Who Needs Socialization?

Socialization is one of the big bugbears of homeschooling.  Why does everyone worry about socializing homeschoolers?  Does no one realize the dangers lurking in those waters?

What most people mean when they say socialization is peer time.  While I have had many a happy hour with friends, I recognize that spending time with peers did not help me grow up.  At least not after a certain point.  I did learn some things from interacting with friends, but I was learning the same lessons from myparents and my siblings.  My friends could only teach me how to act like a child because that’s what we all were, children.  Since growing up is the main business of childhood, peer time does not seem all that important to have during childhood.

Now move to middle and highschool.  Here, I learned even less from my peers.  And think – the peers I am talking about were all either kids I knew at church or from the homeschooling community, and in most cases, both.  In my opinion these are the peers from whom I was most likely to have learned something.  And I only learned that I am not interested in typical teen conversations.  Some reflection on homeschooling if homeschoooled teens are hard to tell apart from any other teens!

I was pretty well off in regard to my friends.  I did not learn much good, but I also did not learn much bad.  The stories I hear from other people indicate to me that other teens learn some rather bad habits among their peers, including cliquishness, flirting, and the running down of both siblings and parents.  Why on earth do parents seek this for their children?

Socialization is not inherently bad.  The trouble is that most people assume it should be done among those close to your age.  Let’s take a step back and look at the big picture.  Childhood is actually a very small portion of the normal life span.  Now, when we reach the adult world, who are we going to socialize with at work, at church, and in the community?

The answer is people of all ages, and mainly adults.  While we may find friends who are very close to our own ages, the fact is that many of us will also have very close friends who are some years older and can give us advice.  We may also eventually be the older friend giving advice.  Does socializing with our peers prepare us for this?  I think not.

Why should we worry about socializing with peers when we have siblings?  One of the main benefits of homeschooling is that brothers and sisters can interact with each other, develop good relationships, help each other learn.  I know some siblings can’t stand each other, but I don’t think we are born fighting with our siblings.  I think it’s often learned from our peers.

Why should we worry about socialization with peers when we have parents?  We learn most from those who are modeling adulthood.  Our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and their friends can all show us much more about how to be an adult than any teenager knows.  Of course, parents have the most influence, being on the spot all the time, but others in our families and at church are also good candidates for socialization.

Growing up, I always socialized with adults.  I liked to tag along with my mother after church, listening to her talk.  I did not understand half of it when I started, but in time I could follow pretty well.  Later, I started my own friendships with those same friends of my mother’s.  They were interested in my life, and they were always happy to talk about themselves too.  I learned how to converse with adults much better than I understood how to interact with my peers.  Maybe that is part of why I never fit in with my own age group all that well.

In any case, I loved to talk to those who knew more than me.  Picking up bits of wisdom was much easier when I did not have to do the thinking all by myself.  I learned much from interacting with people of all ages and from all manner of backgrounds.

Granted, associating with other Godly young people can be a good thing.  We can benefit from having someone near our age who is pursuing the same path we are.  Not everyone who is young is as immature as the rest.  A few among us have benefitted from our seeming isolation to become stronger individuals with less inclination to follow the herd and more inclination to think on the things of life and Godliness.  When you find a friend like that, cultivate that friendship!

Still, since generalizations are fun to make, I have indulged in one of my own. 

Associating with youth makes you younger, only those with years to spare should engage in it regularly.”

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Explore posts in the same categories: Friends, Growing Up, Homeschooling, Parents, Siblings

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