Saturday, May 8, 2010

Number One Strangest Objection to Homeschooling...

I'm standing pool side at a crowded swim meet talking to a teammate's mother about homeschooling. Actually, we've only just begun to talk about home education after she asks where my children go to school. She is taken aback by my response. She reflexively looks at the 3 children at my side who are 6, 3 and 1-year old and blurts out, "But what about PROM?!"

This is one of those moments in life where one must create a reason to become occupied so as not to offend with uproarious laughter. "Oh dear, Button, what have you got on your shoe?" "Hmmm...Is your diaper full, baby?"

I just need a moment with that question. It almost always happens the same way; as a knee-jerk question born of honest incredulity. And it always makes me giggle shamefully as I wonder how on earth to satisfactorily answer such a question. I think the question has been asked of me at least a dozen times in the last 4 years by different moms.

I honestly don't remember what I've answered in the past. I hope I didn't say anything offensive or dumb. But really...

I went to prom. And I just can't reconcile my experience with the gravity of the posed question.

I planned it for months. Special ordered an expensive dress from a downtown boutique. Had a handsome and charming date. Details down to my handmade garter (yikes! Why on earth do they do garter dances at proms?) were all taken care of. My date went into debt to his parents for food, limo, tickets and what-not. We had a fine time. Life goes on.

I attended dozens of dance socials during high school and 6 formal dances prior to prom. Prom was the high school social dance experience on steroids and dad's credit card. A strong argument against homeschooling? I'm not seeing it.

But I do get the point. They really want to know why I would keep my children from the standard social lifestyle of "normal" teenagers. That's a much bigger question. If they really wanted to know how I felt about that can of worms I could tell them how I really feel about the modern prom scene.

We recently received our local newspaper which regularly highlights school happenings in our district. The main attraction this week was, of course, prom weekend. They showcased numerous photos of barely dressed young ladies with their starry-eyed dates and some silly quotes. One parent was quoted saying, "These kids are preparing for the best night of their lives!" My eyes flitted to a picture of a voluptuous young lady in one of those outrageous, but very popular, cut-out dresses (think bikini with a train) and to the young man at her side and I sarcastically thought: Yes, that young man is certainly hoping to have a delightful evening.

I can hardly help myself. I went to high school. Didn't you?

So, I'm a homeschooling fuddy duddy now, I guess, because I really, really don't care a whit about whether of not my kids attend a high school prom. Life is fertile soil for many beautiful and exciting experiences. Prom? eh. Been there. Done that. That's why I giggle. I can't believe I'm the only one who thought the hype was infinitely bigger than the actual beauty of the night. It is certainly not enough to keep me from giving this amazing experience of home-based education to my kids.


  1. Ha. What an interesting objection to homeschooling! Certainly not one I've heard before.

    Yeah, I went to homecoming, and prom all the years that I could. I enjoyed dressing up and whatnot, but when the day finally came, I sat at the dance depressed because no one had asked me to the dance. What fun is that? Out of the 8 or so dances, I only once had a date. I think it's only one more thing our society puts importance on that in the grand scheme of life means nothing. Like who gets a date and who's popular. Who gets crowned prom king or homecoming queen. I so do not miss high school.

    And yeah, do parents not wonder what goes on after prom? Or do they not care? It wasn't all that long ago that I was in high school. There were plenty of kids who went on to other places to drink or do drugs. I'm sure there was plenty of other immorality going on too. Funny how people think kids are deprived if they miss out on the scene..

  2. Funny you should bring this up because last night was our local "homeschool prom". Lots of modestly dressed young women and chivalrous young gentlemen enjoyed a night out with the friends they've known since elementary years. My kids are still quite young, and I agree, going to the prom doesn't make or break your future, but I guess it's nice to have a fun night out with friends, along with all the preparation for the day (without breaking the bank). We have lots of Catholic homeschoolers in the area, so something like this isn't too difficult to coordinate around here.
    I do think it's funny, though, how some people think they're raising a genuine issue or concern about homeschooling. My husband has even been known to reply to the "what about socialization?" question with "that's what people who don't know anything ask." :)

  3. Molly-We've had homeschool proms in our area, too. I think it's a wonderful thing for the kids! The pressure is off with finding a date, too, because everyone just arrives singly and then enjoys the general company. I DO love to dress up and plan on making opportunities for my dress-loving daughters to get fancy as they grow:).

    I think the primary issue for people is the institutional high school prom and similar socialization issues. I'm not sure they would see a homeschool prom the same way!

    I love your husband's comment! Oh, the things I would say if I had a quicker!

  4. Allison-I don't miss high school either. Huge social pressures. Not necessary for a good and successful life.

    I think parents do know what goes on after prom and other events. That's why they go to outrageous lengths to put together spectacular after-prom events and such. Really impressive stuff but it doesn't really stop problematic behavior. It's like a flimsy, pretty band-aid.

    Homeschooling does not stop all social pressure but it does allow more freedom for a young person to pursue a good life. My high school years were like being enclosed in a daily prison of the pain of isolation or rampant immorality. There is true freedom in a life lived for Christ but very few children are mature enough or spiritually developed enough to be able to cling confidently to the Cross during that time.

  5. I didn't go to prom...I broke up with my boyfriend too close to the prom date to have a date. I baby sat the night of prom and I do not feel at all deprived. While all the other kids were out spending their parents money, I was making some. I lived and really can't say that I feel I missed a thing!
    I truly feel badly for kids raised by parents who think that prom night is the most important night of their about their wedding night, the day their first child is born, I could go on and on and still not get to prom as being all that important.
    I admire you for not laughing in her face.

  6. Vicki-I think you hit the nail on the head when you compare the real joys of life with an artificially produced feeling of "joy." I do know people who loved prom night but those people generally spent the evening in the company of their best and truest friends. They probably would have had a comparably wonderfully night with those same friends wearing sweat pants and eating pizza. :)

  7. We lived in such a little town that I went to prom three times, twice with a boyfriend and once with a group of friends... and I had fun at one of them: the time I went with friends. And that was only because we were a silly group who'd taken ballroom dancing together in our drama club and who giggled and practiced the dances we learned while everyone else looked on like we were crazy.

    I definitely don't understand the hype though! I was so glad to get out of high school... I had a few friends who would talk about how it was the "best time of our lives" and I would think "are you crazy!?!?!" I spent high school counting the days until I was out!

    It wasn't until I became a high school cheerleading coach at our local high school that my husband and I began discussing homeschooling, and then became completely committed to the idea. It was horrifying hearing about what my 14-year old cheerleaders had already done with boys...

    My husband told me that a coworker started lecturing him last week when she found out that we plan on homeschooling. He said that midway through the lecture she said "what about socialization" and his response was "there's more than one way for children to be socialized."

    The response that frequently pops into my head when that comes up though is usually: "the type of socialization they would receive is exactly the reason that we are homeschooling!"

  8. Cam-I had to laugh at your reference to high school being labeled the "best time of our lives." While I hope that people have a good experience of their youth, I also hope that they would continue to grow in faith and love and know greater and greater joy as they travel on!

    I like your responses to socialization:). Sounds like you two are well-prepared for the adventure ahead!


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