It’s a very common thought. The world certainly believes children have a need that only friends can fill. Isn’t that the most common concern people bring when they hear you’re going to homeschool? What about peer socialization?
I’ve read so many blogs, discussions and threads where homeschooling parents are trying to answer that concern as they defend homeschooling. Instead of realizing that the question itself is based in a wrong idea, they try to give evidence that their children have lots of friends and do plenty of socializing with peers.
However, the question is based on the assumption that children have a need that only socialization with their peers can meet. It’s based in the belief that if children do not have outside-the-family friends, they will be deficient in some manner. They will be lacking or undeveloped in some way. They will be missing out on some part of life that is essential.
But is this an idea that comes from the Lord and His ways? Or is it an idea that comes from our own upbringing and generations of being schooled outside the home and outside the family? Does this idea come because parents are searching for their own needs to be met in their own peers?
When we as parents either allow or encourage our children toward building close relationships with outside-the-family peers, we are unknowingly sowing seeds toward unpleasant and perhaps devastating consequences that are so common we’ve come to think of them as normal. However, they are far from what God has intended for families and for His people.
Healthcare scientists have long ago discovered a cause-and-effect connection between eating lots of starch and sugar and heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. They’ve determined that you can reduce the risk, or even eliminate these conditions by choosing to eat different things. There is abundant education and discussions about how these two things are connected. The one causes the other. If you sow the activity of eating lots of sugar and starch, you will reap the trouble, pain, and distress of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
Hardly anyone is talking about the same sort of cause-and-effect connection between strong outside-the-family peer relationships, and the resulting harmful family conditions. The homeschooling community has embraced the world’s harmful values of sowing toward their children’s peer relationships and they are reaping the cause-and-effect consequences along with the world as well.
Christian homeschooling parents care deeply about their children and their education, so it isn’t that they don’t care. It’s that they don’t realize the connection between sending their children to get their needs met through their outside-the-family peer relationships, and the consequences that follow.
Since they don’t know about the cause and effect connection, the results seem to many to be mysterious. So many Christian homeschooling parents are somewhat confused or dismayed when they see these things happening in their children’s lives, while some believe along with the world that these unChristlike relational habits are normal.
• Disdain for siblings
• Emotional distance from siblings
• Resistance to the parents values and what parents think of as important
• Loss of interest, complaining, or irritation and anger with any event or outing that doesn’t involve outside-the-family friends
• Complaints of boredom when they can’t be with their friends
• Lack of knowing what to do with their lives or what they’re interested in as adulthood approaches
• Increased selfishness and demands relating to peer contact, peer gatherings or peer events leading to temper explosions or aggressive pouting behaviors
Later In life
• Resistance to parents’ ability to share wisdom about how life works
• Distant family relationships, especially between grown siblings and their siblings’ spouses
• Empty or superficial feeling family gatherings
• Independence and emotional distance in marriage and family life
If You Knew
If you knew about the cause-and-effect connection between outside-the-family friend relationships and how they produce these unpleasant conditions, would you begin to look at your children’s connection with their peers differently? If you knew that allowing or encouraging your children to get or make friends outside the family was sowing toward these conditions, would you consider sowing differently?
Have you seen some of these conditions at work in your children? Have you seen some of these conditions at work in your own adult family and with your own siblings?
The Needs of Children
Children need to be approved of and affirmed, go through life with a sense of belonging, grow into their God-designed purpose and to be taught how to love others. God has designed the family for meeting these needs in children’s lives. In my next blog post, I’ll be exposing what happens when families are trying to have these needs met by their outside-the-family friends.
Lifestyle of Learning™ principles can help you turn these conditions around and show you how to develop your family relationships, so that your children can have their needs met in a God-designed way leading to a much deeper sense of approval and belonging, strong understanding for their unique God-given purpose, and the formation of Christlike loving character.
Lifestyle of Learning™ does not promote isolation from peers, but provides specifics on how to intentionally build strong healthy family relationships, open hearts, and precious Christlike loving character in you and your children.
For more input on this topic I highly recommend to you Marilyn Howshall’s books Develop Vision for Your Family, Come Home from Homeschool, and Empowering the Transfer of Moral Values and Faith. For more reading and examples of these ideas see a blog post series that begins here.
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