Monday, 22 June 2009

'To be or not to be' friends

I just met an old friend in Tesco, who said she had noticed my links on Facebook and that what she was going to say was probably going to end a long friendship.

What she then went on to tell me was that she thinks all children should by law be in school, she thinks the way I bring up my children is a form of child abuse, but that she defends my quirky oddities when talking to others who criticise me (!!!!) because she has always found my arguments clear and logical.

This is not how I have always found hers, but she is fun and warm and a laugh and good company so our friendship has survived many differences of opinion.

I think that the way I allow my children to make their own choices is at the heart of her opinion, one of my children has gender disphoria and I thoroughly support his choice in being the person he feels he is inside. Another, though choosing school finds the intensity of the timetable too much, I allow him to decide when he goes and when he doesn’t. Remembering my own schooldays I know I could have achieved more if I had had this choice. My last child struggled more at school than any of the others, saw a news item on home education and gave a lengthy impassioned plea to be home educated. It was not convenient, I was enjoying my job, I was enjoying my peace, but her arguments were clear, logical and undeniable. It has been a steep but amazing learning curve for me. I have never slotted so easily into a social situation before. I have done and learned many things that I never otherwise would have and acquired a certain political awareness and a campaigning spirit.

When I had children my wish for them was that they would be able to be thoroughly themselves and judge their success on their own terms; that they would be approved of just for being. I have not changed my mind. Some of my relations (and possibly my friend) think that my kids do not show me enough respect. I hope deep down that they feel respect for me, but they can say anything to me, I want them to be honest with me and yes their views are often uninformed and lacking experience and even hurtful but I would not close down the channels of communication between us because of that.

Is the friendship over, I do not know.

I left her wishing her well and pointed out to her if she had even the slightest suspicion that there is any sort of karma in this world she should make sure that her opinions are at least carefully researched before she lobbies to remove the civil liberties of her fellow citizens.

12 comments:

Jax said...

Aargh, that sounds like a painful Tesco trip!

This really is rocking an awful lot of boats isn't it? I blogged a conversation with Akela the other day in which we covered the home education as abuse topic - it does seem to have hit home. I know as a species it makes sense to be a little bit frightened of the unknown, but I do wish more ppl could employ thought to overcome it.

Ronnie said...

Can't you give her "How children fail"?



or

Basic literacy and numeracy problems are a nightmare for business
Richard Lambert
CBI director general

The report comes days before this year's GCSE results are published. The CBI survey found many were having to retrain school leavers in the basics they should have learned in class.

Last year 53% in England achieved less than grade C English and maths GCSEs.


New figures from the 2007 CBI/Pertemps Employment Trends survey suggest 52% of employers are dissatisfied with the basic literacy of school leavers, 59% with their basic numeracy

Maire said...

Jax so do I, we have been friends for ten years but her ideas are very authoritarian, we just managed to get around it before, looks like we have hit a brick wall.

Yes I could Ronnie but am wondering whether it would be worth it, I think she may well be too set in her ways to take it on board.

I have been sending her links though, whether she will read them I don't know.

Renegade Parent said...

Sorry to hear that a trip to Tesco was not the everyday event you expect it to be. You sound very philosophical and calm though, which I very much admire!

This debate boils down to very oppositional worldviews: I know best for me versus I know best for everyone. I am struggling to understand the latter, but obviously the people who think that way find me equally incomprehensible.

Sigh...

Grit said...

sympathies, because tesco is bad enough already.

i lost friends due to home ed; i think they thought it was threatening their way of life and choices. people who are insecure in their choices probably want home educators to be policed because they themselves are, so why not everyone? some never seem to imagine what their choices could have included. but some of the home ed people i know are the wildest, warmest, wackiest and loveliest bunch of people, partly because they are so very thoughtful, questioning, listening, human, and self aware. they have to be, to make the choices they make.

Maire said...

Renegade, I suppose the friendship has been diminishing since I took Beth out, I was criticising her choices by doing so in her eyes.

When she made it clear that she wasn't going to visit me when her child was in school because she had gotten rid of her kid and wasn't going to put up with any one elses I sort of saw the writing on the wall.

Grit, I am so with you on Tescos!

"but some of the home ed people i know are the wildest, warmest, wackiest and loveliest bunch of people, partly because they are so very thoughtful, questioning, listening, human, and self aware. they have to be, to make the choices they make."

Absolutely!

Gina xx said...

Blimey, I'm not the only one who has had this sort of ^%(@ recently then!
Although my eldest is going into secondary school (small private alternative school), I will still be educating my other 3 until they are secondary age.

Sometimes it's hard to accept that folks you have been friends with for years are not the people you thought they were. Sometimes the friendships drift away, sometimes they explode with nasty fall-out!

dawny said...

oh my gosh, you sound so calm about it though - we've often had the feeling people found our choices threatened their own choices too, some good friends said the hardest of things and became just not involved with us any more.
Some of the home ed friends we've made have been well worth all the trouble though.
It'd be lovely to think your links will open her eyes a bit.

Claire said...

There must be something in the water right now as I have had a similar issue.

Every few months I meet up with an old school friend. I'm not entirely sure why as we have little in common - it's just one of those things that has happened for years. Anyway, every time we meet there is some sort of comment such as 'oh I send my chldren to school as I want the best for them' or last week she said 'well, if they don't learn to get up and get out at a set time and listen to authority then they don't stand a cat in hell's chance of ever getting a job'. I don't go out at night very often and when I do I don't want to choke on my pizza or end up biting my tongue off! I'm starting to think it's time to cut my losses and walk away :-(

So sad when people are really blinkered and just not capable of taking a balanced view.

Maire said...

@Gina, I suppose calling you an abusive parent is a pretty big explosion! But better to know and be able to put one's energy where it is useful.
@Dawny I agree the home ed friends are worth it. Conform or else friendships are not really friendships at all.
@Claire, there is a bad man and pathetic and sloppy press in the water right now that has given some people the courage to say what they have probably been thinking but not been confident of enough public support to say.

I would say re your friend, listen hard to your intuition, you deserve to be surrounded by supportive people. This sort of undermining of you and bigging up of her choices doesn't sound like it would be much of a loss to you.

Elizabeth said...

"..my wish for them was that they would be able to be thoroughly themselves and judge their success on their own terms; that they would be approved of just for being. I have not changed my mind. Some of my relations (and possibly my friend) think that my kids do not show me enough respect. I hope deep down that they feel respect for me, but they can say anything to me, I want them to be honest with me and yes their views are often uninformed and lacking experience and even hurtful but I would not close down the channels of communication between us because of that."

Children who make their views known and shock horror criticise their parents are not seen in a good light. I for one am glad to get honest criticism from my kids. It's better than any self improvement course. Surely loving criticism is a crucial supportive element of family life.

Kids who don't kowtow and suck up do seem unusual though, till people notice that they are honestly affectionate just not deferential.

They are our kids, we chose to have them they do not need to bow and scrape.

I love your philosophy, sounds like you are raining wonderful children.

Maire said...

Thank you Elizabeth.

'They are our kids, we chose to have them they do not need to bow and scrape.'

Absolutely, not to anyone.

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