TIPS from 2008 Seminar
The most pressing concern was how to wear “too many hats” and the tension between trying to be Mom, teacher, chauffer, gifted coordinator, lunch lady, sibling wrangler, student (often slightly ahead of a YS…or not) and have some fragment personal time.
The kind of adolescent experience you have is partially driven by the kind of parenting you have. While that seems an obvious statement, it is a two-part statement. Partially being the first idea. As in, no matter what you cannot claim more than partial credit for your child’s successes; and more importantly, only partial blame for the times when you are filled with utter parental or teacherly dismay. Teenagers have incomplete life experiences and brains that are still in the process of maturing; the nature of adolescence is a poor sense of long term outcomes, a badly calibrated sense of risk, and the kind of hubris that it takes it launch yourself into the world. The faith they have in themselves is the kind of faith it takes to leap out of the nest and into thin air. It is breathtaking.
Partially, also means that you have the power to help tip decisions, to given them the chance to practice leaping while you remain as coach, cheerleader, audience and safety net. Through out their adolescence, small comments, gestures and examples can help them shift in one direction or another. Parenting is generally a process of small decisions and choices, interspersed with a few big moments.
Children are also in the process of learning and practicing the skills they will need in adult life. Often kids are not motivated to pitch in because failing to do so doesn't really impact them. If they are responsible for their own laundry, then they either wear clothes they fished out of the hamper or they take care of their washing in time. Often these are easy ways to help them appreciate natural consequences when the stakes are low.
You can also give each child a night to make dinner. If that means pasta and sauce, so be it. But if they get distracted and the noodles turn to mush, they tend to hear about it from sibs and everyone eats mushy pasta.
The sibling rivalry issue popped up in all sorts of guises - the idea that your sib might get to do something potentially fun that didn't include you made school time like bait for the other kids in the family.
The two solutions included how to use this to involve the other child in a constructive, helpful way, which either make it seem like work (and therefore uninteresting) or it furthered the education of both and furthered team teaching.
One parent suggested that the some of the tension came from putting each of these different tasks into different categories. “I find my peace by seeing it as just a part of my life, though that is not to say that all my days are peaceful.”
TIPS from the 2006 Seminar
If you are a parent and teacher, all rolled into one, you may experience a double dose of power struggle. Involving tutors, mentors and other adults helps diffuse the rebellion by sharing the load. It also reminds them that basic social expectations aren't just a "weird mom thing".
Corollary: Kids are often lovely around college students because they want to impress them. They are cool and exciting; whereas we grew up the Pleistocene era and couldn’t possibly understand. Mentors are especially important when parents are "morons."
Socialization doesn’t just happen in the playground. Socializing is a process of “civilizing the little heathens” and doesn’t necessarily require having 30 age peers around to do it.
Autonomy needs to be tempered with humanity…even to parents. One of the socialization challenges for some YS is the "moron voice." You probably know which one I mean - it’s the tone of voice that drips with contempt. You can point out these communications without making a big deal out of them. Just point out "moron voice" or say "ouch" when s/he conveys disdain for you by eye rolling, sighing, flouncing, door slamming, sulking, or using "the voice". Learning to attack the idea without attacking the person is just one of those basic life skills they need to learn.
Think of the referee who calls a 15 yard penalty for an illegal hold; it is a good way to approach it. This approach lacks drama and doesn't feed into the perpetual quest for exceptions and loopholes that YS get sucked into. They are just winging it while trying to figured out what independent looks like, and sometimes it looks pretty awkward.
Taking time for you: Homeschooling is a demanding choice that some parents (usually moms) take on because there is no good alternative. It can be a wonderful, awful or Ok choice, depending on the personalities and situation. The isolation can be wearing; try to protect your recharging time, your own intellectual interests and social time. As moms, we put our kids’ needs first. Prioritize your own needs more. Talk to other homeschooling parents often. They have great advice.
Toot your own horn. Homeschooling moms are not intellectual lightweights, although children (and neighbors) may have no idea about your “former life.” Share what you did (and what you do) so people can see you as a whole person. For some, homeschooling has allowed the freedom to explore intellectual interests without trying to squeeze it around a 50 hour week. Your brain counts too.
Home/Classroom. Working from home can be unmanageable “unless you have a large house with distinct areas for work, home and school.” Try to keep distinctions when you can.
Children need to learn how to run their own households; practice helps. Genuine help around the house is part of their education and social development. It teaches reciprocity and empathy. Given that homeschooling mom’s need time for private reflection, recharging and intellectual interests, all of which are harder to do while doing laundry.
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