Socialization Again?

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“But what about socialization?” How many times have you heard that question? Do you suppose that the people who ask are not prepared for your reaction? Why do they even ask?

For a long time, I thought people who asked that question were just being nosy and far too interested in my life and choices, but lately, I’m thinking it might be something else.

All moms worry about their kids. If moms have kids in school (public or private), they are constantly fed a set of issues to closely watch: “Make sure your child does his homework.” “Watch their diets and make sure your children get plenty of exercise.” “Don’t forget to encourage your child to participate in all our extracurricular activities, so they develop friendships with their peers and classmates.”

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Those moms then run across another mom who has seemingly abandoned caution to the wind, ignored all the societal norms, and kept her children home to teach them. They are stumped. Don’t you love your child? How could you make this choice?

A mom who sends her children to school all day tries to understand you, the homeschooling mom, through the only lens she knows. So she asks the same kinds of questions she would ask other moms who send their kids to school all day, except that she can’t ask about afterschool clubs and extracurricular social activities that you could potentially send your child to. Not having any other way to describe it, she asks you, “What about socialization?”

After that, and I suspect with the same motivation, she will inevitably ask, “What about grading?” “Who decides if your child is learning the right things?” “How do you do PE?” Or the ever popular, “How do you do prom; won’t she miss out?” A lot of us take these questions at face value. We feel criticized and misunderstood. We feel attacked and generally, we retreat. What if, the next time a mom, who sends her kids to school, asks one of those infamous questions, you just stop, take a breath, and assume she is really just trying to make the same kind of small talk that she makes with other moms in her circle. She is “reaching across the aisle” to make contact, and you have an opportunity to grab her hand and give it a friendly shake.

I think that if we’re open to the possibility that other moms are, in reality, basically just like us, we can make real headway as a group to show those other moms what homeschooling really is like and how it can transform your life. Those moms love their children dearly and they think that they are doing the best they can for them, just like us. Fundamentally, I think most of them really just want to understand us.

They see our bright, outgoing, articulate, unique children and they wonder how we did that. They try to open the conversation with us. All we really have to do is reach back across the aisle that separates us and try to make a friend. Once they see our children and how we live, they will understand. They might even join us, and so many families will be happier.

I think we can start the process simply by considering what that mom might actually mean, the next time you hear, “What about socialization?”


Kirsten West – I am a homeschooling mom with twin teenagers. We have homeschooled them since they were young and now that I have more time, I blog, write math books and children’s stories, crochet a lot in the evenings, and work as an independent consultant for The Old Schoolhouse as the Affiliate Manager.

2 Comments to “ Socialization Again?”

  1. Heather says :Reply

    This is a really interesting perspective. I’ve never heard it expressed that way. I will try to keep this in mind the next time I get asked that question!

  2. Diana says :Reply

    Good article! This is a perspective that will work some of the time, but not all of the time. Sadly, there are people out there that have a genuine gripe against homeschooling, and never miss an opportunity to make degrading remarks. The key is to discern as soon as possible, which angle the person is coming from. Once you’ve deduced that the person may just have a genuine curiosity about homeschooling, then by all means, engage away! Unfortunately, too many homeschoolers fall prey to useless arguments and debates with folks who are not out to understand, but to devour. This is a great perspective. We just need to be wise in the process.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).