The Battle You Won’t Win

And Why It's Okay

Homeschoolers and socialization. Everybody knows it’s a thing. It has to be a thing, right? Because it’s like word association.
When people hear HOMESCHOOLER, they think SOCIALIZATION.
Why?
I don’t know. But let’s play out a scenario. You’re standing in line and randomly chatting up a stranger. You get around to the subject of your kids.

RANDOM CONVERSATION:

Stranger: Where do they go to school?
You: Oh. Well. (pause) We homeschool.
Stranger: Really?
You: Yes for (fill in the time period of schooling)
Stranger: Wow.
You: Yep.
Stranger: And do you guys do a lot of outside activities, for you know, socializing?
You: (Strained smile, inward groan) Yep. Yep. We sure do.

If you’ve homeschooled for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve had some version of this conversation. I  try to be polite about it when out in the general public.
Where I start to have a problem with the socialization conversation is with family members or long-time friends. The ones that really know you and your kids. The ones who should be able to tell that your children are indeed well-socialized.

NO SCHOOL BUILDING, NO SOCIALIZATION

Lately what I’m finding is that socialization is the battle you can’t win. No matter how well-adjusted your children are, no matter what activities they are involved in, if your children do not enter a school building, people for some reason believe they are not socialized.
My girls take music lessons three times a week. One of the lessons is actually being in a rock band that performs live once a quarter. They take drama classes and they are involved in classes at a local co-op. My oldest daughter was in a teen-only play at the local community theater over the summer. My girls are also involved in local teen and tween homeschool groups that meet on a regular basis.
We have friends whose younger kids request that their parents bring them over to our house because my girls treat them like equals and not like little kids. They think my girls are cool. (Yes, I’m bragging. Yes, it makes my heart smile. No, I don’t take credit for it. That’s all my girls).
This sounds like my kids are socialized, right?
But, no. My husband and I were talking about an upcoming teen homeschool dance with a close family member. Their response was “Oh good. That will be good for her to get out and socialize.”

Cue silent screaming.

Yes, we could have lectured the family member about the plethora of activities our children are involved in. (This family member, by the way, has been to the recitals, and plays, and band performances.) We could have rolled our eyes and sighed dramatically at the word socialize. But this family member had just helped us finish up a home improvement project and I didn’t want to show my thanks by lecturing them on the falsehood of homeschool socialization.
Actually what I realized in that moment was the inspiration for this blog post.

WE’RE NEVER GOING TO WIN.

We’re not. Sure, other homeschoolers get it. But people outside the homeschooling community will never understand. I can’t explain why.

I guess because there are always some exceptions to the rule. People look to the outliers and make assumptions about an entire group of people. Trust me, people can always drum up that one family whose kids “don’t get out.”

Yes, I’m pretty sure that’s called prejudice. No, I certainly don’t know how to fix it.
Armed as I am with my new knowledge what will I do? I don’t know. It may be pointless to fight the battle. If a close family member can’t look at my children and see they are well-socialized, nothing I say will fix that.

I’m at a “why waste my breath?” stage. Instead of focusing on people’s stubborn persistence to believe an ill-informed misconception, I will focus instead on my children. I will enjoy watching them bloom and grow at their activities. I will enjoy getting to know the new friends they make and hearing the stories from classes, and dances, and activities. I won’t worry about what other people think because I know the truth. And that is my victory.

1 Comment

  1. Donna Baker says:

    Love this! I’ve been homeschooling my 1st grader since November last year because of bullying and it’s the best thing I’ve done. She is more out-going, confidence, is making meaningful friendships and plays more outside, does karate, homeschool group, horse riding and piano. And I get to witness and be in charge who she’s around. Keep up the good work momma.

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