Tuesday, September 22, 2009

First-Generation Dorks

We have all experienced it—the embarrassment of admitting we were homeschooled. Equaled with the embarrassment is a swelling of pride when someone is shocked at the news, because they “never would have guessed.”

            Just as rebellious teenagers ruin the image of all teenagers everywhere, those socially inept, fashionably challenged homeschoolers have ruined the image of every homeschool graduate that exists today.  Though we try so hard to fight the stereotype, we can never break away from the labels or defeat the image of a metal-mouthed, bad-acned, dork who wrote code for a college entrance essay at the age of 16.

            Our parents tell us to be proud. But somewhere in the late teens we realized that the ease with which they encourage us is aided by the fact that they were never homeschooled. Perhaps the labels and images applied to homeschool mothers is another topic altogether.

            True, there was a period of time where we took pride in our homeschooledness. This usually occurred in the company of adults who were amazed at the ease with which we conversed with them and passed on accolades to our parents, marveling at our maturity in handling circumstances beyond our years.

            Our peers might have told us a different story if their parents had not silenced them first.

            As the product of first-generation homeschooling, we experience many phases of Post-Homeschool World. One of which is to be, dare I say it, disgusted with other homeschoolers.  We resort to tactics that propel us far from this world. Sometimes this includes strange piercings, colored hair, and, occasionally, tattoos. But alas, these tactics only prove to reveal our homeschool heritage even more, for we do not know how to wear our differences with confidence. As the usual tactics fail us, we approach the phase of reconciling our pasts with our futures.

            It often takes a while for a former child homeschooler to realize the benefits of their homeschooled life. It often takes us a while to go from “I will never homeschool my children,” to “I am open and willing.” Often we reach a place where we can say that homeschooling is the only option unless providentially inhibited.

            To add to this future confidence is the observation of our previously homeschooled friends. They pioneer a new age as second-generation homeschoolers and they actually seem to be enjoying it. The initial fear of a homeschool mom is non-existent (they once wrestled through this with their own mothers). Balancing house cleaning, friendships with other women, and friendships for their children, seem easier as there are fewer unknowns. They know from experience that their children will learn what they need to know when they need to know it and relax around the academic world. This provides more learning opportunities as stress is expended to other areas. They enjoy their children. Their husband, who is also a product of homeschooling, is supportive and encouraging, as he has watched his own mother struggle with unnecessary fears and stresses. Maybe, he even helps out a little. These women actually homeschool because they want to, not because they feel an obligation or duty. This adds a completely new element to homeschooling that we, as the first generation, rarely experienced in our secluded sphere.

            Time can only tell what sort of adults the second generation will produce. Meanwhile, as homeschooling continues to increase in popularity, the threat of the stereotypical homeschooler continues to lessen. We grow strong as we recognize that we, too, have a place in this world. Our childhoods, though perhaps dysfunctional and misdirected, were merely the birth pains of a different sort of people who are comfortable with creating new traditions. If this alone were the only result of our parents fumbling efforts, we can be confident that such an enormous feat of societal rebellion has had its reward.

            For who can stand against the metal-mouthed dork who has come into his own? 


  1. I loved how eloquent this post is.... "We approach the phase of reconciling our pasts with our futures" resonates with me. Right now, this transition is being made in my heart. Not as much from "I won't homeschool" to "I will", more of an alteration of attitude - a garnering of independence. Because I have the desire to homeschool does not mean I have to replicate the model of the First Gen. I desire husband involvement, I desire freedom of curriculum, I desire to always be myself as a mom and not acknowledge condemnation from other homeschool moms.
    Anyways, wonderful post!

  2. Kait, I am very excited to see what the second generation will be like. I really do feel like we are a new sort of pioneer. We're taking what our parents figured out through trial and error and perfecting it with our own families. I am glad you want to home school (because you're kids are going to be awesome regardless). I think the first generation was characterized by a lot of fear of the unknown while the second is more excited and resolute.
    I certainly am excited...