On today’s episode, a listener asks:
I just listened to your latest “Unsocialized” podcast where you discussed how difficult homeschooling is. You also referenced an article about things homeschooling will not necessarily prevent. I agree with you completely. However, your kids seem to be fully on board with homeschooling, making your difficulties bearable. What about kids like mine who hate homeschooling–and I do mean HATE? My 13-year-old son doesn’t care that public school is terrible and private school is outrageously expensive (and filled with several who were kicked out of public school); he is only concerned with not being different from all his friends. I can easily see him rebelling if we continue to homeschool, and I can also see him being part of the wrong crowd if he were to go to public school. Any thoughts?
What do you think?
I said: Thank you for your question. That’s a tough situation. I’m just a dad trying to figure this stuff out myself, but I’m happy to share my thoughts. The first thing I would do is pray, asking Jesus what He thinks we should do. If you get a clear answer, go with that.
Now for my thoughts. It’s really hard when your kids see homeschooling as optional. I mean, when I was a kid, I hated school, but I went because I didn’t have a choice. If I couldn’t see a better way to handle this and I really didn’t see public or private school as options, I would tell my son (not in these words) to, “suck it up and deal. You don’t have a choice. It’s our job as your parents to raise you the best way we can and this is our decision. Now, we love you and we don’t want you to be miserable. How can we find a way to work together to make homeschooling better?”
Now, I realize that’s probably the toughest way to go and not likely to produce the happiest response. I assume you’ve laid a strong foundation of love and trust with your son. Without it, the ‘suck it up and deal’ approach will almost certainly backfire. Even with a firm foundation of love and trust, it’s a hard sell. Are there any options you may not have thought of? For instance, is it just that he wants to be in school or is he an extrovert that needs to be around people? Perhaps a homeschool co-op or other groups would provide enough social interaction. If there isn’t a co-op near you, you could consider starting one. Since he’s 13, he may be ready to take a more active role in his life. Even if you don’t really give him any authority or power, it may help if he feels that he’s involved in the process of deciding what to do. I would definitely try to talk through it with him and see if we could come to a solution together first. Maybe there’s another option besides the way it’s been or school. Don’t be afraid to get creative. I’d try everything possible before I either put him in school or tried the ‘suck it up and deal’ approach.
Have you tried throwing out the curriculum you’re using and looking for a new strategy for home education? Maybe a change of style would be enough of a difference without dumping homeschooling altogether.
Another idea would be to try public school for a semester. He may decide he hates it pretty quickly. On the other hand, it may turn out to be a better option than you had thought (There are days I’d really like to stick my kids on the bus and have some time to myself ;). I personally tend to demonize all public schools, but they’re not all evil.
I’m not sure I’m helping much. As you already knew, this is your decision. If it were me, I’d be agonizing over how to guard his heart in this process without letting him take advantage of and manipulate me. I’d also be looking for options we hadn’t considered yet. Does that help at all?