Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Of Automatons and Homeschooling

When you want your children to do something and they tell you no or ask why, what is your initial emotional reaction? I know mine is sometimes anger and annoyance. Who are they to question me? I am the mother and ruler of this house and what I say goes. They should do it, not just because it needs to be done, but because I said so. It is annoying to hear the 'why' question, or wait until they are finished with some other task, or even to have them 'sass' me by telling me they don't want to do it.

But I do my best (not always successfully) to quash those emotions when they rear their ugly head--for to me, they are ugly emotions. I try to remind myself about my general belief of raising children. I do not believe my children are here to be seen and not heard. I did not bring my children into this world to react unquestioningly to figures of authority--even me or my husband.

My children are living, thinking, beings. They do not know as much as I do, and they need a great deal of guidance, but that is precisely what I want to give them. I want them to understand that neither I, nor the rest of the world (generally), is capricious. There are reasons for rules. In most instances, there is room for negotiation as well. We don't spend all of our time haggling because my kids accept my reasons--or I make it clear that this is not negotiable. But when it comes to what order they might do their school work, or whether toys can be left out to be used later, they have a great deal of control in how things work.

And I like that. I like knowing that they will be experienced decision makes, negotiators, and rule-obeyers--when the rules make sense to them. I also like that they feel, generally, that I have respect for their reasoning skills, their ability to follow-through, and their overall capabilities.

I don't want an automaton that will listen no-matter-what and never question authority. Will these children be able to differentiate who to obey? Just parents? All elders? How will they be able to trust their own judgement if it isn't exercised early on? Believe me, that is no small concern. Children raised under authoritarian parents are ridiculously insecure in decision making as adults.

I also like a little sass in my girls. We have fun together and gently tease each other--this also allows me to teach the difference between mean-spirited teasing, fun teasing, mean language, who she can or shouldn't talk to like that. My children don't fear me. They respect me and desire my good opinion on their behavior. I'd rather have respect and thinking than unquestioning obedience.


Kelly said...

Good for you, Kim!

I grew up with Objectivist parents, and they were pretty much the same way with me. I've found as an adult that I am very confident in my decision-making skills, and sassy to boot. My parents love it, and my husband doesn't mind either! :-P


Kim said...

Thanks. I actually posted this because I've read on other homeschooler's sites how they expect obedience.

objectivistDad said...

Great post.

Parents who expect blind obedience, set their kids up for rebellion. On the other extreme would be parents who more or less expect their kids to disobey even when they explain and reason.

Ideally, kids should be headstrong, but reason-based.

When my kid is rebellious and I feel the anger and annoyance coming on, I try to remind myself: "this headstrong attitude should help him resist peer pressure".

Kim said...

You had some good points on your blog! I liked your posts where you answered questions. Raising kids can seem so daunting--if you don't do it right they'll end up with complexes. It's hard to realize that you're responsible for the health and mental well-being of a whole other soon-to-be adult.

I had that conversation with someone. Being a big fan of natural consequences doesn't help when your kid doesn't want to do something for which they won't feel the effects for a long time. Some things are not negotiable and I still haven't found a good way to deal with that.