Helicopter Mom – Me?

If there is one thing that, until now, I have never been accused of, it is being a helicopter parent. If anything, more than a few of our children’s friends’ parents thought that my husband and I allowed our children too much independence. One of our daughters was incredibly upset that we did not sign her up for SAT review classes or care enough about her grades once she attended a ‘real’ high school.

Yet, as homeschooling increases in the United Kingdom, one British columnist has labeled me, by association and after the fact,  a “militant,” “arrogant,” and “controlling” mother who homeschooled to “dominate and diminish” my children. Wow!

To be fair, the author, Janet Street-Porter is willing to debate home-schooling mothers she knows and works with. Her strong language seems to more headline-grabbing than actually insulting. However, I think it is worth analyzing and rebutting her arguments.

While homeschooling has become rather mainstream in the United States, that isn’t so for much of the rest of the world. It is highly regulated in some countries and illegal in others, most notably Germany. When I was teaching my children, the most frequent accusation hurled at us was that we were hampering their socialization skills. That was laughable If you knew our outgoing children and the many friendships and relationships they had, but that tired allegation didn’t even make it into this article.

Instead, the article’s slant is the damage caused to British society in general and their  children in particular by parents take them out of the system. Ms. Street-Porter contends that those who don’t feel the school system is satisfactory from an educational point of view are  selfish to care only for our children rather than working within the system to improve academics for all. I admittedly am not familiar with British bureaucracy, but if it is anything like America, we’re not talking a fix that will be accomplished within the schooling lifetime of any student today.  Things are that bad and the status quo is too entrenched. I know many homeschooling parents who actively work to improve education on a community and national level. Doing the best for one’s own child doesn’t mean that you don’t care about anyone else’s.

Another accusation hurled at homeschooling parents in this article was a reluctance to embrace the necessity of discipline. Again, unless British schools are complete opposites from American ones, most homeschooling families are far more disciplined than classrooms, not less. Parents who are disorganized wimps can scrape by when their kids are out of the house for many hours a day. When the kids are always home, structure and routine usually co-exist with learning and play.

As for the recommendation that children must learn to handle bullying and that homeschooling to avoid it will reduce children’s resilience and ability to get along with others, I think that is completely misguided. Most parents that I know who homeschool in response to classroom, school bus and schoolyard bullying start out as reluctant homeschoolers.  They have worked with their children, the teachers and administration to try to solve the problem, all to no avail. They are making a difficult decision not to sacrifice their children’s emotional health.

The article closes with this paragraph: “Sadly, too many modern parents want to control every aspect of their children’s lives – monitoring their movements via special apps, calling them every few hours to make sure they are “safe”. Home-schooling is just another form of insidious control.”

One of the easiest ways to monitor your child is to put them in a controlled environment for most of their waking hours. In other words, send them to school. My children and many of their homeschooling peers were far more independent and had a wider variety of activities than their friends who marched in lock-step with twenty or so other children of precisely their own age. Dominating and diminishing my children? I prefer to think of homeschooling as assisting my children in reaching their full potential; propelling them aloft rather than helicoptering over them.

5 thoughts on “Helicopter Mom – Me?”

  1. We have 4 children & I NEVER thought I would homeschool! However, I am a nationally licensed speech pathologist & we live in the USA-Southern California to be more specific. I have to laugh when people say “how will your child be socialized?” Seriously, the majority of children are being taught abnormal socialization through school & home! Like the previous article states kids should be being taught balance of work/school & fun! Most boys in our neighborhood are addicted to video games and young girls are on Instagram far too much -comparing themselves to other people in regards to looks and vacations, they go to school, do homework and activities and then it’s on to games and instagram. Anyway, from a socialization standpoint I am happy to say that we are not teaching our children socialization but actually to be “real friends” which is freely choosing to be with each other and call each other- yes! On a land line!!!!!! Plus Homeschooling is amazing these days! I don’t teach any of the subjects. It’s more like how royalty was educated back in the day. We have a spanish teacher coming to our home. My son’s 4th Grade science teacher has 2 masters degrees one in nuclear engineering:) our history program is through a curriculum called story of the world and the children meet weekly to do a hands on art experience (with a professional artist) related to the reading as well as play age appropriate games!!!! I am blown away by all that God has made available to our family!!!! Plus I am getting the time with them which is invaluable!!! Anyway, I feel bad for people who would want to homeschool but can’t afford it. Children need love! Solomon has all knowledge and wisdom but he ended up unhappy. Connection is normal socialization!!!

    1. Carrie, I’m having fun just reading about your children’s education. Enjoy!

  2. When I taught chemistry lab at the local University… the homeschooled children generally did better… there was also a public “magnet” school with high standards (students had to keep up grades to stay in)… they also did better… thanks for keeping this topic front and center… public schools need to be fixed…

    1. Art, I assume the government school system is as much of a mess in England as in the U.S. The sad thing is that it is worst in neighborhoods where the kids really need the education because the homes are not providing it. There is so much that could be learned from magnet schools, homeschooling and other alternatives but instead there is often an attitude of enmity towards those options.

  3. This British columnist is indeed misguided, to put it kindly. I am a counselor in a community college where, from my experience, two groups of students have stood out as mature, responsible, and disciplined, more than any other groups of students. Those two groups are home-schooled students and Mormon students. Additionally, one of my former neighbors who home-schooled their daughter, raised a bright, sophisticated, well-rounded, socially mature young woman who would make any parent proud. She is now in her mid-twenties, college-educated, married, pregnant, and one of the most delightful young women I know. Are there parents who home-school because they want to control every aspect of their child’s life? Probably. And those same parents would do the same damage to their public-schooled children.

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