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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


The crappy, cold, sunless month of February marks the halfway point of our first official year of homeschooling Belly.

When I contemplated starting a blog, I thought it would be a "homeschooling blog" in that I'd write mostly about what projects, lessons, classes, etcetera I was doing with the kids. I couldn't do it. Writing about what the kids were learning did not excite me enough to sit up late at night tapping away at the keys (apparently writing about toilet troubles , Elton John and giant wieners does).

And yet I think about homeschooling a lot. I think about how I'm teaching different subjects, how Belly compares to her peers, our balance of homeschooler-only activities with more "mainstream" activities and how we present ourselves in public.

That last point? I think about that a lot. Because, even though there are a lot of families who have chosen our method of education in this area, we are still the minority. And there are a lot of stereotypes about us.

After watching the above "spoof", read this, from a press release for an upcoming edition of Wife Swap:

. . .the (family) are born-again Christians who interpret the bible literally and use it as a guide for life. In the . . . family constitution, God comes first, husband. . . .comes second. The family have to serve God at all times with a cheerful heart, and they follow the words of scripture to the letter. L. . . is a stay-at-home mom who home schools her (6) children. C. . . is an ultra traditionalist father who is head of his household and calls himself the "gatekeeper," setting the rules, enforcing discipline and expecting cheerful obedience. . . As for the girls, (Mom is) training them to be stay-at-home moms who will live out God's calling in marriage and motherhood. Dating is not allowed for any of the children. Instead they pray daily for God to send them a spouse when the time is right. L. . .is happy to be her husband's "help-mate," and says that women are the weaker link. The children feel it's ok to be at home as they feel safe, sheltered from the corrupting influences of the outside world.

We don't fit any of these stereotypes (ok, we don't take the kids to Hooters, but that is about it). And, yet, when people first hear we are homeschooling, I have experienced all of these reactions this year:

1. A neighbor said, "Oh, my sister-in-law homeschools her kids but they are really weird and nerdy."
2. A mom from town said, in surprise, "I've never met anyone of You before!"
3. Another woman in town, with whom I was making small talk at our local ice skating rink, turned her back to me, apparently unable to find anything more to say to me.

It is important to me that people see me as a strong, independent-minded woman who wants her children to live "in" this world, not sheltered from it. Who isn't trying to raise brain surgeons who graduate from college at 14.

I want people to see my kids and think, "gee, nice kids!" and not, "geeks" or "socially isolated".

I know I shouldn't care so much what other people think, but I do. But, we're also only six months into this. Perhaps, as time goes by, I will be able to shrug off these misconceptions more easily and just get on with our lives.

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Blogger Suburban Correspondent said...

Yes, you get less thin-skinned as you get more experienced. But it never goes away. It's amazing what unexamined assumptions people hang on to with regards to homeschooling. The woman who turned her back probably felt you weren't supporting the public schools. But I bet she doesn't do that to the neighbors who send their kids to private schools.

People just don't get that homeschooling is fun and that we enjoy it (most of the time). They can't understand that. So they look for other motives - snobbishness, religion, overachievement, martyr-complex - anything but admit that a perfectly reasonable person can choose homeschooling as a perfectly reasonable option.

I thought I would write more about homeschooling, too, in the blog. But it never works out that way.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Suburban Correspondent said...

Oh, and let's not demonize our fellow home educators - the ones who do it for religious reasons have just as much a right as the secular humanists. I love the fact that homeschooling has such a diverse community of people!

8:53 AM  
Blogger Suburban Correspondent said...

Not that you were necessarily demonizing them, yourself; but I just feel it is so important to support all homeschoolers.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Suburban Correspondent said...

I'll stop adding comments now.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

I know LOTS of geeky, poorly socialized kids who go to school, so I wouldn't worry TOO much about dumb people, ya know?

9:22 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Hang in there. We don't home school, but I know all about stereotypes. It seems like if you don't follow the rest of the lemmings, your doing something wrong!

I think your doing the right thing, just trust your heart.

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree - as much as I don't want to care what people think, I do. BTW - I think you are one of the coolest homeschoolers we know!

2:06 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

I've considered homeschooling but ultimately decided I didn't have the patience or discipline to do it well enough to meet my son's needs.

I've met and spoken with a lot of homeschoolers. And though I have encountered a couple of real nutjobs, most homeschoolers are quite normal and likeable.

I can't fault anybody for trying to do what's best for their kids. I think those who criticize homeschooling do so mainly out of ignorance.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Life As I Know It said...

I think it's great that you are making choices that you know are right for your family. Kudos to you!

4:20 PM  
Blogger Moments Of Mom said...

I know for sure that you have some very bright, well adjusted children in your house. You are not weird and neither is FOF.

What you are doing takes lots of time and discipline from all of you and your doing a great job at it.

And as for the stuck up un-enlightened towns people, well they can just kiss off.

7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are doing what you truly think is right for your family, then it is right.

As long as you don't start sewing the girls' dresses, I'm not worried.

My kids will be lucky to have a smart aunt who can answer their homework questions. Because their mom will be confused.

(That video is hilarious. Whowuddathunk to rhyme 'foyer' and 'Tom Sawyer'. Heh)

9:11 PM  
Blogger Mary Alice said...

People can be so completely ignorant and tactless.....and ya know some of us grow up having been homeschooled and turn out okay.....we can even socialize and carry on normal conversations about pop culture and the weather....hardly anyone even suspects that my sisters and I were all some of THOSE!

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah. A glimpse into my future.

Questioning societies assumptions and institutions -- especially the school system -- unnerves a lot of people. Do people think that by deciding the school system doesn't work for my kids, I am criticizing those who do enroll their children in traditional schools? Because I'm not.

I'm so glad that you've got this blog and I take a lot of comfort that you are so normal. And funny. Very funny.

3:49 PM  

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