When my children returned from camp this year, they told me about the fun things they did and the good food they ate. They also told me about other children there who weren’t easy to get along with — they didn’t play the games fairly, they teased them, and sometimes they took their things.
These issues, which were minor to their cousins who also attended camp, were major concerns for my children. We began talking about how they responded and what they might do differently if it happened again, which it would, either at camp or somewhere else.
One of the reasons we homeschool is to protect our children from situations that they aren’t yet mature enough to handle. Growing up in the public school system myself, I remember many times people said or did things that were clearly wrong, and I just didn’t know how to respond. There were times things happened and I never told my parents, so they weren’t aware of what was going on. I didn’t want it to be that way for my kids.
But here we are at a crossroads — the fine line between over-protection and learning a life skill. At what age should a child be made to deal with a difficult situation, especially one involving their peers? Part of me is satisfied that they haven’t had to think about it much until now, and part of me feels they could have handled things better at camp had they only known how.
Part of me, too, tells me that every child is different; there’s no magic age for taking a stand, confronting a problem, or struggling through peer pressure. What one child is able to handle might be too difficult for another. But as mom and teacher, I can work to keep the lines of communication with my children open, and we can figure it out together.
Photo by joshuaone6to9