“Do your children ever disobey?”

Feeling wounded by her fourteen-year-olds Tyrannosaurus-like outburst, my friend slumped across the park bench.  She looked defeated as she told me about her son’s disappointment with their recent family celebration which she had cut short in expectation of the demands of his 4:30 am workouts.  “You never let me do anything fun!” he had yelled when she encouraged him to head to bed early, reminding him of the agreement they had previously made. 

“Why isn’t he grateful for my planning?” she asked mournfully.  I could see reflected in her face the same fear and alarm I’ve felt many times before.  Despite anticipating needs, despite showing love and logic, she was facing a teenager who was angry, defiant and disappointed.  I could feel her pain.

Then, in all sincerity, she turned toward me and said, “Do your children agree with everything you plan?” What a question!  None of my children were in ear shot, so I gave this answer with a completely straight face.  “My children agree with all of my plans.  They eagerly obey and participate and never make a fuss.”  This is not true, of course, but I said it to make my friend see how ridiculous that idea is.

This is not the first time this friend has expressed some version of, “do we face the same problems?”

If you have a challenge with your child, another parent has had the same child.  The things you are experiencing are not unique to you.  There are universal themes in all the difficulties every homeschooler faces.

We are common.

When we start thinking, “I’m the only one with this problem,” we draw an imaginary line of separation between us and our community.

We have similar difficulties.  We have similar goals.  Stop imagining you are the only one.

Reach out, find support.

Of course we want our children to be cooperative.  Of course we want them to recognize the brilliance of our suggestions and our ideas.  Of course we want them to obey. 

The developmental stages of teens involve disagreement.  Teens learn to define themselves by finding the edges of acceptable behavior.  Teens are managing unwieldy emotions.

All parents of teens feel unappreciated.  All parents of teens worry about the trajectory of their child’s behaviors.  All parents of teens are surprised at the inconsistent emotional and mental growth (at times astonishingly mature, and at times appallingly immature.)

Homeschoolers aren’t homeschooling because they have obedient children.  Homeschoolers aren’t from another planet.  The challenges are the same for all of us.