Friday, November 15, 2013


Teenage years are when children are supposed to pull away from family and establish their own identity - right?  This is the time when peers guide decision making and influence personal style. That is not happening for us.  We don’t quite fit into that generally accepted definition of adolescence.  

My girls’ peer group changes from day to day.  One day they are taking classes with a group of kids ranging in age from 10 to 14.  Another day they are with their music teachers all day.  A third day they have their closest group, their writing group, but... there is also their sign language group and the group of friends we don’t get to see as much as we’d like do to distance and scheduling conflicts but who are near and dear to our hearts.  I can't forget their shared bestieour neighbor, who sadly does not homeschool but we see several times a week after school.  

My girls are not locked in to teenage cliques, they are not driven to emulate the latest Miley Cyrus antics, nor are they pressured to make the same kinds of decisions I made at thirteen, decisions that were ill advised and harmful, not only to my body, but to my relationship with my parents as well.

I am not suggesting that keeping children out of school is the key to teenage bliss.  Adolescence has its share of challenges.  However, I do see that my daughters have no desire to separate from their family, at least not yet anyway.    Since their birth I have strived to maintain strong family connections with family members near and far.  From infancy, we journeyed two hours north to visit my Grandmother every Thursday so my girls would know her and remember her when she passed on.  I am so grateful I took this time.  I clearly remember the resentment I felt when Grace entered Kindergarten because our Thursday routine was disrupted.  We had to wait for school holidays to visit my Gram.  By the time we decided to pursue homeschooling, my Gram was no longer well enough for weekly visits, and many of  my trips north were with my mother and sister, so that my girls could keep their memories of my Gram as a happy, spunky, full of life woman who taught them about faith and love and family.  

It is just as important to maintain family relationships now that my girls are older, perhaps it is even more so.  We are blessed with a close family. My girls are loved on by aunts, uncles, cousins, great aunts, great uncles, grandparents and family friends.  I think the saddest part of adolescence is the time stolen away due to homework, test prep, and school calendars.  The message is very clear that school and schoolwork come first, family second.  I admire the way my sister handles homework with her teenage sons.  Sunday dinner at my mom’s is never abandoned because homework is not finished.  My nephews have it done before so that they can spend time surrounded by those who love them.  This matters, as much or even more than a few algebra problems or chapters of a novel.  

We still take the time out of our week to visit with family and friends.  I want my girls to have men and women in their lives who are not only friends of their parents, but mentors to them.  I want them to know their cousins, their great aunts and uncles as more than a name on a birthday or Christmas card.  When I wonder if we should stay home to work on a history project or finish up the last few pages of a book, I always decide that those things can wait for another day.  The opportunity to be surrounded by  love and laughter shouldn’t be squandered.  It is precious.  

It is one of the aspects of homeschooling that I am most grateful for.   


Karen said...

This is a wonderful post and so spot on as to how I feel also. I have seen none of the teenage angst that I have heard about for years. Of course Keilee is only 13 [or almost 14 as she tells everyone] and it may change but she would rather be with family than anyone. Unfortunately my family is small and we don't get together as much as I would like. But I have a huge extended family; aunts, uncles, cousins and we are doing more and more things with them. I want Keilee to have huge family gatherings they way I did. Her biggest family event to date has been maybe 12 people. We had 70+ growing up. Homeschooling allows us to pursue things that otherwise would have to 'wait' until the weekend or holidays. Love this Jess.

Jenn said...

I love this, Jess! I think that strong family connections has been one of the biggest rewards of homeschooling. As I watch the girls growing into young women that believe in the importance of family, I couldn't be happier! Thanks for sharing this:)

Mary Prather said...

Jess, I agree with this! I'm noticing that Anna isn't facing some of the other difficult peer pressure situations that other children her age are right now. She recently had an experience where she was with some neighbor children who all go to public school. She came and THANKED me for not sending her to school - she said the talk the entire time was about fights with boyfriends, how to stuff your bra correctly, and "junky" music. Her interests seem to go so much deeper than mine did at this age, and she also still enjoys being with her family. Her friends from music and CC are great kids whose families have the same values we do.

I'm so thankful we chose to homeschool. I think it's going to spare our kids a lot of heartbreak and potentially dangerous situations!

Great post :-)

Sandra said...

I'm definitely convinced that homeschooling strengthens family relationships - both between parents and children and between siblings - pkus extended family if they are around. I also love how educations fits in with life rather than life having to be fitted in around schooling and all it's demands.

Sandra said...

I'm another who is grateful for the way home education has strengthened family relationships and for the way it has let education and life fit together, instead of forcing life to fit around schooling.

Shel said...

I am so looking forward to my girls becoming teenagers! So many of my friends (who's children are traditionally schooled) are not looking forward to the teenage years. Having heard from many homeschooling/unschooling friends with teens and how wonderful the teenage years were for them I truly have no worries! Sure, I know there will be tough times but I truly believe that if we continue to live the way we live and remain as close knit and connected as we already are that it will be just one more amazing experience to add to the list of amazing experiences!

Thank you for this wonderful post, Jess! xo

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