Two weeks ago, my son started kindergarten at one of the Catholic schools in our town. So far I have been very happy with our choice. This school has been around for over 100 years, and they seem to have learned a thing or two during that time. Everything they do seems well-thought-out and deliberate. Plus, from what I have seen so far, they do a good job of walking the line between being welcoming to non-Catholics while still being authentically Catholic.
Still, there is a part of me that wishes I were homeschooling my son. There is a lot that appeals to me in the freedom, control, closeness, and customization that homeschooling allows. I admire those who do it.
However, just as I admire religious life but discerned it was not my call, I like the idea of homeschooling but discovered it would not work for me and my circumstances.
For multiple reasons, my working outside the home is vital to the well-being of everyone in my family. God blessed me with a wonderful part-time job that serves the poor, is flexible, and has good benefits, but I have to go into the office to do it. There are no hybrid schools in my area, so I couldn’t homeschool part time, either. So, logistically, I couldn’t find a way to make homeschooling work.
Need for community
God has chosen to give me only one child so far. Everyone that I know who homeschools has at least two children. There is nothing wrong with homeschooling an only child, of course, but I think my son in particular needs more experience with not being the center of attention.
Also, given the weaknesses of his parents, I want my son to have multiple adult role models. I have enough humility to say that my husband and I both have character flaws that I do not want to see my son adopt. My hope is with more frequent exposure to other adults without the same flaws we have, my son will not struggle with those same issues.
My fears and need for control
After much reflection, I came to realize that one of the things that most appeals to me about homeschooling, the ability to limit exposure to the outside world and control my son’s environment, is exactly WHY I need to send my son to school.
Sure, most parents want to protect their children’s innocence, but at times I take it beyond healthy concern to unhealthy anxiety and fear. If I don’t check myself, I have a tendency to “snowplow parent” and stifle my son’s growth and independence to keep myself from feeling anxious.
As most therapists will tell you, avoidance temporarily eases anxiety, but feeds it in the long-term. I could fall into the trap of thinking the only reason nothing bad happened to my son was my constant vigilance and sheltering him. Then my fears would be confirmed in my mind, grow, and perhaps transmit to my son. Neither my son nor I would win in that scenario.
By carefully researching his elementary school options and choosing one that made me feel comfortable, I found a good way to ease into my anxieties. That first day was still sad and scary for me, but it wasn’t for my son. That is important to me.
The beauty in both
Maybe my circumstances will change in the future and I will reconsider this choice, but at this point, I am at peace with the decision we made regarding our son’s education. In a world where some say you’ll ruin your child by homeschooling him and others say you don’t really love your child unless you homeschool him, I can see the beauty of both options.
Copyright 2019 Monica Portogallo