Sunday, February 15, 2015

In which I open myself to crossfire from all directions.

Hi, jane readers!

For those who might have bounced here from another direction, I wrote a piece for jane (an online magazine of sorts) about how and why Catie and Daniel are educated.

The comments section cracked me up no end. (A big thank you to all the supportive commenters, BTW. You're so sweet, and I wish I could have you all over for milk and cookies, or maybe just some wine.)

I figured I'd get some "homeschooling? That's for freaks and won't help them in the real world" comments. No big deal - I had to counter worse than that when explaining homeschooling to my own husband. He's one of my biggest supporters now, but he was against homeschooling before he got to know some homeschooling families. I figured I'd get some "Catholic school is for dweebs" comments, and that happened too. And I just KNEW I'd get some snarky comments about the factor that made Jake decide it was time to move Catie to private school - Jake went to pick her up from a school dance, and the 6th graders were twerking away to music we don't allow in our home.

Of course, those comments centered on how sick a man Jake must be, to translate the booty shaking motions as "too sexy, too soon". And I figured I'd get those comments, too - there were no surprises there. I know our parenting decisions are unusual (that's what makes a good article, after all), and I know there are a lot of people who disagree with homeschooling, Catholic school, religion in general, and the notion that people learn better different ways. That's OK, I don't need their approval (thankfully) to live my life or raise my children.

What I DIDN'T expect was a 14 year old girl would try to give me parenting lessons. I forgot that minors can get Disqus accounts, and she explained that sending Catie to Catholic school would cause her to rebel and act out sexually, that she (at the ripe old age of 14) was experienced enough to know that I must censor my kids, I was a major slut-shamer and a big war-on-drugs mama, and all her friends being raised with a religious upbringing were irrational, where she was logical. Her sexuality was not suppressed, she enjoyed it and enjoyed expressing herself that way.

When I had dried my eyes (laughing too hard), I made my best attempt to answer her in an appropriate manner.

We don't censor our children, we wait until they're older to introduce certain things. We don't deny sex education (as she insisted all Catholics do), we give appropriate education, teaching what the world says AND what our faith says. Sexuality is a beautiful, powerful, sacred thing. It's best saved for marriage, but I'm realistic - both my older two were born out of wedlock. I would hope that my kids would learn from my mistakes and save sex for marriage, but I understand. I really do.

So what I tried to explain to the 14 year old online, and to my own daughter, was that when you're among friends who are acting up sexually at a young age, it makes it seem more normal. And when sexual acts seem more normal at a young age, it can be easy to get physical when your body feels ready, but your mind and your heart can't handle the aftermath yet. Because sex is done with your bodies, but it involves every part of you - heart, mind, body, soul, spirit - and you are more than a bundle of nerve endings.

Your heart and mind and soul have value. You are so much more than just a body that experiences physical pleasure - a wonderful thing to be sure, but when your mind and heart are in agreement with your body, it's more than wonderful. It's real.

(Not saying what you've had isn't real. I'm saying that UNTIL it's real, it isn't. Make sense?)

And this isn't exactly what my Church teaches. It's just one mom, trying to make sense of all this and guide her kids the best way she can.