Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Keep Calm- You're a Good Mom, but you're homeschooling for all the wrong reasons

"Good moms breastfeed. Good moms formula feed.
Good moms vaccinate their kids. Good moms don't vaccinate their kids.
Good moms co-sleep. Good moms use cribs.
Good moms have hospital births. Good moms have home births.
Good moms adopt. Good moms have natural births. Good moms have epidurals. Good moms have c-sections.
Good moms have 10 kids. Good moms have 1 kid .
Good moms use cloth diapers. Good moms use disposable diapers.
I always see moms putting each other down over these things all the time. I've even participated in it. But I've realized that an intelligent, loving mother can consider the same facts as you and still come to a different conclusion. I know we're all only human, but let's learn to respect each other." found on facebook through a friend through 'prego & mommy chat'
Is this true? Can one be a good parent and basically do whatever? I know that it isn't a competition, but don't our choices make some difference in our children's lives? Are there no standards that every good parent abides by? Perhaps using a carseat and encouraging vegetable consumption...
This is my very roundabout way of responding to a homeschooling quandary at red cardigan's blog. The list of homeschooling parents' characteristics and motivations is, shall we say, very comprehensive. I don't see how anyone, homeschooling or not, doesn't match one or two of these. So I have a problem with this list because it makes it virtually impossible to homeschool for just reasons. I suppose this list is the opposite of the 'can't we all just get along ' list above (which as an INFP I tend to overdo anyway).

I believe the thesis of the homeschoolers' motivations list is this: parents homeschool to repair damage from their childhood experiences. So, parents homeschool because they were outcasts and they want to protect their children. Or parents got into lots of trouble in school, so they homeschool to control their children. Or parents were too smart to abide the lowliness of their classmates and they assume their children are just as special. Or religious parents want their children to be protected from Vatican II-style teachings. As children, these parents had to sit through 'Gather Us In' and 'Lord of the Dance' and had to fight their way back to the Church. They want to spare their children the pain.

But don't all parents try to spare their children the pain (from whatever source) that they themselves had suffered in the past? For example:
--- My mother hated her wedding dress with the blinding passion of 100 white-hot suns. She just did (she's still married- 5 kids- 24 and counting grandkids...she just hated her dress). She even let us use it for dress-up.  So, our wedding dresses were her top priority when we got married. Some were expensive, and some were not- all five were pretty. Will wedding dress purchases be as important to me when my girls get married? Perhaps, but not like with my mother. She had 'issues' and that's okay.
--- When I was ten, I spent the night twice at my best friend's house. The first time, we watched Alien. This was pre-my-family's-conversion and was with the approval of her parents. I didn't tell my parents. The second time, we watched The Shining. Even though my eyes were closed most of the time, I saw enough to make me wake up my parents and confess the following night. So, I now have 'issues' with sleep-overs. My kids sleep over with cousins.
--- My father-in-law, retired army colonel now commanding 100 or so beehives, cannot swim. Not a lot of children got to learn to swim well at the height of communism. So, he had swimming become the sport of choice for my husband. Even today, my husband is usually the best swimmer in the pool.
--- Communism is a gift that keeps on giving. My husband remembers well when he stood in line for the honor of purchasing a few bananas. So, he cannot abide a wasted banana. Me, as a spoiled and picky American, I cannot eat a banana unless it is perfectly ripe, yet unbruised. issues, issues...and it all affects our children, most likely causing the pendulum to swing the other way when the next generation comes of age.

We are making judgements when we choose something over another thing. When I pumped through the five weeks in the NICU for our preemie, I judged that that action was best for baby and me at the time. When I stopped breastfeeding her at six months (it was a triumph to get that far!), I judged that formula was acceptable at that age as it was healthful for her body and my sanity. Parents judge every day even when they are not judgmental of others' choices.

I suppose the answer for both the 'You're a Good Mom" list and the 'Crazy Homeschoolers' Motivation' list is found above- if we are making "intelligent and loving decisions," that is all we can do. The only thing we should be checking and second-guessing with regards to decisions made for our children is our love. Are we loving them through our decisions? Then, let's give ourselves a break and try to let go of our pasts.  And tomorrow, let's check our love again. 


  1. Excellent response to Char's head-scratching list!

  2. "Are there no standards that every good parent abides by?"

    I think so, if I may answer as a not-yet parent, but someone who already bemoans the X vs Y decisions and discussions that will inevitably become part of my life once I have a child.

    I think good parents all love their children, and want what is best, and try to do what is best, for that particular child, even if it's not the same as their siblings. I think good parents make the decisions with what they know and what they might research (but not always) and what they might think about. But not everything can be given lots of thought or research; some decisions must be made very quickly, even relying solely on the gut instinct or mother's intuition. Looking back, a different decision might have been better in the end, but sometimes we have to act fast and think later.

    Then again, the same musings can be given for anything else in life :-)

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  4. I agree with you on all of them except the vaccinations. The link between vaccines and autism has been completely debunked: There have been many cases of whooping cough and measles in recent years involving kids who do not receive vaccinations. Unvaccinnated children who do not catch these diseases have been protected by the "herd effect" of the majority of children being vaccinated, but if that number goes down, that protection will cease.

    I realize that some kids have adverse reactions to vaccines, and I definitely think it is worthwhile for parents to speak to their doctors about adjusting vaccine schedules, exploring alternative vaccines, and avoiding things like flu shots. But it scares me to think about a future where large sectors of the population are not vaccinating!

    1. I didn't write the first section- it was 'facelisted' from a friend of a friend- specifically about vaccinations- we do it (not flu every year and not the new cervical cancer thing). My husband is from a country where people die of the diseases that we in the US haven't seen. BUT I never vaccinate when my kids are sick and we try to space them out- any independent thought like this drives medical workers crazy

      about large sectors not vaccinating- the only people I know who don't vaccinate are white, upper-middle class...maybe because they are better educated OR maybe because they are seemingly protected from the diseased population?

  5. Many parents homeschool because they value education itself, and homeschooling is more time efficient on this score. As a kid, I've done both, and the public school option is much slower, much more limited. If education is what one is going to school for, homeschooling gets better results.

    You see this in sports as well. If you want to excel in anything, you have to a) put in more time than the average, and b) have private help as needed. Public schools don't really allow for this well, because they suck so much time sitting in classrooms, traveling to and from, and of course the social life focus. And the average kid in school is not very academically serious, which has an impact on the minority of serious students.

  6. You speak truth! Let's love and encourage one another as mamas. Parenting is hard and there are a lot of choices. Keeping your sanity is an important aspect of parenting.

  7. I like how in Greek there is krinos and anakrinos. Passing judgment on and discerning about. These two get conflated way to often and I try very hard to be discerning for myself but not to pass judgment on another. Especially in parenting. There are as many ways to parent as there are children in the world.


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