Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teen Slacker Mentality and Phony Homeschool Moms

A big issue on my mind of late is the slacker mentality of my older son (who is now 12.5 years old and going through puberty).

I have been asking around when I see homeschool moms in person, as well as discussing this with the parents of Boy Scouts, some of whom have older children in college now or recently graduated from college. I have been asking my friends questions on the phone. I have been asking questions at homeschool support group meetings.

I have been getting some blog comments about other homeschool mothers who are worried about the slacker mentality. I have my eyes and ears open and see this topic being discussed on homeschool discussion boards around the Internet.

The first thing I feel the need to share is that this slacker mentality is universal. Yes, it is happening with the kids who go to school. So there is the first thing that homeschooling parents need to know. These parents who I know are doing battle with their schooled kids. The parents want them to do well in school and the major focus is trying to make sure they get their homework done on time, follow the directions, and study for tests. This is happening to kids in public school, different academic-focus private schools and parochial schools.

They battle with their kids who are very focused on their social lives. At first this is directed toward friends, then later it is also about crushes and dating. The kids are constantly using their cell phones; it seems more to send text messages than to make phone calls. They also are on Facebook nearly every time they say they are using the computer to do their homework. The big joke is who is on Facebook when their parents think they are doing homework.

This slacker mentality seems to begin at different points in time. My Boy Scout parent friends whose middle schools begin with grade six say the shift to the middle school model is cause for problems, so slacking starts in grade six as a kind of rebellion against the new school routine and increased academic workload. There is more homework and more reading and studying. The slacker mentality can start in grade six they tell me, and it is in full swing in grade seven and eight.

Before I go further the question may really be if puberty and the hormone surges are to be held responsible for the slacker mentality. I don't know. I'm new at parenting a kid in puberty. And I've not taken the time to research the subject (sorry I'm too busy researching other topics while being busy teaching my kids).

The theory is that puberty is causing hormone surges and brain development is happening that hinders the child's ability to learn and focus. If they used to do something (like brush their teeth after they wake up) they suddenly forget this habit and have to be nagged to do it. They seem groggier and seem to not hear things. They want (or need) more sleep which is not always in alignment with the schedules that the adults in their lives have imposed on them (i.e. the school bus is picking them up at 6:30 in the morning). Oddly while they seem to want to sleep late they easily stay up late and swear they are not tired.

Kids who formerly loved to learn and found joy in learning at least some of the subjects may start to think of learning as boring or hard or not worthwhile. This applies to schooled kids and homeschooled kids alike.

This brings me to the main point that yes, the slacker mentality can and does happen to homeschooled kids.

If your homeschooled teen is not a slacker perhaps they are one of the few that is super-internally driven (a type A personality) who happens to apply that to their academics. Or perhaps they are academically gifted and learning school-y subjects is their passion? Other kids who are smart and good at school may direct their passion to other endeavors.

The timeframe for the start of this slacker mentality and when it ends varies. Some parents report their child came out of the fog in their sophomore year of high school. This means for some kids the slacker mindset is in place for two or three or four years, but some seem to only be 'seriously slacking' for about two years, with some ramping up time before that and some 'tapering down' time at the end. (The idea of four years of this is starting to overwhelm me, but if this is true, then we're about a year into it at this point.) Perhaps what is at play is different kids hit puberty at different times, or some have a longer phase than others. Perhaps some have shorter but more intense puberty-induced behaviors including the slacker period?

A couple of homeschooling parents say this didn't really start until grade nine, which correlated with when the parents increased the teen's academic work load and dramatically shifted their academic routine. This could also be tied to children who started puberty a bit later. These are just ideas I'm tossing around.

When the slacker mentality combines with the mood swings and anger surges of puberty this can be a recipe for disaster. It might seem like a chicken and egg analogy, which came first? I don't know.

I will add to the mix that I think nutrition plays a role here. Kids who are not eating an ideal diet or those who have food sensitivities can have more problems. The sweet tooth who binges on sugar and has sugar-induced mood swings, or the white-bread-aholic with insulin spikes and dips can add to the behavior challenges of a person, combine that with puberty and I think a disaster is inevitable.

The Danger of Myths

There is a myth that if you have fostered a close relationship with your child that the teen years will not be as challenging. This is said in relation to using certain parenting styles. The kicker is each parenting style advocate or expert thinks their way is the one right way that will prevent slacking or teen angst or rebellion. The attachment parenting camp, the spanking camp, the anti-spanking camp, the religious “child has learned to follow my authority” camp, they all think their way is the answer if only the parent has used the parenting system in the right way, by following all the advice and never straying.

There is a myth that if you have done a good job teaching your child your religious beliefs then they will not rebel or slack or have challenges in the teen years.

There is a myth that if you customize your homeschool and use good teaching methods well suited to the child that they will always find learning joyful and easy and will cooperate. Even the most pleasant young child may wind up being a moody, sulky, noncompliant, slacker teen. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I'm looking for support and information to get through this phase with the least amount of damage to the parent/child relationship and to have a kid who gets a decent education in the mean time, whether that is with a home education or at a school.

Homeschool Dropouts

I think I'm starting to understand now why some parents suddenly send their sixth, seventh or eighth grader to school. Some claim the child no longer listens, is uncooperative, and seems not happy. They say they decided to put the relationship with their child first and foremost so they send them to school in order to lessen tensions between them. I can understand this. I don't judge these parents. But what I think is the real issue is the child has entered the slacker phase. I worry that these parents have blamed themselves for causing what is actually an internal issue tied to a child's normal developmental stage.

Who I'm feeling judgmental about at this moment are the parents who keep secrets and don't share their true stories. I am angry with the homeschooling parents who portray a false face to other homeschoolers. Wanting to appear that they are good mothers, either by their silence or by outright lies they give the appearance that their homeschool is always joyful, carefree and wonderful.

By silence I am talking about mothers who tell me things privately and some who swear me to secrecy yet when they are asked the question in front of others they stay silent or lie. I wish they would realize that by trying to portray that their family life and their homeschool is thriving and all happy and good they are making the other parents think that the normal parenting challenges that go along with puberty, or the typical challenges when a parent is dealing with a slacker is a defect only in their home. Thus, the struggling parents of a slacker teen is left to wallow in negativity, blaming themselves or blaming their children. They not only beat themselves up and feel they are doing something wrong, but some quit homeschooling. And so the ones who put on the false face who feel badly to hear that the family gave up on homeschooling, who lament that another child was "lost to school" actually contributed to the family's choice.

Please, homeschooling parents, be honest about your experiences. Don't just share the best, happiest moments, share some of the nitty gritty less than perfect sounding stories. Share with us how you got through the developmental stage of puberty with an intact parent-child relationship. Inspire us with stories of how you tried to motivate your child and how you found the strength to persevere (other than general recommendations to pray about it). Tell us what you tried, what worked and what didn't seem to work. Let us know you came out on the other end alright.

Sadly, my biggest source of support at the moment for puberty and helping kids with their education is coming from multiple parents of SCHOOLED children. They are being more honest and real about real life parenting teenagers than the homeschooling parents I know are. At least I have one homeschool mom friend who is being very honest about this. Please consider joining our ranks--the faction of homeschooling parents who are not ashamed to tell the truth. By sharing our true stories we can help each other on the path.

If you're a phony homeschool mom please consider shedding the mask. You're not really helping anyone by playing at that game!


Beth said...

Thank you for writing this! We do need to be open about the struggles as well as the joys of homeschooling.

My daughter is now 20, and she went through the slacker years from 14-16. In her case this did not directly correspond with puberty, but more with what I would call an awakening of the emotions. Perhaps along the lines of what Dorothy Sayers called the "poetic" age where young people "rather specialize in being misunderstood"! :)

(BTW, to any other mothers of daughters out there: no matter what the courtship gurus tell you, and no matter how carefully you "guard her heart" your daughter WILL notice boys before she's old enough to get married. She may even develop major crushes on a couple of them, with many tears and much angst. Ever notice those courtship books are mostly all written by the dads of pre-teen girls?! HA!)

I have family members with kids near the same age and we are all quite open about our struggles. But sometimes I feel like it must just be our crazy gene pool because nobody else I know wants to admit that their children go through this!

If I had another daughter I would restructure the high school years so that ages 14-16 would be focused on art, poetry, crafts, and lots of homemaking. But I would also let the girl know ahead of time that she would be doing academic high school from 17-20. I didn't do that with my daughter, we just kept battling on and although I think she is well-educated, I don't think I did what was absolutely best for her. Now that she's working and considering college, we're faced with the results of some inadequacies of her schooling.

My son is only 8...I'll be following your blog to see how this all plays out for boys!

JennyM said...

Great article. This is one of the best articles that I've read in a long time. I share your struggles with a houseful of homeschooled teens! However, I try not to be phony about our family's imperfections. Our kids are still kids, and are subject to the same developmental and psychological issues as other teens. However, I do think that most of the time, our teens are 'slacker, lite' or 'rebel, lite' compared to their schooled counterparts. I try to be "real" with my friends about our family's imperfections. If you are running into moms who are not honest about this, move on. There are many genuine homeschooling parents who will gladly share their experiences. As for me, though, I have to say that there is no "magic bullet". Some teenage stuff we simply must suffer through while remaining consistent, loving, and keeping our cool. Thanks again!

mary said...

Good article, Christine! My wonderful, no problem son, turned into an angry rebellious 15 yo when he started spending time with a homeschooled boy whose mother was severely strict. He began to mimic the other boy's anger toward his mother. My son had no restrictions w/ playdates..I would accept them any time of day. I saw great collaboration, imagination, stimulation and healthy interaction during these "play times". But because of one year when all his regular friends had either moved or attended christian school full time, he blames me for not putting him in public school sooner and having more friends.

He completely changed from the son that we didn't need to worry about, to one that we constantly kept tabs on, although there were breaks in the clouds and times that we were very proud of him. However, I will say that he reminded me of a black stallion that I saw once pacing in a paddock, completely wild and beautiful at the same time. The value of the stallion is in that very wildness. I have to say that it was not an easy time, but a balance of enforcing God's Word as far as not forgetting what Jesus Christ did for him, and allowing freedom to choose. It's been like a ride in an old truck down a bumpy road, uncomfortable, but we got there because we didn't give up.

christinemm said...

Thank you for your comments everyone! This is encouraging because I didn't know how people would react to my opinions.

Alasandra said...

Well since I lived through it.

I let the kids know that as long as their assignments were done on time, they could do them whenever they liked. Giving them some control over their schedule seemed to help Both boys are doing fine in college in fact eldest already has his BS degree in Computer Science and is working on his masters. Youngest is a freshman and both seem to be managing their time OK. Although sometimes they make poor choices and have to scramble to complete assignments at the last minute. But they do get them done. Youngest is also working full time and Eldest is working on weekends so they do have a full plate.

Kristenph said...

I have no advice because my oldest is almost 12 and he is definitely a slacker. He is difficult to wake up, grouchy about doing his work, and generally crabby. I am glad to see that this is not uncommon, but it doesn't make it any easier to live with.

Though I am not completely transparent, I have shared about some of my struggles with him on my blog. Still trying to find the right place between being fake and being too open about things that my son would be upset to read about himself.

Darlene said...

I have a fourteen yo, and I am amazed that the eye-roll seems to be a genetic imprint that he suddenly blossomed into.

The snarky comments are also coming strong, but since I am a sarcastic person by nature he more often gets a high five or fist bump and a comment like "Oh, that was a good one!" while I rush to get my notebook to write it down.

My dad used to tell me that kids should be locked up at 12 and let out at 18 or so, and I am fond of reminding my boy that I AM doing these things just to annoy him, actually. I even told him that algebra was really a plot to keep his brain confused so he wouldn't notice girls...

I get an eye roll in response, but I have to keep my sense of humor, and yes, I must annoy him. That is, I remind him, my sacred duty as a parent. Oh, and to embarass him, preferably in front of his friends.

Not doing so would bring grave injury to his developing brain.

And along with this--this is the same period when their closets explode violently and suddenly the floor becomes their own storage system. I solved this by getting him a puppy of his own, one which sleeps in his room. Now everything is just piled in the closet, but I get a little thrill out of actually seeing his floor again...

And the games and senseless TV shows that cause a zombie-like affect...I try and join him, bringing popcorn and telling him how glad I am that he introduced me to this show, and I'm going to start TiVoing it cause I don't want to miss a single episode...

It is a never ending battle, but I persevere.

If I'm going to be miserable, I also tell him, so is he. And I have had SO many more years of practice!

And it is only a few more years. This, too, shall pass...

Dennis said...

The sleep part is something I remember very well from my own teenage days (now blessedly 11 years behind me). Here is a great (thought slightly long) article about sleep that includes a few sections about teenagers and sleep and just what's going on there.

In particular, you mention that teens often want to sleep late but aren't sleepy at night. This matches the common pattern of a lengthening circadian rhythm that affects most people in their teen years. Most people have a circadian rhythm between 23 and 25 hours, which is fairly easy to adjust to a 24 hour day. For teenagers, that can extend up to 28 or even 30 hours, making it almost impossible to function normally in society.

I personally experienced the 30 hour circadian rhythm, and it was really tough. When I slept and woke naturally, I was on a schedule where my waking hours matched the rest of the world only 1 day in 4. Despite that, the times I felt the best and did the most with myself were during summer vacation when I could follow that sleep rhythm.

As the father of a 3 year old and a 1 year old, I also know very well that their attitudes and motivation are very strongly affected by the quantity and quality of the sleep they are getting.

My speculation would be that an important part of the slacker mentality is related to sleep issues. Everyone knows how hard it is to feel motivated when sleepy.

An interesting experiment might be to hide your son's alarm clock, invest in some heavy curtains to block the light of the sun, and just let him sleep as late as he wants and stay up as late as he wants. It will be some years before I can try this experiment with my kids, so if you decide to go ahead, let me know how it turns out. :)

Twisted Cinderella said...

What a great post. I am still near the beginning of my homeschool journey and it is good to know that when I have struggles in the future there will be mothers out there who share the reality of their experiences (bumps and all)

Carrie Schmeck said...

I'm so there with you. In fact, I just took my son out of school because he seemed so lost most of the time. Hormones? Learning issues? Hard to tell in the midst of what they must accomplish.

Our approach with our older two has been to laugh our way through puberty. When they did something particularly dumb or thoughtless, we usually followed up with a short discussion addressing the issue but adding an acknowledgment that there were probably some physiological factors at play as well. Not giving them a "buy" for their behavior, but reminding them that "this too shall pass." It helped both of us to keep this in mind.

I know there are so many standards the kids this age need to cover, but I am thinking we are better off teaching our kids how to *think* during this time. Spend more time on deconstructing thoughts than on the volume of material covered.

My daughter made it through intact and is a lovely functioning young adult in college.

My middle son will be 16 next week and had his worst moments from about 12-14 years. Occasionally, he resembles molten lava in his thinking and we have to help kick start things, but for the most part he is sane and *there.*

Having that experience gives me hope for my 12.975 year old. Annoying? Yes! Slacking? Whenever possible. But there is so much going on in that little brain right now, we try to offer grace (and switch hit the parenting when he gets too annoying). :-)

christinemm said...

Thanks everyone for sharing.

Dennis I will check out the sleep article later.

To explain the sleep change started with my son at age 11.5 -ish and is still an issue. For quite some time I let him stay up late and sleep late. The reality is we have some non-negotiable morning appointments. It was hard to get up just one day every week at 7am. Sometimes our weekend plans are more early morning focused too (oddly enough).

So in the end I really don't want my kids sleeping past 9am much! When they roll out of bed at 10am the day is really short and they still want all the homeschool lessons done by 2pm with time in between for showering, breakfast, lunch AND a snack. LOL. Impossible.

Mental multivitamin (M-mv) said...

Mine are now 20.5, 14, and 12.5, so I guess I have some experience in negotiating the preteen and teen years. (*wry grin*) I know your young men are not quite teens yet, but this M-mv entry may help a bit:

I read about the unique demands of your schedule (e.g., the morning appointments), so it's probably less than helpful to tell you that what has helped us avoid a lot of "what ails" preteens and teens is a 9:30 p.m. bedtime (which even our oldest kept until he was seventeen -- he just knew it was good for him) and a (*gulp*) 8 a.m. "get out of bed" time. Ayup. They really seem to need that much rest, especially since they swim competitively most of the year. We also eat five small meals each day, which seems to help keep everyone even-tempered. In fact, our family doctor believes that the rest and the regular meals -- which conventionally schooled students simply can't enjoy, given the demands of their schedules -- play a large role responsible in the kids' excellent health.

We also build the kids' pet projects (e.g., my oldest's passion for computers and, yes, video-gaming and my girls' art) into the schedule. Respecting their pursuits in this way has helped us avoid spending much time mired in parent-teen cliches (e.g., "You just don't understand!" "You just want to control me!" "I hate this!" "Leave me alone!").

While I think you may be onto something with your appeal for more grit and advice from homeschool parents and fewer platitudes and prayer, I think it's a mistake to assume that everyone has a rough time with this period. Each developmental stage has many challenges and many rewards, but, for me? The preteen and teen years were and are far easier than, say, the toddler years -- perhaps because it is so much easier for me to connect with them at these ages.

You know, my girls just called me out to the living room. "Project Runway" is about to begin, and it's one of those things we share. We began watching the program together with Season 6 and over the winter holidays, we caught up on the other seasons via DVD. We're now several weeks into Season 7, and because we were in Chicago last night, we missed our Thursday night "date." Thank goodness, it repeats tonight. And so here's another tip: Find neat rituals or classes or activities through which you connect with your preteens and teens *outside* of required studies and activities like scouts or sports. My son and I used to watch sci-fi films and television series on DVD. We had ongoing Blink! card game challenges. My daughters and I take art classes at the college together. When my son was still at home, we all cycled together. I have taken each child on a vacation -- just the child and me, away for a couple of days on an adventure. I have "dropped everything" to see a movie one loves or read a book the other has ardently championed. And so on.


Time for their interests.
And shared activities for relationship-building.

'hope that helps.

Best regards.


Swamps said...

Hi Christine -- i enjoy your blog. My kid's only 5 but you give interesting insight. Anyway I read recently about teen age brains. You might find it interesting:

My dad and I went through a rough patch when I was a teen. I changed. He took it personally. In the end, it was just a phase. :-)

Mirela said...

Dear Christine,

Thank you so much for your article.

I don't have any kids yet, but if I did, I'd seriously consider HomeSchooling. The only problem is that.... in Romania it is illegal. Actually, I think only in Germany it's illegal (from the EU), we don't have any law that says that it is strictly forbidden, but school is mandatory for all children, and if you don't send them to school and someone "tells" you can very easily get visits from Child Protection Authorities and the Police, leading to very unpleasant measures, even threats of being declared unfit parent.

Nevertheless, there are some very brave parents that have found a breech in the law and have their children enrolled at foreign schools that allow distance learning (problem is that they must teach their children in a foreign language!). Romanian Gvt. has agreements to recognize studies abroad.

My point towards your wonderful article is that here, the few people who do this are too self conscious about their walking on the edge, and a lot of the common people in Romania are so amazingly (in my opinion) narrow minded about HS that us who like it, have to be on a constant "lookout" for unexpected blows.

I also know that even in the States Homeschoolers are often "cornered" with pointless questions and accusations from people who just pick up stereotypes and don't even take the time to see if their allegations are true.

This is why I think some mothers who homeschool are reluctant to speak their truths. Why give the "enemy" more weapons to attack? If they are not as strong as you are, I might feel for their position. When you constantly battle - sometimes even with members of your extended family, whose opinion on your life does matter - about your decision to homeschool your young, it's very painful to admit you are going through rough patches.

But us out here, especially in Romania with so little experience of HS need to hear the truth, and for that I personally thank you for your strength to tell it.

Ina's 5 and our Native Homeschool Blog said...

I remember a discussion back when I was in high school about teen sleep patterns being about a change in their sleep clock. I found a recent article about it, down past the part about high school start times is the info on why teens have different sleep patterns

mariannepa said...

Hi Christine,
Wow, you really struck a nerve with this article! I was just whining to my husband last night that so many homeschool groups and forums are full of parents touting their kids' accomplishments and "joy of learning." My DS, 13.5, could not care less about learning, does not have any brilliant talents or accomplishments yet, and thinks that both algebra and hand-writing implements are instruments of torture that we parents take great delight in administering. However, we are able to maintain good relations with an exceedingly heavy dose of humor, which runs rampant in a mutant form of y chromosome in our family. With a few ground rules, a lot of freedom and flexibility in scheduling "work", and the hope that this too shall pass, I'm maintaining my sanity (barely). Pushing too hard can backfire, so I'd rather sacrifice a bit of textbook learning for a while in exchange for nurturing a good relationship with my growing boy. Hang in there - you are definitely not alone!

christinemm said...

I received this by email in response to this post--

GREAT blog post!!!!

Good that you mentioned the 3 to 4 year potential slacker program! I think there's a time limit thing in some homeschoolers head that if the kid doesn't improve in a year, then they're going back to school or whatever. I'm looking at this homeschool mom who is a friend of ours who is going to send her kids back to school next year because of the discord but really, will it be easy to get them on the bus at 6:30? Or to get them to become motivated to get their gobs of homework done at the end of a tiring day? Or to keep their heads clear of the pop culture stuff, at least to the point that it becomes all they think of (this girl is a sweet girl, but she's already joined the Twilight crew because I think that's what they have to be interested in to be part of the in group at schools where homeschooled girls just say eh, I've read better..). It's good to emphasize the long-haul nature of the slacker period. It doesn't adhere to mom's time table (trust me!). Really, the strategy has to be: a) remain sane, b) set a basic minimum for middle school academics and stick to it, making sure that that's the priority and that the other fluff stuff slides (because something will) and not that or you'll kick yourself later), c) wait it out and know it will end, like colic.

I'm glad you addressed the two-faced thing. Good too you made an appeal for them to shed the mask as they can't get any help if they keep up a perfect homeschool front.

You need support for this one so that more come out of the slacker homeschooler closet!

christinemm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
christinemm said...

Received via Twitter---

from @PollyCastor

Survivor here! Enjoying DS15 now. RT @ChristineMMTTM My blog post Teen Slacker Mentality & Phony Homeschool Moms

christinemm said...

After reading your blog entry and the related comments, I saw a number of posts elsewhere exhorting homeschoolers to be "real." Do you visit TWTM? There are a few threads there re: this topic.

Today I mused on the subject a bit at (my blog) As I think I've shared with you before, I believe that some people (not you!) make the appeal to be "real" without realizing that the lack of posts about the so-called "bad days" may stem not from a lack of transparency but from a desire to protect their privacy.

Best regards,

Mental multivitamin (M-mv) said...

Saw that you added my remarks to the comments. Cool. FYI, though: M-mv stands for Mental multivitamin -- not Master M-mv (or "my son").

Here's the link:

Best regards,

SmallWorld at Home said...

For my oldest, the years between 11-13 were the hardest. I wouldn't call them "slacker" years. "Slacker," to me, means a lack of interest in learning, school work, etc. For him, it was really more of an attitude. He struggled more who HE was--personal identity--and with relationships--coming to terms with the injustice of things especially. This is the age where he began to see the hypocrisy in adults and the judgmental attitude passed from parent to child.

We talked and talked and talked through these things. We tried to never issue platitudes but let him know that yes, people are judgmental. Yes, they are wrong. You are a great kid. Being in a Christian community, this is a time when kids become sensitive to obviously (to us) un-Christlike behaviors and judgments. "You're hair is too long, thus you are not a good Christian." "You wear rock band t-shirts, thus you are going to hell." You don't tuck your shirt in and wear a belt, so I shall sneer at you. Etc. etc.

Again, we talked through these things a lot. He's 17 now, and I have to say in all honestly that since he turned 13.5 or 14, he has tested us very little. Slacking has never been an issue, but I think he is one of those kids that loves learning, loves academics. (Also, many of his classes he took from our co-op or through dual enrollment at the local community college.)

And, by the way, he is far from a Type A personality. But so am I. Anyway, I am rambling but I do want you to know that most of my friends would agree that they come out of slacking or bad attitudes or whatever in general by age 14 or so--if you are prepared to listen, talk, and not judge. And not worry about your friend's kid and how much "better" they seem than yours. And check your own hypocrisy level (that's not directed at YOU--I mean "our own" level)

christinemm said...

After reading my blog post and commenting this was published.


In my defense the feelings were not so much directed at the homeschool blogs but were felt after attending a meeting on said topic where not everyone in the room was honest. In other words, it was a place for support and encouragment on that specific topic and two people were silent and putting up the false face to those not in the know that they don't experience that which the others in the room were struggling with.

As I said I'm sworn to secrecy by those ladies.

Also the support group meeting has a confidentiality agreement that we are not supposed to spill beans about what went on there SPECIFICALLY. So I stayed vague with what I said. No names, no details, no calling people out. I didn't go that far.

But yes in the blogs etc it does seem one way I guess combining deception from those I personally know with all the good news online seemed overwhelming.

Well yes, and when I share photos of the good food I don't share recipes that are not worth repeating. I'd not do that to my readers.

Okay in the last couple of weeks I've done some parenting topic ranting and raving, spilled my guts about imperfection here and hoped for some support and encouragement. There's always a risk to that as I'm vulnerable.

Well, back to living what really is a very good life...I'll try to stop whining now...I don't want to wallow in misery!

It was the best day so far this year, the peepers are out, the bull frogs have emerged, flies are buzzing, the first wild plants are emerging, the lawn is greening up, the birds are chirping, the hawks are calling, the sun is shining and the breeze is gently blowing.

My kids had a great day today. I enjoyed them.

See, I'm happy! Really I am!

Mental multivitamin (M-mv) said...


As I thought I made clear in my email message to you (text pasted below), my post was inspired more by the many threads and posts erupting in other venues -- hence, the emphatic and parenthetical "not you!"

Best regards.


Email message:
After reading your blog entry and the related comments, I saw a number of posts elsewhere exhorting homeschoolers to be "real." Do you visit TWTM? There are a few threads there re: this topic.

Today I mused on the subject a bit at M-mv. As I think I've shared with you before, I believe that some people (not you!) make the appeal to be "real" without realizing that the lack of posts about the so-called "bad days" may stem not from a lack of transparency but from a desire to protect their privacy.

Mental multivitamin (M-mv) said...

At the risk of riding over a flattened squirrel, I wanted to add that my M-mv post had a decidedly tongue-in-cheek tone. So please, no "ouch."

As always, best regards.


Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

Hi Christine, I haven't been able to stop by here in a while and I'm glad I now have, so I can add my two cents to this most interesting conversation.

So far, my experience has been very different as far as the "slacker" thing goes. We have been unschooling all these years and it's just last year that my (now) 13yo has asked to sit down and "do curriculum". Therefore, since he is self-motivated, he never complains when I wake him up at 8 am to get him started on lessons. (Well, OK, he did once, but that was after a weekend with two sleepovers.) For the most part he is great about doing whatever work I put in front of him. OTOH, we have agreed when occasional slacking has been necessary due to the encroaching springtime! So my thoughts are that perhaps it might not be so much of an age thing as much as an "I'm sick of people telling me what to do" thing. I haven't spoken with other unschoolers to confirm this, but that's my hypothesis.

Also, I thought I'd share some interesting information I once got from a middle school teacher. She told me that very little actual new material is taught in middle school; that it's mostly all a review of grade school, just with bigger words. She also said they give kids SO much more homework so that they can keep them busy and out of trouble after school. The school she taught in (sorry, I met her in passing and can't remember the district) considered middle school basically a "holding cell" where their aim was to get the kids through puberty without getting into too much trouble.

I don't know if she was being honest or not, but it surprised me enough that the conversation stuck with me.

WildIris said...

I just stumbled on your post/blog about the slacker teens and more important, homes school moms being "real".

I have four kids son-19 (almost 20),son-17,DD-12(almost 13)& DD-7.

Son #1 was one of those kids you could look at when they were two and see that when drugs came into his life it was going to be a problem. It was, but not nearly as difficult as his problems with authority figures. Homeschooled from K-8, he decided he wanted to go to school after he went to a summer camp where he was made to feel bad about being homeschooled.One of my most dramatic memories was his first year of high school. At 5 AM I recall his father and I wrestling him to the ground after he had put a safety pin through his eyebrow. Months later I consented to going to a piercing parlor to get it done by a professional. Several months later after an infection closed the wound he wound up in the hospital for a week with a life threatening infection.

This was a boy pulled away from his high school campus in handcuffs for playing music and for refusing to stop playing when asked to quit. I sure he was out of line, but then I wasn't sure that the school wasn't out of line too. Both parties lied about the incident.

All of this started at 14, but he'd been in slacker mode for at least a year. At almost 20 he through the other side. He makes fewer bad choices and he is a nice guy, even dependable.

Son#2 had the nick-name perfect "P." He decided to go to school in 7th grade and is still slacking his way along at 17. He steered clear of trouble, but it found him anyway. Short of being expelled from high school for being a smart-alek, he is in an alternative school. He plays baseball and it keeps hope alive since he has put enormous amounts of energy into it and the drive to do well is alive and well on the pitcher's mound. He seems to have a few more years yet before he reaches the light at the end of the teen tunnel.He still makes mistake after mistake.

The 12-year-old home school girl sends me. I am ready to call it quits with her. I talk, I cajole, I do everything I can think of and her behavior does not change. She is/was smart. She is one of those people who is blessed with the gift of having everything come easy to them, but now in the dawn of the teen years all of her amazing potential vanished. Her drive is to stay up late, hide in her room and get up late. I know the most damage I could do right now is to put her in school. She knows what she wants to be, in her case a concert pianist, but she cannot bridge the gap between the want and the demanding hours it takes to get there. Intellectually she knows our numerous discussions about school, piano, etc. are true, but she cannot make the leap of faith to make her dreams a reality.

This phase will pass I keep telling myself, and I hope that she doesn't have to loose everything she has worked for before she figures it out. All of this started when she turned 11.

Baby-cakes at 7 seems like a junior teenager, but I appreciate her lovely free spirit. If I could just keep that spirit a live through the teen years.


The Crazy Mom said...

Hi, what fun! I was actually looking for homeschool t-shirts and found this! I have lots of slackin' that goes on around here. I can be quite a slacker myself! LOL Yep, I'm up after 1 am and I'll sleep late tomorrow. I have to drop two kids off at church at 9 and then will go back to bed! LOL

I try to be brutally honest about our life. I have my own blog called "Ramblings from the Crazy House." (I'm Crazy Mom.) I do try to write stories about our crazy life because I refuse to be one of those "perfect" homeschool moms. LOL

I'll sign with my Blogger blog, but you can see some of my older stuff at

Here's a great example of slacking here. My 14 yo wants to go to the library but refuses to walk up there. Now, the library only takes about 2 minutes in the car and that's because I pretty much always catch the light. It might take ten minutes max to walk there. However, my son accuses ME of being lazy because I won't drive him there! LOL Yes, this is the one who was still in bed at 4:45 PM (yes, that was 4:45, not a typo) when I was out the other day running errands and didn't wake him up before I left. I kid you not!!!!!!!! :)

Cat said...

Love it, thanks so much. Apparently no amount of planning for the upcoming year will make a difference to my daughter's attitude! Now I really do feel hopeless. LOL. Seriously, I have ordered curriculum and also a prayer book for mother's to start of this year:) Lovely to read all the posts and a bit scarey to think of a 4 yr slacker stage. We have another pre-teen right behind this one. ......

ChristineMM said...

Update: my oldest is 15 now and the slacker thing has slowly gotten worse and worse. My son is acting the way some other kids acted that drove my friends crazy. I wrote this at the first signs of slacking. That was nothing compared to what I am dealing with now.

And to make matters worse my younger son is 12 and he is starting to act like a slacker for the first time in his life.

Cori said...

i feel so blessed to have found your article... and even more so to see that you have followed it up with another response.

so, we have an almost 14 yr old who has lost his mind. he is a complete slacker and has no intention of doing any work at all ever again, as far as i can tell.

he is going to immediately flunk out of his co op classes...all of them...because he imagines that the work will magically get done without him actually sitting down and devoting any time to it.

honestly, i am beginning to think that he is m.r. he reminds me of my father with alzheimer's who talks about going back to his engineering work.

it's so sad to see him this way. i don't know if this is permanent or not, or if i can read enough stories to believe that he is somewhat normal.

he's never lit the world on fire with his schooling, but this is off the charts. maybe we can all pray for one another in raising these insane people.

god bless.

ChristineMM said...

Cori, Thanks for posting. It is nice to know I am not alone. Yes let's pray for each other.

I noticed a post from the past here from Love2B Homeschoolers. I know her in real life. The year after that the son she mentioned went to public high school grade 9 (2011 to 2012). And this year, 2012 to 2013 her younger child enrolled in public school into grade 6.

I wonder how many quit homeschooling due to the slacker years hitting and just giving up?

I have offered my older son to go to school but he still wants to homeschool. I will be posting next week about what happened this week, a big change, but we are still homeschooling.

Love 2Bs said...

Hey that's not fair, I didn't give up ;-)

As I mentioned, we had been unschooling when my older son decided he wanted to "do school" more formally. We did so for several months when he decided he wanted to try high school to see what it was like.

My younger son was placed in school this year because he is extremely dyslexic and I felt he might get more thorough remediation than what I could provide.

The fact that I "gave up" homeschooling my younger son breaks my heart into bitty pieces every single day. To the darkest recesses of my soul. And the idea that it is because he got to the slacker age is wrong. He goes because I am not up to the task of educating him in the way he requires. Because of his disability, not because of his attitude.

So there :-p

ChristineMM said...

Okay STOPPED homeschooling.
Or STARTED using school.

Sorry to offend you with the word choice.

I hardly know anyone who starts off homeschooling and gets through the teen years. Most everyone I knew started using school, some in middle school and more for high school.

Slacking is one reason.

Two of the most influential homeschool support group leaders I looked up to when my kids were young ages used school, one middle, one for grades 10 and 11.

We are at a turning point this week and next week where we are deciding whether to quit homeschooling and start using school with my oldest due to the mess with the online classes due to misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the classes and also due to slacker mentality happening here. If he won't do stuff required by law at home with lessons guided by me, then he will have to go to school and let them teach him the mandated subjects.

Cori said...

I am about exactly where you are right now, except we do know that this kid has ADHD, hands down. I am doing whatever I can to keep him motivated in this insane co-op (it really is difficult work...the teachers are like college profs) because of how beautifully Catholic it is. But, when it comes right down to it, whomever can get my kid to learn study skills is who's going to win the grand prize of educating my sweet slacker child. It kills me because he is so sweet, but his slothfulness is creating a huge mess here at home. I have to remind him daily that I DO have other kids. Sad. God bless you women. Can you just come and move next door to me or something?

Ahermitt said...

Hi Christine

I ams sure I read this two years ago when you first wrote it, but it sure hit a nerve today. I blogged about it:).

We actually made it all the way through homeschooling, (final year with 2nd of 2 kids) probably because of my stubborn streak. While I miss the company of my friends who are former homeschoolers, I am not going to begrudge them the decision to do what is best for their sanity and for their kid. I know that if I had a 3rd or 4th kid, me may not have made it!

ChristineMM said...

AHermitt can you leave a link to your blog post? I can't find your blog.

Your blogger profile says it's private and it doesn't link over.

I wanted to read your new post.

Thank you!

ChristineMM said...

Here is the blog post by
AHermitt about bad homeschool days.

Linner said...

Ladies and Gentlemen-
(Sigh) (Eye Roll) (nodding of head..."yah yah") --those sounding familiar?

My son is 17 and has been homeschooled since he was 10. He graduates this year. However, we are currently experiencing this "slacker" phenomenon and also a seemingly careless attitude towards his work. My husband said that a week of math lessons has been lost. When my son is self-directing work he is fine, but when I assign something that requires more research or thinking outside of the box he shuts down, gets defensive and turns in shoddy work.
I would be fine with allowing some "slacker" moments and easing-up on academic expectations if this weren't grade 12 with LIFE looming on the horizon.

Cindi Soutter said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have a 14 year old son. OH MY GOSH!! He is unschooled, and my support system is like, zero. We just moved to Myrtle Beach. I thought I was the only one! My sweet boy has turned into a sassy, angry, happy, sad, excited....all in 5 minutes boy! who does not want me or his day anywhere near his room!! leave me alone!! and why do you keep asking mom!! assanine, yet lovable, how could I be mad at full-fledged TEEN!! whew!! I just needed to get that out. I'm really considering starting either a MeetUp in Myrtle Beach OR and online Yahoo Group for parents of homeschooled Teens...We need all the support we can get...

ChristineMM said...

I don't recall if I said this in earlier comments.

What I thought was slacking at 12.5 was worse at 13 thne bad at 14 and just horrible at 15.

At 16.5 my son is coming out of it, he's at half tilt engaged or maybe 2/3.

Funny how I thought it was bad at 12.5 when that was nothing like what would happen in the future.

Younger son is 13.5 now and he swung into it big time at 12.5.

There is also a correlation with puberty IMO.

When the peach fuzz starts the first signs of what we call slacking have begun. Again they are nothing compared to what lies ahead.

I have some new thoughts on slacking that I will blog in the next week.

vintagegypsyart said...

Hahaha! "joyful, carefree, and wonderful"... when does that actually start to happen please? lol

I started homeschooling two of my 3 boys when they hit middle school. The elementary school in our town is a healthy, well-rounded experience, so I decided that they would stay in school until the 5th grade. (My youngest comes home a year early this fall for his 4th grade year because he feels left out being so much younger than his 2 brothers... ).

My two older boys are now 13 and 15 and I have had to fight tooth-and-nail with them from the start to get them to read, write, and learn grammar. I researched books for their interests and ages, I tried to make their learning activities fun and interesting, I've mixed media with them from lectures, to videos, to research and study, field trips, print-outs, etc... You name it, I've tried it.

I have been ready to throw in the towel on more than one occasion with this, but my reasons for having them home for school haven't changed so I'm keeping at it. And you're right, even the things they used to be great at doing without being told have become things that I need to nag them about.

It really does leave you feeling like you're failing somehow, so I deeply appreciate that you shared your story honestly. It gave me some hope :))