Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas and why my parenting is different

I love Christmas. Like really really really love it. I cannot wait until Christmas morning to see the looks of joy on the faces of my children as they come downstairs and see the lit tree, the presents and their bikes!

I have so few good memories from my childhood, but Christmas was almost always one. I want my kids to have that joy, that magic, that complete delight that I did.

My mother was not a good mother. She was just not. I'm not going into specifics publicly, but it wasn't a good childhood. I had absolutely no trust for her by the time I was four.

The memories of Christmas is part of why I wanted to change the way I parented my children. Christmas was such a joy for me as a child, at least until I was about ten. It was a day when I wasn't scared, or angry, or sad, or lacking trust in my mother. It was a day that I knew that she could be counted on. And that is a wonderful thing.

But it is so sad that there was only one or two days a year that I could feel that way about her. The fact that Christmas and my birthday were so hugely different than the rest of the year is not a good thing. I looked forward to those holidays with such a passion because they were safe days. I don't want my children to look forward to safe days, I want every day to be a safe day.

So I comfort them when they cry, I don't scream at them, I don't hit them, I feed them healthy foods and wear them when they need some extra snuggles. Every child deserves those basics in life, to live a life where they trust their family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Where will they go

My three year old is obsessed with being a doctor. She talks about it frequently. When people ask her what she is going to be when she grows up she always says a doctor. She loves to read the pages in her books about doctors, and asks what schools she has to go to to become a doctor. When she goes to the doctor she asks the doctor to look in her ears with the otoscope.

Sometimes she'll also talk about when she is grown up and is a ballerina, or a farmer, or a mommy, or a dog. Yup. A dog.

As we are looking on a new and unexpected phase of education for our kids next year, we are thinking about their future in different ways. Something we have always said is that we don't want them to be pushed toward college. There is an unhealthy push to get a college education in our country. Some people probably question that, but college is overrated. Not all children are cut out to go to college. Some kids aren't designed to do four years of post high school education and work in a cubicle, but that is where our American society is leading kids.

I want my kids to have the freedom to go to college and excel if they choose. Even if they choose a major that doesn't seem to have a lot of job potential like art history, if they are passionate about that, they can make a wonderful life and career out of that. But I also want them to have the freedom to go to trade school, or start a business, or become an apprentice or go to ten years of college and medical school.

I am sure at this point that God is calling us to send our kids to school. At least for a few years. Just like homeschooling families we say we will take it year by year. This might only be a season, and it might be a long term venture. Who knows. But there are a few more worries with sending my kids to school rather than keeping them home.

The biggest worry I have is that my kids will feel forced and pressured into college. The school that we are sending them to has a 100% college matriculation rate. And the kids who go to this school don't go to east handkerchief state either. They go to tier one schools. I want to set up an environment in our family where they know college isn't the end all be all and there are other paths they might follow. I want to guide them toward their strengths and interests and callings, not push them toward college.

How can my children still explore freedom when they are being tunneled toward college?

And these big questions honestly make me wonder if school is going to last beyond the elementary years, and they will be homeschooled in high school. I know that is the opposite of most homeschooling worries. Many parents wonder if they can teach the upper division stuff, and don't worry about the lower division stuff. But not me. The elementary stuff does NOT interest me, and in fact I have never been sure if I could teach my littles the three Rs. But I have never worried from about sixth grade up. From that point on I was quite sure I'd be able to teach.

It is going to be interesting to watch this unfold.