Sunday, May 5, 2013

What NOT To Do When Your Home Schooled Teen Rocks the Boat

Hi blog readers, if any of you are still around! *waves excitedly*

I am taking a ten minute block out of studying for finals to write this VERY HELPFUL post!  I hope that parents of home schooled teens will share near and far, because for some strange reason this does not seem to be common knowledge.  I am not sure why, except... well, maybe I do understand.   But at any rate, for whatever reason, some people need to know these things.  So, in case any of those who are at a loss are searching the web for help, here we go:


I hope you got them that phone as a lifeline to help no matter where they are.  The fact that they can talk to friends on it is a social bonus, but that is not the main purpose.  When your teen is rocking the boat, looking for more freedom or respect than you are ready to give, do NOT take their phone away. That is beyond stupid.  When/if they run away or leave home, how are you going to contact them?  That's right, you can't, you took their phone away!  And really, if your teen is out somewhere without your all-controlling protection, don't you at the very least want them to be able to call 911?  Seriously, stop and think.


If you take away the laptop they use for online classes, or take them out of co-ops and/or lessons, how will they get the education they need to become self-sufficient?  And if that is the point, and you are PURPOSELY ISOLATING THEM and sabotaging their ability to become independent by denying them access to education- you are in violation of human decency, at the very least, and quite possibly the law.

You don't have to give them unlimited access, but they need to get their school work done at the very least.

Remember HSLDAs advice to keep a prominent presence in your community as a means of avoiding a visit from social services?  That continues to apply when your little ones become teens.  You look like an abuser when you isolate your children from the community.  It may be because you are one, and if so, I hope you get busted. But it may be only because you're confused and afraid and got bad advice from an overbearing control freak, pastor, or both. Don't do it.


I never heard of this before I met C. online, but apparently some Christian author out there somewhere has promoted tethering your teen to momma 24/7 as an appropriate way to parent.  If any normal person hears about this, they will darn sure call social services, and well they should.  That is insane in the brain.  A teen is an autonomous human being, inexperienced but clearly capable of independent thought and action.  Shadowing is psychological torture, and you could even go to jail for it.  Don't be that person, bringing shame on the home school community, your family and your church.  Why do I even need to write "don't torture"?


 Making overbearing demands on people you don't know is NOT going to improve your position.  You will look like an ass, and everything your teen says about controlling parents looks 100% right on. Further, if you threaten them, then law-abiding adults have only one option: ask the teen to leave.
So what then?

Your teen is no longer with responsible adults, no one has any idea where the teen is and the teen doesn't have a cell phone.  Great, what if real trouble starts?  Would you really rather your teen be in a jam with no access to 911 than allow them to talk to friends you don't agree with?  That seems rather extreme.

Plus now, when/if your teen does speak to social services and mentions the threats of total domination of personal space (shadowing), social isolation and denial of education, there are responsible adults who can testify to your domineering behavior.

Smooth move, Ex Lax.


Teens love their parents.  They really do.  Most of them would do anything to get their parents to be proud of them.  The distance growing between you is a normal part of growing up.  Reach out in good will and bridge that gap with love.  Allow your teen to think differently than you do, believe different things than you do, like different things than you do, and show that you love and accept them just the same as always. That's how you win a teen's heart, and that is way more important than being "right".

And the one thing you SHOULD do:

TRUST.  Trust in your parenting, that all the years you spent have given a good foundation.  If you are a believer, trust in God who is everywhere, who sees all, and who loves all parties involved.  Why freak out in a tizzy if you have faith in God?  That seems to put the lie to all you claim to believe.

Finally, trust your teen.  Odds are good that your teen would love to come home, love to continue in relationship with you, if you would just stop being pompous, controlling, self-righteous know-it-alls and go back to being Daddy and Mommy.  Ever watch Intervention? The ones who are going to make it always have family members who:  Remember the good times and talk about them, show affection, express faith that the person in the jam can turn things around, and promise to love them always.

Then, and only then, do people start mentioning consequences.  Take a lesson here, and go and do likewise.

You're welcome.


  1. *waves excitedly back* hi! how are you? missed you!!

    What the heck is shadowing? Is it similar to tomato-staking a toddler (another reprehensible parenting tactic I've heard about on Christian mommy sites)?

    I see so many parents do such stupid things--all religious issues aside--and I've indulged in several stupidities myself. But I always come back around to my primary purpose: fostering autonomy and critical thinking so that my child can move in the world with confidence and compassion. I watch the Stupid Parent Tricks and wonder if people are actually trying to parent or just trying to cling to power and control?

    Admittedly, all the parenting gurus, religious or otherwise, have been loudly preaching ever more controlling and belittling behaviors of parents in the name of child safety or "getting ahead". But, really, people? Have we lost all perspective, that we should implement the idiocy de jour without checking it against our common sense? Or against observing our children to notice whether they thrive on love and trust or control and berating?

  2. Yep, Sandra, pretty much the same concept. Just with a teen instead of a toddler. =(

  3. i don't know if this is in reference to the recent abduction victims that were just found, but i just wrote this post on my private facebook when i realized that my situation was quite similar to theirs:

    "i wonder if my parents realize that towards the end of my time with them i was basically being held captive. i was not allowed on the computer at all. i was not allowed to drive the family vehicle anywhere. i had a joint back account with my dad that had $60 in it. my phone calls were closely monitored... and i wasn't allowed to leave or move out. i was 23 years old.

    i'm thinking through this as i read about these girls who were just rescued after 10 years of captivity. i was told that if i left my family my dad would find me wherever i was and make me come back to the family with him. it's hard and quite shocking to realize that in some small ways i really can compare my situation to these girls who are making national news headlines right now.

    when i finally left my family, i snuck out at night, not telling anyone, and walking to the end of the driveway where someone met me in a vehicle. they took me a couple's house who i had only quite recently met. they let me stay in their basement bedroom for a week until another friend picked me up from there and drove me about an hour towards NJ. there my cousins picked me up and took me to their house. i lived with them for about 2 months before my dad found out and threatened my cousin's kids (2 under the age of 10 at the time) with abandonment, telling my cousin that he shouldn't leave the kids in my care because when he (my dad) came to get me he would just leave the kids wherever he found them.

    so i moved again, to other friends' home, and literally no one knew i was living there for about 3 months. i would drive the opposite direction when leaving my grandparents' house so they didn't know where i was headed; i would get in my car when other people came over and pretend to leave so they didn't know i lived there, etc... finally the threat of my dad dragging me away lessened and i told my grandparents, and my mom about a year later."

    1. No, I wrote this in response to a young home school teen I know personally in the area. But that teen's parents were proposing to completely isolate the teen, as the near-total isolation he/she already experienced still allowed him/her time to think new thoughts. =(

      Boo to that teen's parents!

  4. the "shadowing" in my family consisted of one of the kids, whoever was the issue at the time, going with my dad to work. he was a carpenter/handyman, so we would just have to tag along and help him carry tools, or hold things, or whatever miscellaneous odds and ends he needed. often school still had to be done even if you were on the jobsite, so we'd sit in the workvan and work on school with our books. the point was to take stress off my mom at home and to have someone always "guarding" whoever was misbehaving.

    1. Now this creeps me out, as I had a local home school family owned carpet cleaning company come out, and their too young (late elementary?) son came with the father. I wonder if that was his punishment? I tried to be friendly with the kid, but he was very stand-offish. Eventually his mom unfriended me on facebook anyways. I think it was when I took a stand against the local father who shot his teen's laptop and put the video on YouTube. I live in a very crazy place.

    2. it's very likely if you knew they were a homeschooling family. sometimes my dad did just need an extra hand, and someone was ahead in school or something and it wasn't a punishment or guarding thing... i'm not sure that anyone could have told the difference though. :/

  5. Boy, point number 5 is true. It is true for teens - but also for young (or middle aged) adult children too.