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Socialization Through Social Media

February 24, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve discussed social media in various forms in the past, but this was based on a short timeline. After almost ten years of allowing and monitoring my sons on social media sites and Xbox, I have arrived at a conclusion that has defied my original thoughts. On our way home, my soon to be former-educator and I talked about how social media, particularly Xbox, has affected our children and their socializing skills.

Socialization continues to be the biggest concern with skeptics of homeschooling. Knowing a few college professors whose wives homeschool, they constantly worry about their child’s social skills. We have been contacted on a number of occasions about how well-adjusted our sons are. We live in a rural area with little opportunity to have a strong connection with homeschool groups without placing much energy and effort into it. One homeschool group required us to be a member of their church otherwise, they would shun us even though we were included for a short time. Very Christian of them, don’t you think? Those belonging to our religious faith were an hour away. Our options were limited. We had a long drive to a group, sports, scouting, and other clubs that my sons would enjoy.

All of these options have pros and cons. Scouting wasn’t for one son while sports didn’t work the for the other. The long distance homeschool group worked on a partial scale, but the distance became prohibitive. There were local friends, though not numerous enough and this required a lot of work as well. When you are not going to the same school, the relationship begins to whither. The public school begins to distort the friendships as the negatives of public school bring out the worst in our youth. I do not especially blame the school system for it has more to do with parents, teachers, and our society’s belief that our youth are capable of thinking and acting like adults. Our public schools are hurting our children simply for the fact it is a conduit for the new societal laziness in giving our youth too much responsibility in decisions and sensitivities. This is worth another post with studies showing my point. This is where social media steps in.

Social media is like any other tool or option. It is only as good as you allow it to be. As a parent, if you do not monitor, social media becomes evil while if you over-monitor you become the issue. It is a balancing act. I hate Facebook, but I joined in order to monitor my children. Yes, I have twitter and a few other accounts that I hardly if ever use. Why? I am a parent, and it is my job to regulate and censor if need be. This is no different than me being visible at their scouting and sports functions. I do not let other people raise my children. Another aspect is the strict adherence to respect for other people that are expected of my sons whether online or in person. They understand that people are special and treating them with kindness goes a long way to helping that individual.

The biggest mode of media is Xbox, Minecraft, Runescape, Instagram, and Tumblr. The gentlemen use smartphones, computers, and the Xbox as the pathway. It is by my family law that I have free access to all of their work. This method may not be perfect for items can be deleted before I view, but it does send a message to my sons that I am involved and do care. Being an active parent is the biggest part of social media success. I have rules of no pictures on Facebook or personal information, though I can’t stop others from providing or fully stop my sons should they choose to do so. How has the social media worked?

You do get bullying, but this is found more prevalently in public schools and in the streets. There is no change. What I have discovered are the international relationships that have been developed from friends in Canada, Mexico, Australia, Sweden, and other countries to even the national friendships. Friendships wane as they become incompatible, and older friendships have been the most beneficial, though I closely monitor that. The older friends, when properly selected, have protected my sons in situations of language, sex, and other inappropriate situations. This new style of relationships is alien to me as I grew up with the face to face relationship. The relationships between groups of friends are monitored and more democratic than what I saw on the sports field or scouting. Adults have less control over the social media youth, which allows them to grow. Xbox, Minecraft, and Runescape have been one of the largest positives in my family in terms of socialization. Through Minecraft, my oldest learned the failures of socialism and how it evolves into totalitarianism (again, another topic). My youngest finds joy in helping new people as does my oldest.

Downsides come from those with issues such as the young girl whose parents do not care about her, and now she exhibits suicidal thoughts or the parents that do not monitor their child’s activities. I see that and read it. I’m known as a stalker in the family because I research these potentially influencing people. Who are they? What is their intent? My sons, now older, are too inexperienced in life and wisdom to always make the correct decision, so that is where I, a parent, come in. It is my job to counsel them on mitigating the negative influences. There are those out there to corrupt our youth, and they will provide pornographic links often time specializing in homosexuality. How do I know? I am a parent and I monitor as well as educate my children.

My sons have developed some long term friendships with people from different countries. They have not met, but they sing, talk, discuss personal issues, and help each other solves problems without ever being face to face. The make fun of each other, pick on each other, care for each other, and are there for each other. Socialization has been a key component of being online, but what makes it successful is my allowing it to grow. I accepted the negatives and work to mitigate them, but I won’t limit my sons to access the world simply for the fact I don’t understand. One thing that surprises many parents is that I have no time requirement for my children. I have let them play ten hours and have asked them to stop after two. What I notice is they are never sneaking when the privilege is lost unlike many of my friends that have strict time limits. We have rules, but these are rules within a standard family construct and does not target online activities. Online socialization does not work under an hour. Sometimes it takes hours.

As a means of socialization, the internet through social media is very useful. I continue to encourage face to face relationships but do not shy away from electronic relationships. When a child states that social media has kept him sane, then there must be something good. I do not know what the studies will show in the future about our online interactions, even though there are early studies out showing some concern. I do know that a healthy dose of face to face and online relationships are very healthy for socialization skills. Our children NEED both. If there are two takeaways for homeschooling parents or any parents, it is these: Be a parent and monitor your child’s activities and do not stifle their social media exploration. You fail as a parent when you place unreasonable constraints or do not monitor your children.

 

Retrospect of homeschooling

Our family is nearing the end of our homeschooling journey as we begin the last two years of homeschooling, unless a miracle happens. No miracles are expected. The journey has been tiring as well as educational. Robert Frost’s poem, Road Not Taken, comes to mind. I am left with a reminder of the second line of the first stanza, “And sorry I could not travel both.”

Homeschooling for our family disconnected us from the community we lived in. Living in the country didn’t help keep us connected to the community, either. Without immediate family, there was no one capable of understanding our educational situation. Even the several homeschool groups we belonged to did not alleviate the loneliness of homeschooling. Religious groups can be callous to others in their blindness to adhere to their version of Christianity. Sort of contradicting to their beliefs. Even local homeschoolers may not bond with your family because of homeschooling beliefs or other types of beliefs. I have a neighbor who homeschools, but we are not close or connected because of the age differences. Other local homeschoolers had different viewpoints about life, which kept us from uniting. Some alienated us because of religious beliefs while others may have opposed our parenting. Honestly, this isn’t that different from non-homeschooling families.

Where we found other homeschoolers to be extreme in many cases, non-homeschooling families were distrustful of us. Most could not understand why we were homeschooling and based their relationship on this point alone. If the public school was good enough for their children then why isn’t it good enough for my children? We were pushed aside simply for the fact they didn’t understand why we homeschooled. Many thought it was for religious reasons and would make poorly designed statements about creationism and evolution. Had they actually used their brain and listened or observed my family, they would have found my family to be mixed with that belief. Part of the family are evolutionists and another section creationists. We still have these fun philosophical debates in the family. Unless I were to outwardly state that we are homeschooling for another reason than religious, these people maintained the belief that my family was a religious extremist group. Barrack Obama even hurt us with the clinging to religion and guns comment. Thanks Barrack for the callous and insulting remark – neither of which my family outwardly expressed, but were attached to his statement nonetheless.

This path we selected produced one amazing effect. Our family has developed a close bond that is missing in many families. We are united as one in many respects. We defend, help, and protect each other. We have experienced America together, enjoying each other’s amazing discoveries. We understand our weaknesses and look to shore up these flaws. We are a connected family that sacrifices for each other. We express sympathy, empathy, and an outward hand towards those outside of our family. This is what homeschooling has given to us other than a well-rounded education.

We tried to travel both paths as my family included homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers in our associations. My sons were encouraged to play sports and participate in dances even at the high school. We were never opposed to my sons getting to together with other youths whether homeschooled or not. Our goal to educate and make a better man of our sons is not yet finished, but we believe the choices we have made has made a difference in them. They are as thoughtful and accepting, and that alone is worth our decisions. As we near the end, we could only take one road. Looking back on our beginning, our family took the road less traveled, “and that has made all the difference.”

The hardest part

January 15, 2016 Leave a comment

My oldest has been in college for a few years, now. This means that in several years he will have to disconnect from our household and start a new life. The base of his living won’t be at our house or  the chances of it are slim. It is during these thoughts I realize how much I will miss him.

For most of our life together, we have done little together. We have sleep, work, and other activities to suction away our time. The moments where we could spend time together are further stolen with activities he wants to do and activities I want or have to do. This leaves the two of us with little time together. The best I can hope for is usually his presence. I get a satisfaction of knowing he is around.

As a parent, we seldom realize the noise a human makes. It is not necessarily the vocal part of noise for there is physical noise and a residual noise. The physical noise is the person being in the house. I know when my son is around because I see him pass by or using some item within the house. This is the physical noise. The residual noise is what the person leaves behind. For my son, these are dishes, laundry, whatever he was playing with, and the open garage door. It drives us up a wall, but when you are without your son, you actually miss it. Wait! Did I say that?

I never understood my parents reaction to my being away, especially when I moved out. They were always encouraging me to come home. My life was full of, well, life. I couldn’t find the effort to always travel the two hours or more to go home. My parents home became a source of boredom, because there was nothing of interest there. My parents were happy to have me in the house, but I didn’t understand. They could continue with life while I struggled to find something to do at the house. It was no longer my home. They were reclaiming what I am now seeing – a loss.

To spend so many years dedicating your life to your offspring is very hard but satisfying. The most difficult part is the separation, more so than the birth of our children. Now throw in homeschooling and it is compounded. We have homeschooled our children for so many years that our lives are happily more intertwined than ever. I was a part of my son’s education. I would trade the frustrations for anything. I just wish I understood them better.

It is hard for me, a person with a cold and emotionless demeanor, to cope with this. Much of what bothers me is kept inside while a rigid human presents a rock of stability. At the death of my father, I never cried but only appeared to be the stable person with the ability to continue one, after all I understand death is normal and will happen to all of us. Still, all of it is difficult.

As I look into the future, I see a change that brings a bittersweet emotion. I will happy for my son’s new life but be saddened for the loss I will encounter. My memories will fade until reminded by his visit. My consolation of understanding what my parents desired and understood does not bring the comfort I seek. Instead, I must soldier on and adjust to life just as my son will do. The best I can have is the comfort of my wife. In the end, half of my life will go away and grow elsewhere. Will I finally weep and such a wonderful but sad loss?

Birth Order Baloney

May 30, 2015 1 comment

There are many beliefs people have and most turn out to be nonsense. Even homeschooling parents can get things wrong. I am quite certain there are mistakes in my beliefs about issues. Often times we are met with a coincidence and believe there is some special meaning or reason to the event. It is important that we sometimes detach ourselves from issues or subjects we are not familiar with and assess what we know, in order to get the proper perspective.

I was reading a homeschool parent’s blog about birth order recently. She was talking about the needs of children particularly the firstborn. There was a list of firstborn characteristics: reliable, conscientious, structured, cautious, controlling, achievers and perfectionists. As I read these while thinking of firstborns, I was chuckling at the silliness of this myth. Allow me to counter this.

My oldest child has none of these characteristics. If we are simply looking at this black and white. He’s not controlling or a perfectionist whatsoever. Reliable? Sometimes yes and no. He isn’t even structured. If you describe my son with these seven words, I wouldn’t recognize him. If I look at my oldest sibling, these do not apply either. My spouse’s oldest sibling is none of these, too. As I went around looking at firstborns I know, not one matches these descriptions. Does my youngest have any of these? Again, not really. These words are simple too simplified not unlike going to a fortune teller who provides you with generalizations. It sounds great but not really.

She continues on with education. The reality is my oldest sibling has only a bachelors degree. No different than anyone else in my family except my middle sibling and I have take graduate courses. Again, my spouse’s oldest sibling never went to college and has the least amount of education. As I search families I know, the idea of the firstborn having more education if basically false.

Are firstborns natural leaders? Yes and no. The simple truth is anyone can be a leader. This kind homeschooling parent is forcing her children into spots while ignoring the reality. She is ignoring some characteristics while applying those she wants to fit into her idea of firstborn needs.

Are there differences between siblings? Yes. Each child experiences a different reality or childhood if you will. Does position in a family matter? We know firstborn children are treated differently by parents for this is their first child and the parents are learning, Having a second child affects the firstborn depending the age of the firstborn. There is a change in family dynamics and the age of the first child makes a difference on how the child reacts and experiences. The same applies to the second child and so forth.

Here are more of her examples. “To be noticed and appreciated.” Everyone needs this. “To be trusted to self-correct.” What does this even mean? “Some alone time with Mom and Dad.” Doesn’t every child need this? I could go on, but this is poor advice from this well-intentioned homeschooler in my opinion.

We can’t pigeonhole a child to a particular characteristic. When we reads books about child raising, we need to scrutinize the author. Even authors that appear to be qualified can be most unqualified to talk about the subject. Observe your child and go with what you believe your child needs. Birth order has some type of influence but it is the environmental sources and genetic design of your child that dictates the most. If your child has a need, meet it.

Enjoy your children and do not try to categorize them.

The Nest Is Getting Bigger

November 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Today, I’m feeling somewhat depressed. There is no reason for me to have such feelings. Life is generally good, and I am healthy for my age. The wear and tear is standard though excessive in some areas. Hey, it’s my own dumb fault. No one to blame but me, but this isn’t my cause of the depressed feeling.
It is my oldest son. He is the cause or should I state the indirect cause. You see, I am thinking about next year or even this summer. This bird will leave the nest for an extended period of time. As much as I say it won’t bother me, inside I know it will. I will and am full of regrets of not doing enough with him. I should have played chess yesterday instead of read 100 pages for my class. I should sit with him a while and talk instead of some other task. We should have taken those promised hikes. Who is going to help me with various tasks that I regularly relied upon him to assist or do?
As much as I dream of the day the Educator and I have our lives together, I will miss my children the day they leave. I am entrenched in the lifestyle of having two children living at the house. There is a pleasure to be able to walk past a room and peek at your child or hear them. They have no idea of why I asked them to do tasks with me. Secretly, I want their company. I want them to enjoy what I enjoy in order to spend time with them. This is my secret and why I am feeling down. My son’s departure is on my mind. He has spent 18 years with me. This is more than the time I spent with the Educator, alone. This lifestyle has had me sacrifice much in my life. I really do not miss it and would not trade the time with my kids for any of what could have been.
Oh, I’ll get over this unnecessary feeling. In time I will adjust to his departure. It is normal for my child to leave and venture on his own. I will miss him terribly but enjoy observing his life progress. This leaves me to think of my parents. How much do they long for me to come home and visit?

Categories: Family Life Tags: ,

Parent Responsibility

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

Growing up in a small town outside the big city, my parents knew my every step. They didn’t have to follow me around or even have me call them to say where I was. There was no need. A network of communication was in place to do that for them. If I caused any trouble they knew about it minutes after I was involved. These were my “nosy” neighbors. This and my parents rules to go along with a curfew kept me in line. My friends around the block had the similar rules.

I see little of this today. Children are given responsibilities far beyond their developing brain. You see ten year old children staying home while the parents either work or go out. In my youth, I was sent to a neighbor’s house with explicit direction from my parents. I would not cause any trouble nor ask for anything. My task at the neighbor’s was to be seen, not heard.

Today we have teenagers causing problems on a consistent basis such as the teen mob attacking people at a Kroger grocery store. What is going on with not only these teenagers but their parents? If you see the video of this event, you see no respect for humans. This is happening at night no less.

I will not claim this as a modern incident. There have always been teenage violence and mayhem. It is the scale of this event as well as the frequency that makes it disturbing. You could blame the herd mentality but that is not the cause. The cause is from multiple areas such as the reduction of religion in America. Religion is losing the grip on society as an important moral institution. Another cause for concern, is the availability of materialism. Materialism isn’t old but easier to be involved in. Years ago, it was expensive to be materialistic. Today, both parents work in order to accumulate recreational goods. I would even blame the internet as another source. Teens do not engage in human interaction. They engage in electronic interaction where they are not accountable for their actions. There is a sense of narcissism with these teens.

I find teenagers with parents that have rules to be more successful. When education is emphasized in a family, there is fewer unacceptable incidents. Families showing respect to their children have responsible children. Parents involved in their children’s life have fewer issues with their children.

As parents. As adults, we need to display a positive lifestyle for our children to emulate. We need to provide rules and boundaries for our children to adhere to. We need to respect our children and listen to them.

Categories: Family Life

Ronco actually made a decent item

Today is my turn to make a meal. It is rotisserie chicken, corn and another veggie. We have apples for fruit. The rotisserie was not my decision, but my lovely spouse asked for it. Who am I to say no.

I never bought the Ronco machine. My parents gave it to me. The first thought was to put it away somewhere until a day came where I could toss it out. My thoughts are not positive on the tely items. It must have sat for a few months until we had a small chicken. It was my turn to cook, and roasting a chicken is too much work. An idea popped into my head and a decision was made. The Showtime Rotisserie was brought out and put to use.

That was roughly ten years ago and today I’m making chicken. That should tell you that the machine works. I’ve done a few other items but chicken is mainly what we use it for. It produces some of the best chicken. I’m sure it’ll make decent ribs. I have yet to try this for the charcoal grill has dibs on the ribs.

The biggest pain of this machine is cleaning. SOS pads to the rescue. I scour the entire inside of the machine as well as the removable parts. The faster I get to cleaning the easier it is. Many times the removable pieces are soaking in hot, soapy water as I eat. The biggest downside to this is the person responsible for cleaning the machine – me. The spouse gives the job to me, and the two lads are normal teens where shortcuts are better than no cuts.