I grew up very sheltered.

That’s actually an understatement.

I was homeschooled and there were times that, aside from going to church on Sunday, I didn’t leave the house for weeks or even a month at a time. I feel, as an adult, that it affected my ability to form friendships with people because I usually go through this incredibly awkward phase when meeting new people. I don’t know what to say and I get so nervous that I stutter and it’s embarrassing. Once I am around them awhile, and especially if they are good at making conversation, I feel much better. And actually, I think I am beginning to improve in this area. But it has definitely taken concentrated effort from me. Part of that is my personality, I’m sure. But I definitely think some of it comes from not having a whole lot of experience in social settings.

Side note: I don’t regret the fact that I was homeschooled. That wasn’t an issue. In fact, I actually liked that aspect of my life a lot because I didn’t have to get up super early every day and we often got extra time off from our homework because we were able to finish early. I graduated a year early too, so that was nice. One thing that I would maybe change for myself and would definitely do differently for my children if I homeschool them, would be to use different curriculum. I had to get my GED because the curriculum we used did not give us a diploma, even though we had good grades. It just wasn’t part of the program. I passed my GED easily but I always felt a bit embarrassed that I didn’t have an actual diploma. I know I shoudn’t feel that way and I don’t feel that way about other people who work hard to get their GED…. Anyway…..

My parents, espescially my mom, worked hard to shelter us from bad influences. I respect them for that. At the same time, I feel like I can speak from my past experience that issolating (versus protecting) your children from virtually everyone may keep them from learning things you don’t want them to learn, but only for a time. Kids form their own ideas and opinions about things and what they asssume to be true may very well end up being worse than the actual truth. That is why I will always try to be open and honest with my kids about the hard to talk about things, like drugs and sex and so on. I’m not sure what the appropriate age is to talk about these things with your kids but I know I certainly had some ideas about what sex was by the time I was 10 years old. When my kids ask me about it, I hope I will be able to explain these things to them in an age appropriate but honest way.

Even though I appreciate how hard my mom (and dad in his own, less extreme way) worked to keep us safe and innocent, I really don’t ever want my kids to live that shut off and recluse of a life. I was lonely sometimes. It helped a LOT that I had siblings. However, there is 5.5 years betweeen me and my older sister and almost 5 years between me and my next younger sister so I didn’t really have anyone my age to talk to, though I was/am very close to my sisters. I did have friends but I just didn’t see them often enough. When we finally did have plans to get together with friends, I was always grounded because I was a rather angry and mouthy teen (cussing my parents out would be the tip of the iceberg, unfortunately). It is/was obvious to me why I was so angry… because I was mad that I could never do anything or go many places. I just don’t think my mom was able to understand that because she grew up so differently that maybe she didn’t realize how it would feel to be that closed off. My younger siblings have SO MUCH more freedom than I ever did!

I think a big part of why my mom kept me at home so much was fear… Fear because she had bad past experiences. Fear because of things that happened to her sisters. I get that. And being vigilant is a good thing and I hope to always be aware and vigilant so I don’t put my children in compromising situations. But letting fear take over and letting it dictate your life is never a good thing. I don’t blame my mom at all and I’m not mad at her. I know she was just trying to keep her kids safe so they wouldn’t face any bad situations. She loves us and wanted to protect us. That I understand. But you can take a good thing way too far. Which I also understand. As a parent now myself, I am able to give her grace for her mistakes as a parent because this job is hard and I get that now. I struggle with my own fears for my children, which are different than hers but just as present, I would imagine.

I’m not really sure what I’m even trying to say here. I guess I’ve just been thinking about it a lot lately and trying to use my childhood experiences to say “This is what was good and this is what I didn’t like. What can I do to find the right balance for my children?”

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