One day at the grocery store, when I was pregnant with our little H, Ollie and I were perusing each aisle, making sure I wasn’t missing anything on my list (swollen feet really don’t like retracing steps). As I walked and he snacked in the cart, we came across two older women who were flipping through their coupon books in the middle of the aisle. I kindly said, “Excuse us, please?” and they smiled and stepped aside. Soon after we came across them again, and before I could say anything, my then two-year-old spoke up: “Excuse us, please?” The looks and praise these women gave my son and me were something I’ll never forget… They began to swoon over my little boy right then and there. They gave him praise for his sweetness and gave me a “You’re a great mom!” compliment. Every time we passed them in an aisle, my son would pipe up again with “Excuse us, please!” just to get the same excited reaction out of these ladies.
I realized soon after, not many kids are polite in this day and age. Not many gestures of please, thank you, excuse me, or even sorry cross kid’s lips — but they don’t cross the parent’s lips either. That’s why these women fawned over him so much, why they praised his little gentleman manners, why they told me I was doing a great job as a mother. It’s the reason why when our son’s friends, who attend school, come home yelling at their parents, swearing like little mini sailors, that our son looks at them with a slight judgment at only the ripe age of (almost) three. I must admit, I do too. Parents barely bat an eye or attempt to correct the behavior; they say, “Oh, they learned it from their friends at school.” It’s why I always need to have a talk with Ollie after playdates on why we don’t say certain things or act a certain way. He simply nods and says something innocent like “That’s a bad word” or “That’s a no-no.”
I have had serious conversations with some of my friends that claim they are embarrassed by their own kids. They hate to go out in public or to another person’s house because of how their kids act. I then hear the words that upset me: “I wish they were more like your kids.” I cringe when I hear this; it pains my heart because no one should wish their child to be like anyone else’s, nor should the child hear those frustrated words of desperation.
At a friend’s graduation party, a professor and I struck up a conversation that soon found its way to the topic of my boys. He was amazed at Ollie’s level of knowledge, and was even more enthusiastic when I mentioned we had chosen to homeschool him. He nodded with a huge smile, “I can always tell the difference when a student enters my class who has been homeschooled rather than meandering through the system. The homeschooled kids are always on top of their work, need little direction, and are so polite!” He claimed that parents with kids in the school system tended to rely on the school to correct their kids’ bad behaviors. They relied on the school to play parent and teacher when education should be their only role, not behavior as well. Kids that were homeschooled tended to have an all around grasp on what’s to be expected, not only in manners but also in school; the parents had combined the two, manners and education, into one and formed a “proper contribution to society.” I listened to this professor discuss how much he admired homeschooled students over the rest, and how many of his colleagues were in agreement.
His words rang true to my ears. I don’t believe homeschooled children are better or worse than the children in the public school systems. Teaching morals and behavior is all up to the parents, not the school. Your own morals and behavior are yours to pass on to your children, and expecting the schools to do it won’t amount to anything. Our kids are growing up in an ever evolving society where bullying is an unfortunate constant. With social media it’s harder and harder for kids to escape a situation they don’t want to be a part of. Do you remember the old saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never break me? I wish it were true… It all comes back to us as parents to bestow the morals and behaviors needed to better our society, one kid at a time. Parenting isn’t easy, and in this day and age, parents rely on the schools more then they should for raising children into well-mannered adults.
And, that is one of the (many) reasons as to why we chose to homeschool our kids. We see it every day with friends and their kids. How rude, immoral, and lost these children are in a world lacking some resemblance of a religion — struggling to grow into good, well-rounded individuals. Some parents have it handled and we praise them, but most…well, we love playdates, but also become exhausted from explaining over and over to our son why we don’t swear, why we don’t throw things or hit. The school isn’t teaching our kids to be good adults; they’re too busy trying to educate them. Good children, religious or not, would become devoured in a system full of kids who aren’t brought up in a household where there is a foundation of principles. These influences would add up, would change our sons, would change their perception of life and morals.
We don’t want to shield them from the world, but would like to prepare them for it; to guard their hearts and their minds, but teach them to respect others and their beliefs; to teach them that respect isn’t given freely, it is earned; to teach them to accept those around them, and understand that no one is like them; and, to not let bullies win at the end of the day in any form. God chose these boys to be ours, just like He chose for you and your kid(s). You’re put in a position now to raise them to be honest, well-mannered individuals. Don’t rely on the schools, don’t rely on anyone else to teach them the things they need to learn from you. Don’t fear the world, but be prepared to help them enter it.
Satan will do everything he can to devour any child of God. He’ll use their peers, media, and life in general to attack them. It’s absolutely terrifying! But, this is why you have a God who is even more terrifying, who is even more powerful, loving, and grand then anyone you or your kids will face — and He’s on our side. Don’t lose heart with teaching your children in school, life, or religion; don’t let the devil creep in and place doubt. Homeschooling is tough, we have our good days, our bad days, but when that moment comes when your kids say “Excuse us, please?” to some kind ladies, you’ll realize really quickly, you’re doing an amazing job, God is helping you, and His Holy Spirit is putting down roots in your kid’s hearts.