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Respecting our Children

by Lynn M. Griesemer

As a homeschooling mother of 5 children under age 12, I continuously encounter "adults with attitudes" - negative attitudes. Often blinded by the number of children I have, men and women of all ages fail to see my children's good manners or pleasant personalities. The frowns, and negative or derogatory comments emerge as they try to picture themselves with my brood. I certainly have not asked them to consider a family my size and am disappointed that people feel a need to compare and compete with others. I assume that what is running through their minds is that children are inconvenient - not necessarily expensive, but inconvenient.

Children are a disruption to a quiet, clean household and to a social schedule of adult activities. Many couples who finally make room for children in their busy lives shower the best care upon them that they know - nannies, trendy preschool programs, private school or whatever clothes and gifts their child wants. Children are often another possession. Science and technology can be dangerous when we use it to our advantage to choose exactly when and how many children we want, rather than viewing children as special blessings or gifts. These attitudes lay the foundation of how we Americans are raising our children.

Children are born in institutions (hospitals) and raised in institutions (day cares and schools). Some adults work in institutions (large corporations) , are sent to institutions when they are burdensome (convalescent homes), and die in institutions (hospitals). The names are changing (i.e., childhood development centers or assisted living communities), but the fact remains the same: individuality is sacrificed for what is convenient or easier in the lives of adults. The abuse (of individuality) starts with "assembly-line obstetrics" and extends all the way to the deathbed. How can parents teach children the true meaning of sacrifice, service and love when many adults are self-absorbed and unwilling to make sacrifices?

Sending our children to schools in which adults decide what they will learn and how they will learn is not only abusive and disrespectful to children, but is a flawed assumption of what compulsory education is accomplishing. Adults praise themselves on their fine curriculums and what they think they are teaching, but so much learning is never truly imprinted or retained. How much of our 13 years of schooling (and approximately 13,500 hours in the classroom) do we adults really remember? We can easily come up with some of the emotional experiences we had and very little of the academic material we supposedly learned.

If we truly respect our children, we will try to gauge what is important to them and foster more self-directed learning. Homeschooling, and unschooling in particular, is a major step in the right direction in raising children with respect, confidence, optimism and a sense of entrepreneurism rather than mediocrity and apathy.

Lynn M. Griesemer has been homeschooling since 1994 and is the author of Unassisted Homebirth: An Act of Love

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