I sat staring at this for a while when I first read it, because there are a stack of layers. My first reaction was one of those allergic sort of ones –
“You’ve been ‘told’ – sounds like one of those scenarios where someone who has heard a thing about homeschooling, despite never having experienced it themselves, has decided to educate you on the pitfalls of the path you’ve chosen for your children. Gah, I hate that.”
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that…in our family at least…it’s actually true. We spend a lot of time together, and we’re very connected in ways that others might call dependence. Our 8 year old climbs into bed with us to fall asleep almost every night. Our 13 year old likes us to stay parked nearby when we drop him at places like drama class or sports practice. Our 15 year old has only just switched from calling us ‘mummy and daddy’ to ‘mum and dad’.
You can call that dependence, with a negative tone. Or you can call that connection. You can say these children need to grow up a bit, or you can see their dependence as a healthy part of a child’s development. As laying a stronger foundation for later. As something they’re part of building and preparing for, not something that’s forced on them before they’re ready.
The great irony in the idea that children need to become independent and resilient is that when we force those things too soon they don’t. They harden themselves, yes. They find ways to protect themselves, yes. But that is not true independence. It’s self-defence, self-preservation.
Back to the question, and I think the real issue is not that homeschooled children aren’t learning to be independent of their parents. It’s that we’re confusing that whole idea with hardness and detachment.
So does it matter to me that my children are still dependent within our family unit, and likely will be for some time yet? Nope.
What would matter to me is if they weren’t.
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