For treatment: do nothing. Listen with sympathy to their concerns, but don’t accept the guilt. In truth, there is no blame. Oddly enough, like homeopathic medicine, the cure is like the cause. In each case, the young person had felt unprepared for some part of the outside world. Qualifying for a coveted spot in a demanding college program, working at a new job, interacting with new people. How many of us, confronted with a brand new experience, feel no fear whatsoever? I certainly do.
That’s what triggers Homeschool Regret. Faced with a new situation– college, the workplace– the young person feels fear. Not realizing that everyone experiences anxiety in a new situation, they mistakenly conclude that no one else feels as they do. What makes them fearful while others, they believe, ar not? Homeschooling sets them apart from their peers, so they blame it for their feeling unprepared.
A scant few months into his new course of study, Dan Billings found that, although others might have higher scores, it didn’t make them better prepared. As he told his relieved mother, “I already know how to study.” Over time, he recognized that his homeschooling experience gave him better preparation than the ordinary school kids he had so envied.
It took a little longer for Will Hedges to see the light. Eventually, though, his experience in the world of work demonstrated to him the superiority of his education. On paper, he might not look as qualified. On the job, he was a man among boys. He knew how to break a project down into doable pieces, how to prioritize his time to do critical tasks first, and how to overcome setbacks and still achieve. Those whose education relied solely on books lacked those vital work skills.
I haven’t heard from the Admiral lately. He may be one of the few who always blame homeschooling for his unhappiness. But I have heard from colleagues and fellow homeschoolers across the country, encountering this same malady.
The process of parenting involves the transfer of responsibility from parent to child. At birth, parents bear all the responsibility. The infant can neither feed nor clean himself. Left alone, the child will die. So parents must do everything. At the other end of the process, when the child becomes an adult, he bears the total weight of responsibility. He’s ready to be “on his own.” Failing to care for an infant means the parents are irresponsible. Failure for an adult to care for himself means he is irresponsible. So somewhere between birth and adulthood, a tremendous transfer of responsibility must take place.
Transferring responsibility from parent to child relieves the parent, as it encumbers the child. It seems parents would be eager for the transfer. But with responsbility goes authority, or, to put it bluntly, control. Schools attempt to maintain control to the end. They not only dictate class offerings and schedules, they dictate study halls and study times. Not surprisingly, most high school graduates act irresponsibly. Experience anxiety over moving into the world of college or workplace, they blame their fears on a lack of preparation in the schools.
The same holds true for homeschooled students. The more the parents have retained control over the educational experience, the more they have allowed the student to duck responsibility, the greater the likelihood of contracting “Homeschool Regret.” The cause suggests prevention and cure.
As soon as the child demonstrates responsibility in an area, he should be granted control. At each stage, then, the student encounters the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of attempting the new. Each hurdle cleared builds confidence, and earns the right to tackle the next one. Transferring the responsibility little by little reduces the threat level, and avoids the onset of “Homeschool Regret.” Otherwise, the inexperienced learner’s confidence plummets when faced with hist first, big, obstacle.