Sunday, August 28, 2011

Active Interaction Vice Passive Interaction

I thought of this concept today at church when we were discussing how to improve our time with our families.  I've noticed that when we interact with our families we are either passively interacting with them, or actively interacting with them.  To help illustrate what I mean think about times where you were watching a movie with your family.  All of you are in the same  room and watching the movie, but everyone is passively sharing the experience.  Now think about a time when you are discussing what vacation you'd like to take next with your family.  Everyone is participating and sharing thoughts and ideas about where you'd like to go and the things you want to do.

Although I am just as much at fault for passively interacting with my family as the next man, you create a better relationship with your family when you actively interact with each member.  Taking the time to talk to your kids and spouse helps you understand what is going on in their life.  It creates shared experiences you can use to help you through difficult times in life.  It can help bring you together as you become involved in what the other person is doing and not simply by being present in the same room, although being present is almost always better than not being present.

So, I write this blog to challenge myself and other dads out their to incorporate more active interaction into your relationships with your family and see what benefits it brings.

Home Schooling For Men Part 1

In the next few posts I wanted to discuss home schooling and some of the perceptions of home schooling.

I have heard from my wife on occasion a number of woman who wanted to, or would like to homeschool, but they haven't or won't because their husband isn't supportive.  I can picture in my mind how the scene plays out (it's happened a time or two between Cherie and I :-)).  It starts out with your wife telling you about something she's been studying, researching, reading, and/or talking about with someone else and almost immediately you start to think, "please don't change how we do things, I just got used to the way were doing things now."  As you listen to what she has to say, you realize that what they're saying isn't bad per say, but it's not something you are ready to delve into.  So, you say something to the effect of, "Well, I'm not ready to go down that path, but if you're willing to put the time and effort into it, then by all means have at it.  Just don't expect me to do too much right now."  What you really mean to say is, "I'm comfortable with how things are, so don't change anything."  This attitude of "do what you like at your own expense" is the first major hurdle you might have to overcome, and definitely won't help your wife and children in their transition to home schooling.

The above mentioned attitude might not be the only thing stopping you from accepting and supporting your wife and kids from being home schooled.  There are probably a number of prejudices, perceptions, and misconceptions of home schooling which needs to be addressed and/or resolved before you can consider home schooling seriously.  Thinking back on my first introduction to home schooling, I probably had the same concerns most men do, not the least of which was socialization.  (I dare say by mentioning that socialization was even a concern my wife is probably rolling her eyes, getting ready to point out a blog post she wrote on the topic, or preparing to write another one about the matter.)  I was worried my kids would be weird, socially awkward misfits, and that they would be missing out on a lot of valuable friendships and experiences school has to offer.  When I went to school I had fun, had a lot of great friends, did some very awesome things and I wanted my kids to have the same experiences.  Let's face it.  You want to be able to relate to your kids, and what better way to relate to them than to have a shared experience like school.  Plus, let's not forget the potential benefits to your wife of having time to herself during the day depending on how many kids you have and how old they are.

Let's start with the prejudices, perception, and misconceptions of home schooling.  Honestly in my home I don't really think of what my wife and I (mostly my wife) do as home schooling.  I prefer to call it, "Independent Studies with a focus on Leadership Education."  Firstly, it sounds more collegiate. And secondly, it more accurately describes what we're trying to do with our children.  But, rather than debate semantics with people every time they ask if we home school, I just say we home school.

Now let's talk about socialization and the perception that your kids will be socially awkward and/or weird.  If you and/or your wife are socially awkward, weird, different, etcetera, then chances are your children will be that way too.  If their strange at home, they'll probably be strange at school, and school is a very unforgiving place to learn that something you do is not accepted amongst the masses.  Now let's say that you are the optimum of sociality, there is still no guarantee they won't develop their own quarks, which again could land them into that unforgiving school of learning by getting teased.  Thinking back on my own public school experience the sociality I learned was about how to be cool and how not to be made fun of.  Lest you think I have some vendetta from my own experience, I don't.  I wasn't made fun of in school, and I was generally accepted amongst all groups, but I was no idiot either.  I learned from the mistakes others made.  The mistake most kids made was they were different from the cool kids.

At the heart of public school socialization is peer pressure.  I'm sure there are exceptional schools where peer pressure at school moves kids to be more studious, learn their strengths, learn to be more compassionate, moral, honest, and learn there are no limits to what they can accomplish if they put their minds to it.  However, I would venture to say the norm of public school peer pressure is quite the opposite.  It can take a child who loves to read, accepting of others, and who loves to learn and turn them into someone who throws books under the bed, makes fun of others, and who would rather sit in front of a video game all day rather than take time to learn about the world around them.  When they enter into junior high school and high school the social pressures go up.  They are pressured into imitating an adult world they think they understand.  They will be exposed to things that could influence the rest of their life.  If I as a father can teach my five and six year old to stand firm in their morals as well as continue to develop their love for education and learning, then I will.  I believe then best way to do that is by teaching them at home, where their social pressures are that learning brings happiness, enlightenment, and appreciation for life.  I will give them a firm foundation so that when they are at the age where they enter the heavier social pressures of imitating what they think adult behavior is cool, then they have all the tools to withstand and make the best and correct decisions.  Home schooling (at least at my home) isn't about shielding children from socialization, it's about teaching them correct socialization.  It's exposing them to teams, interaction with adults, acceptance of others despite what age they are, teaching them how to talk in front of groups, teaching them that to take changes without fear of being made fun of, and teaching them so much more than public school can about how to correctly socialize with others.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Start

This is the first blog post to my site, and as such I will start by talking about why I wanted to create a blog in the first place.  So, I'll jump into the reason why...

I wanted to share my thoughts on life, child rearing, homeschooling and other stuff from a father/dad/husband's perspective.  Over the last few years my wife has been the one who will write down her thoughts on her blog and often those thoughts have benefited others.  I haven't done a lot of research on the web to know just how many blogs are out there similar to the one I'm creating/forming, but I figure another man's input on the above mentioned topics couldn't hurt.  I guess at the basic blogger's level one hopes their blog will help others in some way.  So, I'm giving it a try.  Before I write anything, I must include a disclaimer.

Here's the disclaimer: I do not claim to know it all, or have original thoughts.  I'm sure there have been men and woman before and after me who have and will say the same things I do, and perhaps in a more eloquent way or with more authority.  Please take what I have to say with a grain of salt.  I understand that not everyone will share my views, and I understand there are many differing situations and circumstances that won't apply to any advice I may include in future posts.  If my future posts offend the reader, know that I do not intentionally write to that end.  However, I'll write what I believe to be right, righteous, correct and of value, and if that offends the reader, there is not much to be said or done.

Again, I have no idea how future posts will evolve this blog.  My intent is to help and encourage others.  If I stray from that, then I guess that's the way my blog will go, and hopefully I won't stray too far off the path.  Well, enjoy the future posts.

P.S., feel free to asks questions.  Questions help spark discussions and thoughtfulness.  I can't guarantee I can answer them all, or that I'll answer them, but they definitely can't hurt.  If they do, I think I can just delete them. :-)