Faith & Encouragement | School | Sublimly Ridiculous

The Specter of Socialization

October 21, 2012

The “socialization” question makes me Ka-Razy. I don’t know about you but I am DYING over here.

Even before we had children we were committed to the ideal of home education.  After we started we were consistently asked about what home schooling looked like for our family.  Often the answer was easy.  “Have you met my kids?”

It wasn’t until the past few years where I jumped into home school activities here locally with wild abandon that we weren’t often the oddballs in our friends and church circles.   Wild Abandon.  Heh, that’s at least what it felt like to me as Friday School (which is AWESOME and everyone should participate) and Classical Conversations (which revolutionized and INSPIRED me in my own education while providing a better education for my boys than I ever dreamed possible on my budget) came to fill my time.

Yet, in spite of my best efforts, that question kept raising it’s ugly head.

“What about ‘socialization?”

In moments of light-hearted banter I proposed to take my kids into the bathroom, beat them up, give them a wedgie, and take their allowance.  Most of the time that gets a chuckle.

Of course, now that my boys are 5’11” and 5’10 and could easily take me out with an unintentional arm flail, I don’t even try the “bully” route.  Instead, I mock them and question their fashion sense.

It’s all “socialization”, right?  It’s how people are trained to treat one another.  At least if I take our modern pop culture, TV shows, what passes for funny on Facebook as the gold standard of what that mystery of well socialized adults should be…

But all jesting aside, what are those key elements that our popular culture deems vital to the proper development of a contributing member of society.

Age Appropriate Classrooms:

Because as we all know, every work, life, social, spiritual situation will only include large groups of peers who are within 12-18 months of us in age.   Right?  Why would I ever work to provide my children with the skill of multi-generational conversation and relationship development before the age of 18 when they are pushed into a society they are only vaguely familiar with? (TV and the interwebs don’t count; they aren’t “real life”)


Oh! So, only when sent to a brick and mortar environment with no voice toward whom they choose to spend 30+ hours a week will a child ever make a positive choice regarding friendship?  Really?  I had to say it out loud to hear the punch line.  It’s ok. I’ll wait for you to do the same.

Extra-Curricular Opportunity:

Like, um, band?  Because we all know how the music and fine arts departments are faring in our public school system.  Football or track?  Yeah, we can do that too.  IF we want to.  And no one is stuffing our heads into a locker because we aren’t part of their educational caste.

Sex Ed:

A lot of home educators I know live on small farms.  I grew up on one.  The basics?  We get it.  Is it really a bad thing to protect a child from the availability of opportunities for experimentation and the awkwardness of social pressure to engage in behavior beyond their level of emotional maturity or physical capability?  Do I want them chatting about sexual issues with an equally immature peer or in a safe environment with someone who cares enough about them to speak honestly and intentionally about the gift of their individuality, the power of their own choices, and the consequences inherent to careless behavior?

Yes, Heidi, but DO THEY GET OUT!!!

Can I just say that I have met many, many home educated students and beyond a shadow of a doubt I can answer YES!!!

Dances, parties, games, movies, clubs, music lessons, theater groups, study groups, church events, even dating! Gasp

And these kids talk politics, apologetics, social justice, and most recently, in a group of young men (12-14), the discussion of a Y dimension that is non-quantifiable and how such a thought relates to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity…

Socialization.  More honestly, those who function well within society are those in who have been invested thousands of man-hours enabling them to become strong individuals capable of self-determination and a strong personal work ethic.

That can happen even in a home school environment. Or even in a public school.

How do I make sure my children are well socialized?

It starts with me behaving in a respectful, responsible, kind, and sociable manner toward those with whom we have the privilege of interacting.   I lead by example.

On the outside, we take the initiative to take care to dress in a way that shows we care to look as nice as we can on a regular basis.  On the inside, we work diligently to find those things we have in COMMON with our fellow man and work hard to not be always taking up arms to fight about the things about which we differ.

We consider ourselves fellow sojourners on this parenting route and refuse to believe that those who choose to live differently are no less called to be the best parents they can be to their children.  I have firmly believed that those who educate at home actually have it easier than those who send their children to our illustrious institutes of learning.

Dude, did she really just say that?  Aren’t we supposed to line up for sainthood because we have sacrificed to home school?

Dude.  I really just did.

Put your prejudice aside and realize that what I build on Monday at home, for the most part, is still standing on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday…

But that precious little one who walks into a classroom of 24 other young people from a significant variety of life experiences and challenges is white-knuckling to the truth of the value of their own uniqueness, the value of their individuality, while being boxed in from every side to “shut up, sit down” and give the “right” answer to a question that may have several different answers.  The “Jesus Loves Me” on Sunday and mommy’s sweet goodbye kiss paling under the onslaught of a relativistic morality and the ugly taunts of a child who has no comprehension of love either divine or from a mother.

Socialization… That buzz word no one really understands.  A weapon against those we consider less amazing than ourselves.  The minute it’s put out onto the table, the recipient is on the defensive and the wielder has been deafened to any response but the one, which they have predetermined, is “correct”.

As my boys get older I am left, more than I care to admit, nursing a cup of tea in the evening and wondering if I could ever have half  the social life they do.

Maybe the question isn’t if the students are well socialized but whether the parents are!

How socialized are you?

  • Now that is a great turn on the old question. Not sure how socialized I am, I don’t get out a lot these days. 🙂

    This was great: “It starts with me behaving in a respectful, responsible, kind, and sociable manner toward those with whom we have the privilege of interacting. I lead by example.” And that is the problem maybe with society at large, not enough of this for children to view.

  • I don’t think I’m socialized enough, Heidi. I think we shall have to remedy that with a girls night out. 😉

  • My kids are learning to say “sir” and “mam” they are holding doors and being polite and considerate of others (most of the time). They are doing a decent job with their studies. Right now they don’t get to play with other kids as much as they might like, but we did try soccer this fall and that seemed to go well. Socialized? I’m not trying to raise socialists.

  • @ Jennifer – A child will only emulate the strongest influence in their life. Whether that strong influence will be for good or ill depends on who we are willing to become.

    @ Alia… Oh, most definitely we need to get a girls night going. 🙂

    @ too many consonants, not enough vowels… Res, right? Socialization, the ability to function within society, is a skill worth learning. And the best place for that to happen is within the safe “practice arena” of a home where the leaders are capable of modeling behaviors worth emulating.