February 2, 2004

Turning the "Socialization" Issue on It's Ugly Head... I think I am going to print out this wonderful article that darby found and hand it out every time I get asked the "socialization" question.

I also have added Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Matter by Gordon Neufeld Ph.D., and Gabor Maté M.D. to my reading list. Finally someone is doing a great job articulating why kids should NOT be socialized in the way everyone is afraid they miss out on when homeschooled.

From the article:

"For the first time in history," declares Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Matter, "young human beings are turning for direction and instruction not to mothers, fathers, teachers and other responsible adults but to people whom nature never intended to place in a parenting role - their own peers."

The book by two Vancouver specialists - clinical psychologist Gordon Neufeld and physician Gabor Maté - says this Lord of the Flies sort of upbringing has lead to a breakdown of the traditional family, seeded society with unruly schools and propelled eruptions in violence among teens.

"Our children are not manageable, teachable or maturing because they no longer take their cues from us. The result is that children are being brought up by immature persons who cannot possibly guide them to maturity. They are being brought up by each other."

I'm sure many of you have seen it - I am even starting to see it in Rhiannon. There is a major difference in the way children interact and play with one another when there is a parent present versus when there is not. After she has been around kids in a big group setting I always find myself having to reclaim and reestablish my authority in her life. Kids want so much to please the people around them, kids and adults alike. But kids don't foster that in each other, very often the opposite can occur.

Also from the article:

And, they argue, children raising children can have devastating consequences.

"Absolutely missing in peer relationship is unconditional love and acceptance, the desire to nurture, the ability to extend oneself for the sake of the other, the willingness to sacrifice for the growth and development of the other," they write in the book.

We need to give our kids that security net and help them develop healthy relationships and friendships while still maintaining the authority roles that are rightfully ours. Parents need to take responsibility for raising their kids or kids will look elsewhere. We can influence the role models our kids follow. Do I want Rhiannon to look to me or to her 5 year old friends to teach her about what is good and bad and what is important and acceptable behavior in life? May seem obvious - but somewhere along the way it gets mixed up and parents begin to see the shift from parent to peer guidance as a "normal" part of life.

So I will take the criticism in stride. I'll still rattle off the list of activities and interactions my kids have with other children (kids their age, older, younger, and adults) to show that homeschooling doesn't mean cut off from other children but now I will probably add these arguments to my arsenal. Perhaps I will print out copies of this article to have with me like I used to carry a copy of the state breastfeeding law with me for criticism when I nursed in public.


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