been worked out and the person is able to fuction with clearer thinking, that good and appropriate counseling and therapy, ( cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, rational self-expectations, problem-solving skills, how to go from a pessimistic view to a positive view), can truly help the person either completely overcome the depression OR at least be able to function on lower doses. The point of the medication AND the therapy is to get the person to a point where they can function on their own, in a healthy way.
    The same thing happens with ADHD meds– the most effective and lasting therapy should be behavior modification so that the person doesn’t have to STAY on the meds or can at least slowly lessen them. But too often, the person is put on meds and that’s all that happens.
    Boy– we’ve really gone off on tangent here, this should have probably been a different thread!
    And Sharilee– I totally agree about the positive thinking thing and the basic idea of the law of attraction.

  • Sharilee10 July 4, 2007, 8:39 am

    Amen to what both of you have said. You are both right on from what I have seen and learned.

  • Alison Moore Smith July 4, 2007, 4:52 pm

    I’m not sure what you mean, Tracy. While I have seen what I posted above, I don’t know that that is necessarily “the point” of medication. For example, with depression, I do believe that some people simply don’t produce enough serotonin. So, much like the diabetic who is functional only when the missing element is prescribed artificially, some may well never get off or even lower dosages on meds. I don’t think that is a misuse of medication.

    As I said, I see medication as kind of a last resort in many cases. But I also think it’s an incredible blessing and that people are SO different that each situation must be view fairly independently. I think we all want to be med free, but I know for some that really means being nonfunctional.

  • facethemusic July 4, 2007, 9:55 pm

    While I have seen what I posted above, I don’t know that that is necessarily “the point” of medication. For example, with depression, I do believe that some people simply don’t produce enough serotonin.

    Yes, you’re right. BUT, and I’ll have to check this, if I remember correctly, this is one of those areas of misunderstanding when it comes to depression. A low output of seratonin doesn’t cause depression. Depression causes low levels of seratonin. Seratonin is a reactive hormone. It’s released when we have a happy or pleasurable experience. Not the other way around. Again, I’ll have to ask my mother about this (she’s the head psych nurse at a residential treament center) but if I remember right, low seratonin is not a cause of depression, low serotonin is a reaction from and a symptom CAUSED by depression. In addition, if I remember correctly, the last study showed that most depression meds didn’t have any signficant effects on serotonin, anyway.
    But back to my statement.. I should have clarified that I was refering to most depression meds, not any and all.

  • mlinford July 4, 2007, 11:00 pm

    low serotonin is a reaction from and a symptom CAUSED by depression

    It can be caused by stress, stressors, and other things that could throw the body’s chemical regulation systems off balance.

    It’s also believed that there are some depressions that really are chemical to begin with. (Anyone ever experienced PMS?) :)

  • Alison Moore Smith July 5, 2007, 10:36 am

    Posted By: facethemusicthe last study showed that most depression meds didn’t have any signficant effects on serotonin

    Frankly, I’m getting so far beyond my expertise that I don’t think I have any basis for saying anything here. But this statement doesn’t make much difference in my opinion. For example, if hypothetically a diabetic didn’t create enough insulin to survive and we had no medications to produce the insulin, but we DID have a medication that could allow the proper function and sustain life WITHOUT insulin, then the fact that the medication didn’t produce insulin would not change the fact that the medication saved the person’s life.

    So, if someone has ANY chemical reason for depression–and the chemical reason cannot be cured or resolved–then it would not be inappropriate to use SOME means to allow the person to FUNCTION, even if it didn’t CURE them.

    I guess it’s like dialysis. I wouldn’t tell someone not to get dialysis since only a transplant would really cure them.

  • mlinford July 5, 2007, 4:38 pm

    Truth be told, they’ve never fully known how or why antidepressants work, but they often do, so, what can we say? :)

  • Lewis_Family July 6, 2007, 3:46 pm

    Dang, this thread got jacked all over the place :smile:

  • Sharilee10 July 6, 2007, 8:19 pm

    Yeah . . . it kind of left the homeschool topic didn’t it? Over the next couple of weeks I will be updating the National Education Network I created back in 1998. I would like to include a homeschooling section and I hope that the homeschoolers here will be willing to share your ideas on what would be helpful to you. I’ll start another thread when I’m ready to start actually doing something with the information. Right now we’re just in the planning stages–

    I just realized it’s getting really dark and I need to give my flowers a little drink since we never did get any rain. I’ll return in another thread somewhere . . .

  • heather July 7, 2007, 1:57 am

    This thread IS the twilight zone! but Sharilee, I would love to see your network. Please explain more about what it entails. And then you can go off on some tangent again like “why licking too many envelopes is bad for your health ” as to keep to the tradition of this blogging thread. :wink: I know I’ve gone off about three tangents alone in three different blogs. I’m such a bad influence in changing subjects.

  • heather July 7, 2007, 1:22 pm

    Sharilee, I didn’d mean that directly!!!! I was trying to be funny. My bad

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