The old cliche "hell hath no furry, like a woman scorned" came to mind when I thought about today's topic. I recall my grandmother saying that often, and I vaguely recall my mother's actions that brought the statement to life. But I never, in my wildest dreams, ever thought that a social institution would harbor the capacity to change a kid so drastically.
The following is a true story submitted by a homeschool mom.
A bright-eyed, ginger-haired boy, once public schooled, was pulled from their facilities to enjoy a relaxed, stress-free learning environment, able to investigate the topics he was interested in and without the drama associated with public school. He showed no behavioral problems. He made good grades. But wanting to spend more time with my kids, I chose to homeschool them. I had him for three years - 7th - 9th grades. But he wanted to be among his peers. His friends, whom he said he missed terribly. Though, they never called, came over, or invted him to go anywhere during those three years. He never spoke of them.
Warning Sign Number 1!
Against every fiber of my being, I re-enrolled him in public school his sophmore year. I had no doubt in my mind that he could succeed with his mind and the knowledge he had gained during his homeschool years. What I was not prepared for was the vengeance public school would take on him - through the very ones he claimed were missing him so badly.
Warning Sign Number 2!
To show him how proud we were of him duirng his sophmore year of school, we bought him a PlayStation console and a few games. He was very happy. So happy his fundamental skills were temporarily paralysed. He forgot how to shower, change his clothes, brush his teeth, or tell the truth. Because it was a Christmas gift, I couldn't bear the thought of grounding him from it, so I tried setting up some time limits. That was a mistake. His words, "It's mine. You gave it to me."
Yes. It was true. It was his. We did give it to him. But we also paid the light bill and the internet bill. We informed him that his behavior was uncalled for and that until he contributed to the bills he was using, he would be limited on his time to use the system. For a little while, it worked. He got a job the summer he would begin his junior year. Yes! Things were improving.
No!!! He worked long enough to get a few paychecks to contribute to the light bil and internet bill... and quit.
Warning Sign Number 3!
Now a senior, my gingerboy has dropped out of school. He is partaking in very unhealthy lifestyle choices. He's unemployed, lazy, unwilling to make his own way and seems to be doing everything in his power to ignore every lesson life is trying to give him... except for the parts that he so willingly accepts: smoking, drinking, up all hours of the night, sleeping all day.
Warning Sign Number 4!
Because his actions were so damning and because of his close proximity to his younger siblings, I simply could not risk his negative behavior laying a crumbling foundation for their future teen years. We don't have much money, so sending him to a private school was out of the question. So was military school. We sought counseling, but that has proved useless, as he "knows" what to say or how to act to cause his counselors not to worry. With that, it was with a heavy heart that he was asked to move out.
He was not forced out. He chose. He made the decision to disobey simple rules. He refused to end his tobacco use. He refused to work. He refused to follow through on anything he begged to do: i.e. football, working to get a car, pay his own phone bill, etc. He refused to be independent. He refused to mature to a level suitable for his age. He refused to be my child.
Warning Sign Number 5!
He continues to smoke tobacco and I suspect goods of the herbal nature. He drinks like a fish. He asks for money from family and friends. I feel so lost. My sweet boy is not a boy anymore... But he isn't a man either. He's a huge guy with a good heart, but very low self-respect.
With all the parenting books I've read and all the parenting groups I'm a part of, I was not prepared for this. I don't think my choice to homeschool had anythign to do with it. If anything, it kept him on the right track for those years that I did have him. But I can tell you this, public school encouraged his behavioral and lifestyle changes. He wasn't raised around these bad behaviors, nor was he around it. I wish I'd have kept him home.
You are probably wondering about the warning signs and what they mean. I'll tell you. As a parent, we look for the easy signs: changes in grades, changes in friends, isolation, music preference changes, diet changes... and that's fine.
But NONE of those happened to my kid.
His grades remained steady up until he quit school. He still enjoys all of his favorite music. He eats like a horse. He loves being around his friends. He is jokeful. He is helpful to others. But rather than his "likes" changing... He changed. Everything else stayed the same.
I don't know if this will help anyone, but thank you for letting me tell my story.
Wow! I am at a loss for words. If you are reading this and find yourself caught in a situation like this, reach out for help. To the mom who shared this story - thank you. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through, but this certainly puts it into perspective. Sometimes, the reality of homeschool is hard to swallow. I agree. I don't think homeschool changed his behavior. It could be that he was happy to return to school, but found that his former friends had taken the road often traveled, and fell into a bad group. It could also be because he was at that awkward stage during his development that has left him feeling "absent" from who he is, or that he is simply trying to find himself.
Thank you for sharing your story!