The idea of homeschooling often sets people to thinking about tightly controlled children whose parents are over-involved in every aspect of their chidren’s lives. This might be true in some instances (and it’s also true with families whose children attend traditional school), it is not and should not be the norm. As a homeschooling parent, you can’t help but be involved in your teen’s life and future plans. However, if you are planning for your teen to leave home and start an adult life, 14 is about the age to start setting them free. GASP! It’s scary territory, for sure, but it’s how we learned to do things and it’s how kids today learn to do things as well.
If you’re a parent, it’s likely you went out as a teenager with nothing more than a quarter to make a phone call home if something went wrong. Your parents couldn’t track your every movement. They could not call you at any whim. And, look at you! You probably made mistakes, but you’re here – wiser and smarter for your experiences – experiences you had ON YOUR OWN. Are you prepared to give your kids the same freedom? If not, why not?
I’m a homeschooler and a writer. I recently wrote an article for an Indian company that offers tracking software for parents. It allows parents to see every, single thing there child does online – texts, phone calls, social media, internet searches and more. I get the desire to protect kids and to keep them from doing something stoopid. But, at what point does all of this tracking become too much. I have three adult children (oxymoron much?). I always felt that if they were able to earn a driver’s license and had nothing else going on in their lives that made me worry, I could trust them to go where they said they were going and to come home on time. For the most part they have/did. I suppose we could have tracked their every movement but why? How does it help me or them if I know they stopped at a drive-thru for milkshakes?
The same applies to homeschooling. By high school (particularly mid-high-school), your child should be largely in charge of the direction of their education. You’re there to guide them (sometimes strongly) in the right direction. But, if you don’t allow them to make mistakes, or even bad choices, while they are home and safe with you, when should they make these mistakes? Would you rather drive around the corner to check on a fender bender or get a call from across the country from your college student who has no idea how to handle this type of event or worse?
It’s not easy to let your teens go. In the long run, I’d argue, it’s better to let them screw up while they’re still safe at home with you. (They ARE going to make mistakes.) You can always wind back their freedom if need be. To keep them in a mommy/daddy protected bubble is doing them a disservice. Take a deep breath and let them go. You’ll sleep better when they’re out on their own if you do.