Community Vs. Socialization

New post up at WORLD: The “S” Word.

Socialization is a much-discussed topic among the educationally minded, but honestly, it’s a tired debate. Those who argue against homeschooling claim that homeschooled children don’t have enough opportunities to be involved with other kids so that they know how to behave properly. On the other hand, those who argue for homeschooling say their kids are so involved in outside activities with peers that they have trouble getting their homework done. Granted, I’ve overstated both sides, but you get the idea.

Like any good parent, I think there is definite value in my children knowing how to relate to others. I want them to be able to carry on conversations comfortably with people in their 50s (which they can), or to enjoy the presence of high school kids when my husband’s students join us for dinner (which they do). I want my girls to do a great job serving a mom with young children by playing well with her kids while she and I chat (which they have).

But none of this is going to happen magically because my kids are at home . . . or in school . . . or because I’ve enrolled them in children’s choir . . . or because they’re taking swimming lessons. Socialization (a more biblical idea goes by the name of “community”) takes intentionality, the kind I myself struggle to initiate and experience in my own socialized experience.

How do I model to my children a life of true community with faithful friends who will serve as anchors in life? Do my kids have friends who love at all times and stick closer than a brother? I’m suspect as to whether they do yet, but I pray one day they will.

Though the buzzword is “socialization,” living life in community is the real need. This is true regardless of educational bent, and something we as parents need to think more about for our kids . . . and perhaps for ourselves as well.