Written by Rebecca Lindenbach of Life as a Dare.
Many people think teenage rebellion is inevitable.
I say it’s not. I never rebelled.
I recently wrote a book, Why I Didn’t Rebel, where I delved into interviews and research to figure out what parents of kids who didn’t rebel did right. And something I’ve come back to again and again is the role homeschooling played in my own story.
I was homeschooled from the first grade through my first year of university, and today I want to share with you five ways that homeschooling helped me avoid teenage rebellion.
1: My whole life didn’t consist of high school
When you go to high school, it’s easy to let school become the main part of your life. You spend 40+ hours a week with the same people, and whether or not you fit in matters — it can make high school great or terrible.
School wasn’t my whole life. There was no reason to rebel because there wasn’t that constant pressure to impress. Instead, I was involved in activities that led to friendships that spanned across continents, not just classrooms.
Because I had a larger world view, I saw that life was bigger than four years of high school. It was easy to turn down opportunities to party or drink, because what was the point?
2: I worked
A huge part of the reason I was responsible throughout high school was that I worked. That is hands-down one of the best opportunities homeschooling gave me.
I worked at a YMCA during seniors’ hour. I spent my time chatting with 85-year-old women in my AquaFit classes, or hearing stories from a retired pastor.
A great thing about homeschooling is that kids aren’t strictly organized by age; you have the opportunity to meet people at all stages of life.
That makes your world so much bigger — what 16-year-olds around me were doing didn’t matter to me much, because I saw what life was going to be like at 25, 45, and even 75 years old. Working gave me that.
3: It was easier to talk to my parents
Most kids who go to public school are shuttled around all day between school and activities. You leave at 7 a.m., get home at 3 p.m., go to soccer for 4 p.m., and then rushed to youth group — but where does family time fit into all of that?
Because I was homeschooled, we had a lot of time to just do nothing together.
Time to do nothing together is more beneficial to the parent-child relationship than shuttling them to and from school and activities. That’s because when you’re just hanging out there’s no pressure to perform. You can just be you, and you know your parents are enjoying your presence.
With homeschooling, this time together happens naturally.
We didn’t need to carve out time for each other—it was just there. And as a result, talking to our parents came incredibly easy to my sister and me.
4: I was separate from the party atmosphere
Now, I wasn’t sheltered from partying in the least. In the small town I grew up in, everyone partied. I knew many who drank or smoke most weekends.
But homeschooling naturally removed me from that scene by protecting me from high school culture.
5: We were naturally part of each other’s lives
Most importantly, because of homeschooling, everything we did impacted each other. My bad mood impacted my mom; my mom’s great news meant we all celebrated. Everything we did had a greater significance than just how it affected us — and that impacted how we made decisions.
From the interviews I did for my book, I found that many kids who rebelled felt that their lives were separate from their parents’ lives. They had a mentality of “It’s my life,” or, “I’m the only one who’s going to get hurt, so what’s the problem with it?”
That was not the case in my family, nor was it the case for other families with kids who didn’t rebel. In our family, I knew that what I did wouldn’t only affect me — it would also significantly impact my parents and my sister.
We didn’t live separate lives of “parent” and “child” — we were simply Rebecca, Sheila, Keith and Katie. We had our roles, but we were people first. And homeschooling is what gave me the time with my parents that I needed to be able to see that they, too, would be affected by my decisions.
Homeschooling is one of the best things my parents could have ever done for me. My husband and I are even planning on homeschooling our own kids, someday!
But the number one gift that homeschooling gave me was a family where I belonged and against which I didn’t have any need to rebel. I’ll always remain grateful for that.
A note from Jamie: If you’ve ever wondered if teenage rebellion is just a given in today’s society, you need Why I Didn’t Rebel! I’ve read it and my 13-year-old son, Jonathan, has as well. We both loved it and found Rebecca’s story inspiring and her tone encouraging.
She also includes many stories from other teens–both those who have stories of rebellion and those who don’t–and she analyzes the home environments/lifestyle choices they grew up with to see what parents can learn from it. Highly recommended!