Monday, April 19, 2010

"But my kids don't listen to me..."

I've heard that so many times.  Usually, it is one of those casual conversations, where somehow (I don't normally bring it up) the mom I'm talking to finds out we homeschool.  And she immediately starts making excuses about why she doesn't.  And there are a couple of those excuses that make me crazy.

(As an aside... for all the public school and private school families out there... our family decision to homeschool does not mean I think less of you for your family educational choices.  I don't need to hear why you can't.  I don't happen to believe that homeschooling is the only right way to conduct education, nor do I believe it is the only Biblical way to raise kids.  I do happen to believe it is right for MY FAMILY RIGHT NOW.  My life is crazy enough.  I don't have time to second guess your decisions.  And I have way better things to do with my time than to judge what you are doing.  If it is working for you, most of the time, that is fabulous.  If it is not working for you, I'm more than happy to talk to you about what homeschooling has to offer and what it is really like, if you want.)

Okay, so rant over... the two excuses that make me insane are:  "Oh, you're so lucky you can afford to homeschool, we just can't get by without me working." and "But my kids don't listen to me."  Oh, okay, and a third... "I don't have enough patience to homeschool."

This week's Blog Cruise question is "How can I homeschool if my child won't obey me?"  I wasn't going to respond.  But I guess I feel compelled to.

I'd ask that question back.  "How can you send your child to school if he won't obey?"  Or, "How can you make any parenting decision at all if your child won't obey?"

Or, I'd direct that question back at me... "What on earth ever gave you the impression that I have obedient kids?"

I'd love to be perfect.  I'd love to have a clean house.  I'd love for my kids to actually clean their room when I tell them to do so.  I'd love for them to say "Yes, Mom" and wash dishes when directed to do so.  I'd love for them to do their math homework when I tell them to.  And yes, I'd love for them to "do school" when told as well.

But, though I hate to shatter those misperceptions, my family is real.  While my kids may be more obedient than some, at least some of the time, they are far from perfect.  How could they be?  Their mom falls pretty far short of perfect.  So does their dad.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and all...

So, while I don't have anything terribly insightful to say about how to encourage your children to obey, I guess what I do want to say is:  If you are thinking about homeschooling, you do not have to become "perfect" first.  Just do it.  Homeschooling is full of these images of beautiful matching families, smiling while they perform amazing feats.  And maybe that is reality for some people.

But the homeschoolers *I* know are an awful lot like everyone else I know.  They worry about paying the electric bill (uhhh... yeah... I'll be right back... I have to get back on automatic payments for that one...) and they have children who push their buttons.  They yell at their kids and then feel guilty about it.  They worry about whether they are doing enough, or too much.  They don't always feel up to the task... and they have children who don't always obey them.

The non-homeschoolers I know are an awful lot like the homeschoolers I know.  They worry about paying the bills and they have children who push their buttons.  They yell at their kids and then feel guilty about it.  They worry about whether they are doing enough, or too much.  They don't always feel up to the task... and they have children who don't always obey them.

I can't tell you how many times I have had to ask my family if I've become mute.  Or invisible.  Dale, of course, always the funny man, generally responds by saying, "Mmmmh, did you say something dear?"  The kids laugh, I glare at him, and usually the kids do actually do what I had asked.

But we also have some pretty serious conversations, and the kids learn (slowly) that they can't expect us to bend over backwards for them if they won't listen to us.  Dale tells them that if they don't obey their mother, their mother won't be driving them to scouts...

That still doesn't make them perfect.  Or us either.  But somehow, we still get an awful lot of school in.

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday. Watch for what my Crew Mates have to say about obedience tomorrow!

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Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more! I heard once that our job with toddlers is to teach them basic dog commands. Sit, stay, come, no. And if you can do that, then you will have an easier kidhood.

I recently talked with a friend about how important it is that our kids learn basic human skills (responsibility, kindness, helpfulness) in their early years. Hmmm. I sense a post needing written. ; )

Anyway, I stopped by to remind you about the CHEER Homeschool Blogger Carnival. I'm enjoying having your blog post on
I hope you'll join the CHEER Homeschool Blogger Carnival this month... The Year in Review. Here's the link


Heather said...

Love this post, Debra! This really is a good question for the tour--it is interesting how many people do ask it. Around here, the kids I homeschool really feel like they get paid attention to--while my PS ones seem always a bit more alienated--which is sad. Having time to take time with them at home makes it so much nicer. I think it is easier to deal with discipline!