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David Castillo Dominici- FreeDigitalPhotos.net
And it has to do with one of the main arguments I get as a homeschooler, an unschooler specifically, especially once people hear that one of the biggest things that draws me to homeschooling is that I feel it is the safest environment for me to raise my children in, from an emotional perspective. They aren't thrust in social situations above their emotional and mental capabilities and left to fend for themselves, taking their cues from the pool of kids just as immature as they are, about how to relate to others, especially when it comes to bullying, whether from classmates, schoolmates, or even how to deal with teachers that may do things that are bordering on bullying if not outright bullying. (And in case you think teachers don't bully... my husband has stories that would make your hair curl, about bullying both from teachers and principals, from as young as first grade.)
When kids are constantly stressed out by an environment that doesn't feel safe to them, an environment in which they are continuously on guard because they are afraid of getting attacked, either physically, verbally, or emotionally, they can't be receptive to learning as much as they could in a safe environment in which they can relax and open their mind to the multitude of information in the world around them.
I truly believe that by keeping them in a safer environment when they're younger, they grow up to be self confident, happy individuals, who are able to handle what life throws their way when they are older. This goes hand in hand with attachment parenting, whose motto is that when you allow your children to cultivate strong attachments to their parents from birth, and don't force them to grow up before they are emotionally capable of it, they end up being more independent in the long run, because they feel emotionally secure enough in their relationships with their parents that they aren't afraid to venture off on their own and be independent. (I can see from my 7 year old, who, though I raised him with attachment parenting, is super independent, much more so than most 7 year olds I know- and it isn't just my perception of him- I've gotten such comments from others about him.)
But the usual response I get from people when I explain this idea to them, of raising them in a safe environment until they're emotionally mature enough to handle tougher situations with confidence and maturity, is that the world is a harsh place, full of nasty things and people, and to manage in life you need to know how to deal with unhappy situations and things not going your way, and not expect the world to always revolve around you. Or basically "Life sucks, so you better get your kids used to that early."
I get this all. the, time!
Its like people think that if my kids are homeschooled, they never have to deal with disappointments or things not going exactly their way.
Well, let me put it this way- I have 4 kids. They don't get their way all the time. It is simply not possible. They have 3 other siblings to deal with, who fight with them, take things from them, frustrate them, etc... Its not like they are treated like royalty and never have to deal with disappointment!
And even if they didn't have siblings, there are kids on the playground, and my husband and I don't pamper our kids or let them walk all over us, getting their way always at the expense of our feelings, needs, and desires. Disappointment and frustration is a part of life, whether homeschooled or not.
The difference is that I believe that the ideal is for life to not suck. And that if you push a kid too far before they're emotionally strong enough to handle it, they don't get tougher- they break. But if you build them up first, they have the emotional fortitude to deal with whatever hardships life throws their way.
I try to be on top of things, and when my kids are in situations that are tough for them, I keep an eye out. If I see things are going too far, I'll intervene if I see the kid isn't able to handle it. Unlike in school where kids are often bullied to the point of committing suicide, or even if not that far, to depression. My kids are growing up strong and tenacious and self confident, and therefore when hardships come their way, they are more equipped to handle it, because they have inner strength that comes from knowing that they are good, capable, lovable people who are resilient and able to handle anything that comes their way. And I've gotten compliments from other people who've noticed this about my kids.
I mention that real life is not like school; that in real life, if you're being treated badly, you have the ability to walk away, to remove yourself from the situation, and not be isolated with the same group of people you can't stand, day in and day out, until you graduate high school.
Then people say "What about work? People often have bosses and co-workers they don't like and jobs in which they have to do things they don't enjoy. Teachers and classmates that treat them badly is good preparation for the real world."
And here's the thing. When it comes to work, I think the same thing applies. I do think that we should be raising our kids to not take nastiness from people and be stomped all over. I don't want my kids to learn that its ok to be bullied, so that if they have a boss or co-worker that bullies them, they'll just let themselves be stepped upon. No, I want my kids to know as adult that they don't have to put up with that, that they don't have to let themselves be taken advantage of, that they don't have to let people hurt them repeatedly, and if their bosses are unreasonable/impossible, they can and should either stand up for themselves or quit. This isn't to say that they'll always like everything their boss or their co-workers do, and that they shouldn't learn to be accommodating when things don't go their way- as I've said, that's part of skills my kids learn simply by living in the real world, especially since they have siblings and friends with needs and feelings that differ from their own. But when things cross the line, when things get to the point where it is actual bullying in the workforce, I want my children to know that they don't deserve to be treated that way, that they have a right to demand to be treated respectfully, and look to improve their situation instead of just taking it in and suffering through that.
I know some people are in such desperate situations financially that they need any job that will take them, but I am doing my best to raise my kids to pursue their strengths so that they'll develop their natural talents so that they are employable and have their pick of jobs and aren't so desperate for a job that they'll take ones that treat them terribly.
I think some of the people who are the most critical of my homeschooling, who think that I'm mollycoddling my children instead of preparing them for the "real world" are people who have had a really hard life, and assume that everyone's life will also be just as hard, that an unhappy life is inevitable, and I should prepare them for their future hard life by making their life as hard as possible from as early an age as possible.
I don't believe that is the case.
I try to raise my children with a good attitude, with the knowledge that life is what you make of it, that while you can and should find the good in tough situations, they should do what they can to try to improve their live and make their life as good and happy as possible, instead of raising them to expect to have a life of misery and hardships and not try to change that.
I know, controversial... But hey- what's Penniless Parenting without a bit of controversy, eh?