Thursday, January 19, 2006

Resilient Children

As a parent, I am happy to see my children handle life's challenges better than I did. But let me digress a moment. I must confess that I cried all the way home from the doctor's office after he told me that the baby I was expecting was a girl. I thought childhood and adolescents was bad enough the first time. I didn't want to see a replay. I thought if I had boys, I could deal with every adolescent crisis with a "Go talk to your father" strategy.

Recently I attended an event sponsored by a group to which one of my daughters belongs. As part of the presentation, they showed multiple pictures of all the girls who had participated with the group that year. However, for some reason, they didn't included pictures of my daughter. At the end of the presentation, my daughter gave me a questioning look, that said "Hey, why wasn't I included?" I shrugged my shoulders, and gave my most nonchalant "Huh? I wonder what happened" response.

I'm sure it was inadvertent, but I wanted to cry. That Jr. High feeling came back to me. Different incidents from my childhood began to flash over me. I had the "I'm stupid, no one loves me, I'm not as good as everyone else" feeling. At 40, I can say that I've almost made peace with my childhood. However, I'm shocked at how easily the wave of misery comes back to me.

I carefully watched my daughter the rest of the evening. There was no hint of distress on her face. She was her happy, normal self. It became apparent that this oversight was no trauma for her. It was just an "Oh well" moment. My childhood sense of self was so fragile that accidental oversights and intended snubs were catastrophic. I am so pleased to see that this is not the case for my daughter.

Recently a homeschool friend of mine received an unpleasant post on her website. The writer claimed that homeschool children were wimpy and couldn't handle the real world as adults because they hadn't been bullied in school.

My children have never been to public school. As a result, they are not overly dependent upon others for their sense of well being. They can handle the real world just fine. In fact, sometimes they handle things better than me. (I admit that I am still a little upset about the above mentioned picture incident.)


radmama said...

I agree with you. My son was homeschooled until he was 8.5 and, although he is the person the most like me on the whole planet, seems to be infinitely more resiliant to teasing or exclusion than I was.

Birdie said...

The most resilient children I have known have always been those who have a good, close relationship with both parents. Homeschooled children seem to have quite a jump on their public schooled counterparts in that regard.

Janine Cate said...

I agree that the relationship a child has with the parents makes a big difference. Good relationship take time. School can be a detriment to family, especially if kids become more attached to their friends than their family.

Patricia said...

Janine, I can certainly relate. My daughter is much healthier emotionally at 14 than I was at that age (or even older!), and I believe that it is because she has been able to avoid - for the most part - the dysfunctional socialization that occurs in institutionized educational settings. Blessings ~ atricia

Casa_DeArtes said...

Your post left a big smile on my face. I can attest to the same kind of "my kids are better at socializing than me" My 18 yr. old dd is own her own in NYC. She told me that she wanted to enjoy relationships on a beginner level with her peers before she embarked on the most powerful relationship at the top level "love interest" She genuinely not distracted and knows herself well. I was so impressed. I haven't stopped smiling or feeling good since. She has her sites firmly set on her goals and I'm telling you there's no stopping her. I wished I'd been that focused at that age. I know she and her siblings lives will be far happier than I ever dreamed it could be. I couldn't ask for more. That's the impact of home schooling.

Anonymous said...

I'm just browsing your older posts, and this one especially struck a chord with me. I didn't have a horrible school experience, nothing earth-shattering, but I still have these twinges that throw me back decades.

It's only now, in the second half of my 30s, that I've started to really make progress re-evaluating my view of myself.

I don't want my kids to have to spend this much of their lives with such things to work through.


Henry Cate said...

"I don't want my kids to have to spend this much of their lives with such things to work through."