Thursday, February 2, 2012

Those Weird Homeschooled Kids

I really liked this article after I read it yesterday. It was the kind of article I couldn't help but think about throughout the day. I was happy to see homeschooling get some positive recognition, but the end just didn't quite sit right with me.  

This morning I pulled it back up and re-read the conclusion and some of the comments. I don't like the article today as much as I did yesterday. The more I think about it, the more it seems like a veiled barb. I feel like the author is saying, "Look, I found our generation's version of the yuppie! Aren't they special?!" I feel marginalized. It's like she figured us out so now she can put a stamp on us, dismiss us, and file us away. Her ending was just off-putting, however. The comments pretty much ruined it for me. So much judgment out there.

Look people, just because you can tell me about one strange homeschooler you knew when you were growing up does not make your argument that "homeschoolers are weird and socially inept" airtight. I knew a homeschooler when I was teenager too. I thought she was a little odd too. 

Time and distance has allowed me to open my eyes though. It turns out she wasn't weird; she was just way more mature than me and my friends. Despite being a year or two younger, she was just as comfortable in a room full of adults as she was supervising a room full of kids. She didn't feel the need to emulate her peers. She liked doing things outdoors and didn't much care for TV or popular music. I didn't relate to her. She was nice, but weird.

Now we are Facebook friends and guess what? She lives in Bucharest. She went to college in Spain. She majored in marketing. Her life looks fantastic, exciting, and not one bit weird. Not to mention she looks beautiful and is married to a cute Spaniard.

But maybe you are thinking to yourself, "Well I don't know anyone like that. The homeschooler I knew sat outside eating dirt and talking to himself. So there, Miss Know-it-All, I even know how he turned out and he is officially Weird. Capital W -- Weird. That's what really happens to kids that homeschool."

Okay then try this on for size? Ever hear of Asperger's syndrome? High Functioning Autism? Sometimes weird kids are born that way. People with Asperger's get married, have kids, find careers, but never quite figure out how to stop being weird. Schools weren't equipped to handle kids like when I was in school (and that was only 15 years ago). It didn't even have a name when I was growing up.

So what if those parents that homeschooled their weird kid just maybe spared them from a childhood of frustration, bullying, and constant social nightmare? We are going to dare judge them for that?! Even without an official diagnosis, some people are just weird. They have to spend their whole lives learning to cope with that, so please stop judging them and condemning their parents for trying to help.

How about this: let's just stop pretending we know what's best for other people's children altogether. Whether it's breastfeeding, schooling, video game playing, or whatever else makes you feel all superior to the unwashed masses. You are not going to change anyone by criticizing them -- and you might just make an enemy if you criticize someone else's kid.*

The nurses in the hospital tell you the day your child is born that no one will know your child better than you. They urge you to trust your instincts because they know a parents' natural instinct is to love and protect. So all of a sudden that's bad advice if the parents decide to homeschool?

Let's try having some faith in people and let them make their own decisions.

*I get this might sound hypocritical coming from a blogger who is preaching the merits of clean-eating and homeschooling. But if you are reading this it is because you were looking for this sort of information and found me. I think everyone should know the facts about these issues, but once you do, feel free to make your own choice. I won't judge you.

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