The most arrogant, out-of-control part of the homeschool movement is the idea that “homeschooling is not right for everyone.”
What does that mean? That you are special because you can homeschool but not everyone is as special as you?
This week, Time magazine reports that US public schools are worse than any schools in the developed world. New York magazine reported that poor kids do way worse in public school than rich kids do, and that kids of uneducated parents do way worse than kids of educated parents. Finally, the Heritage Foundation reports that most homeschoolers perform higher than average on state testing – regardless of the household income of the homeschooler.
So we need to squash the delusional, self-aggrandizing idea based in classism that “homeschooling is not for everyone.”
Here’s another way to think about it. We know that breastfeeding is very important for babies. It gives kids a boost in their immune system, and other health benefits, but it also gives emotional benefits related to the connection with the mom and the baby.
However breastfeeding is really hard. It hurts at the beginning. It doesn’t work at the beginning. The baby cries more because milk comes slowly. The mom cannot pass the task off to someone else, and she’s already exhausted. (You don’t see this in my picture, but trust me, it was there.)
On top of that, the recommended time to breastfeed is two years. This is really really hard for moms who have to go to work at a job at a fast-food restaurant. Where will they pump? And, by the way, I ask that question knowing that it’s number 93 on the list of problems a new mom has if she works at a fast-food restaurant.
So it’s easy to say that only moms who have a support system in place, and do not have to work full-time outside the home should breastfeed. But we don’t say that. Because it’s not true. All moms should breastfeed for two years. We have solid proof that this is best for the baby’s development. And, given the range of benefits to the baby, it’s safe to say that having all women breastfeeding for two years is best for society as well.
So now here’s my experience breastfeeding both kids for two years. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that every time I breastfed a one-year-old on the subway in New York City, someone would come over to me and tell me the kid was too old and I was disgusting.
What I’m going to tell you is that I was the breadwinner for the family, we were so poor at times that I cashed out my 401K, both kids were born with special needs, and we got eviction notices regularly. I also had a nervous breakdown and put a knife into my head and had to go to the hospital for mental health issues.
Still, would you really say that my kids would have been better off with me gone from them? Should I have worked outside the home because we were poor? Or on the edge of sanity? Or overwhelmed with other issues besides taking care of kids?
No. We had a hard life that was going to be hard whether I breastfed or not. Breastfeeding was really hard, and I got no sleep for five years, while I supported the family, but the decision to breastfeed is still right.
And I could make the same argument for staying home with kids. Wikipedia, of all places, comes right out and says that all the research about attachment points to kids needing a single caregiver during the first year of birth. This is not controversial. We can, with certainty, say that all babies should have a single person taking care of them for the first year. And, it’s probably going to be the mom.
Given that data, are you really going to say that breastfeeding is only right for some people? Why? You’d be lying. And the same is true with homeschooling.