POPPING OUR BUBBLES
We our going on our fifth year of homeschooling. I still learn new things every year, along with the girls. The things I think I learn are usually my parenting. The perception of homeschoolers, is that parents shelter their kids. Most think that the parents want their children in a bubble. While this may be true for some, my husband and I aren't those parents who shelter our kids. I won't apologize for that. Are we going to throw them out to the wolves? No! Do they know a lot more than they should about this world, probably so...because we don't hide the ways of the world.
I find that we may choose the "unpopular" way to parent among our homeschool peers. You see, I want my children to come to me when they have a question or hear something new. Back in our home town, my oldest daughter had plenty of public school friends who would come to her about things that I know, I didn't know about when I was her age. One of her friends would talk about another girl cutting herself at school. While this is difficult to hear, we talked about it. I would rather her come to me and talk about it, than wonder and curiosity grow to where she is doing it. My oldest also learned about sex at the age of 10. This is younger than a lot of other kids, from what I hear from other parents. She actually learned it from some teens at church (of all places). She came to me and we talked about it and I let her know that this was a conversation that didn't need to be talked about with other kids her age then. But the fact is...she came to me. That's what I want. It's not just about talking about these "private" matters. Its about the open relationship she has to talk to me. From that, little things arise to where she usually always feels comfortable about talking to me. I know now when my 12 year old has friend troubles, peer pressure, and even had her first kiss. Yes, I know...12 and had her first kiss. That first kiss wasn't really anything by the way...it was like an elementary school first kiss and they walked away not knowing what to say or how to act (its actually quite funny). So my children are young, but they know about homosexuality (my youngest met a friend with two moms and we loved them). They know about sex, they know about drugs, they know about suicide...they know a lot more than I ever knew as a child. They are far from in a bubble.
Kids will be kids. I have said this from probably our 2nd or 3rd year of homeschooling. We met a parent or two that thought their kids were perfect angels sent from God unlike any other child. Parents of these perfect angels would judge mine and try to tell me how to parent. In reality, the assumptions that a parent would make on my child (and would try to pass as their kids' problem with my child) were only assumptions from their adult mind in how they thought something should have been said. My children are children...they aren't adults yet. Adults still can't learn to bite their tongue...so you think a child is going to learn so early? My oldest does like to say everything that's on her mind. She thinks it, she says it. She's not quite learned how to hold her tongue. She gets excited and starts talking. She talks to much (like myself). At the age of nine, she was excited about something that she did and was telling a friend. So the mom brought her home, saying she was bragging to the other little girl about something she had done. My daughter was 9 years old. There was NO malicious intent there. It was the adult who made a problem out of it. My youngest doesn't know how to deal with her anger. She doesn't use her words very well and so there was a time she threw a pine cone at a boy on a playground. Do I just let her get away with it? No! Of course I try to deal with the situation as best as I can. I parent my child. I don't scold the other child who may have thrown one first or said hurtful words to anger her, I deal with mine. Kids are kids! Do I get mad at the other child? No! Kids are kids and yours can act up, just as mine does. I have learned through the years that little bickering with other kids will happen. Unless there is someone bleeding, they can work through it. I have learned that if mom to mom gets involved, it turns out worse. Let kids be kids and work it out. The next time they see each other on the playground, all will be well. If mom to mom get involved, it may never work out because there are too many personal feelings involved. I've learned to try not to let Mama Bear come out. I will always go to bat for my daughters, but any little petty things between friendships...they gotta figure it out. This is REAL LIFE! Mama isn't going to be here to step in when they are older and dealing with friendships on their own. Now, I will talk about their friendship woes all day long, but just with them. That's the key - WITH THEM, not the other kids, or not the other parents of the kids (unless the kid is making my kid bleed). I will guide them in how to handle situations with their friends, but its not my job to "shelter" and make everything better.
My kids probably know every cuss word in the book. Yep...you heard me right. There are PLENTY of movie nights that we have as family time. We don't keep it to G and PG movies. As I was growing up, my parents allowed me to watch most any movie - unless it was rated R. Now, I know that rated R today, isn't the same as when I grew up. However, I do remember watching movies with language in it. I watched it and amazingly enough....I DID NOT grow up with a potty mouth. That's right! I could hear it and ignore it. We tell our girls, you can watch it, but as soon as you say it - you don't get to watch these movies with us anymore. Well, its worked. I don't do ear muffs over the kids ears. They watch and have learned like me, to ignore it. Why do I do this? Well, we go out into town and there are teens who aren't respectful and will have a potty mouth, which can sometimes be loud. My kids will hear it. My kids will probably have friends later on in life that may speak that way. Does that mean they shouldn't be friends with them? Should I teach them to be unkind and shun people that don't speak the same way they do? Absolutely not! These things make my kids think. What makes a cuss word a cuss word. We've had these discussions many times. I always just tell them, that we want to be classy ladies and not speak like that. It sounds uneducated and un-classy. Will I get mad if they grow up and stub their toe and a word slips out? No! Heaven forbid they be like most of the population today. You can be the holiest person and a word slip out...I've seen it. I just tell them that it is disrespectful to speak like that. Anytime that we do see loud teens that are saying a word in every sentence...I ask how it makes them feel. It makes them feel uncomfortable and mad. If there are other smaller kids around, they feel sorry for the other smaller kids that don't know the words and are hearing it. So its a matter of just respecting others that are around to hear what you say.
Speaking of shunning people...we don't do that. Muslims are a big topic in the United States right now. Well, we have Muslim friends. We love love love them dearly. We have Muslim (Islamic) friends, Christian friends, Atheist friends, and Mormon friends. Many people won't follow Christianity today because of the hypocrisy today. They are so busy trying to steer away from other people of other faiths or other ways of life. Why? Are you not strong enough in yourself that you are scared you will become Islamic if you talk to a Muslim? Well, that shows me more about you if that's the case. I do not agree with the Islamic religion at all. However, I do know that if you take away the religion differences and just look at them as friends - they can be the best. We recently just moved away from another state and a lot of my girls hometown friends aren't contacting them as much, but their Muslim friends have shown them the most love. They have been in constant contact and constant letter writing back and forth. So you may ask, "What do you teach your children?" I honestly hate religion. My family and I no longer attend church. I refuse to do the opposite of what Jesus would do. Jesus didn't hang out with the rabbis of the church. He walked and talked with the sinners. He just loved! I teach them LOVE. I teach them that we are all different, with different personalities, and we do things different in our own families. I just want them to love and accept. To me, acceptance is loving. Acceptance doesn't mean you agree with something, but you accept the person for who they are. My kids know a lot about these different religions...my oldest daughter is like me and truly interested in learning about the different religions. I want her to search for herself. I encourage it. I grew up believing what I had been taught...and this is another topic, but what I have always been taught isn't what I truly believe now after actually researching and trying to find truth myself. The Mormons raise their children to seek out truth themselves and I like that! I have a Mormon friend who has always encouraged me to seek out the truth for myself.
Here's my last thought. I have met some adventurous friends in our journey. They have challenged me and my kids physically that I never thought I would do. I was the parent once that wouldn't let my kids do anything that could involve having a broken bone. I was the parent that had a competetive swimmer as a kid. So if she broke a bone, it would be all over. These friends pushed me as a parent to let my kids enjoy life and learn lessons on their own. I remember a year or so ago...one of our last hiking trips with these friends, we let our kids climb a waterfall. I remember feeling so terrified inside, because this was out of my comfort zone. My mom friends were experienced at this and so were their kids. Truth was, I was DYING inside. I think they probably knew it, but I let my kids do it with their kids. We watched and they accomplished it - safely. They problem solved with getting up and getting down. They did this on their own. There were many other occassions and obstacles that this same scenario happened. I would be out of my comfort zone, but I was pushed to let them go a little bit. The older they get, I have to let go a little bit. Have they learned lessons on the way? Yes! There was a time, I told them they shouldn't do something and then my oldest did it anyway and she fell. She got hurt. She's never done it again. Did anything brutal happen? No! The best thing did happen though - she learned a lesson. She learned life! I don't want to shield them from real life. The thing about homeschooling is, we are living life in the real world. They do have a lot more real world experience other than living 8 hours of their day sitting behind block walls. My husband and I choose to not put them in a bubble. We choose to be let them them learn this way. This may not be the way for everyone, but its our way. So, homeschool mama, may my child be a little more educated in adult things more than your child? Yes, they may. This is how we choose to do it in our family. May my child have no fear? I can tell your for certain, they do. It's also because of that no fear that drives them to learn new things. My daughters are talented. Their "no fear" attitude is what drives them to learn more. They have self taught themselves to tumble. They know more gymnastics than a beginner gymnast. They know aerials and back tucks because of their "no fear". They accomplish more, because we allow them to learn outside of the bubble.