Are Introverted Children Being Drugged?

In light of my recent (see archives for March and April 2014) series on introverts, I’d like to add this article, which speculates that introverted children are being misdiagnosed as having special needs or even being mentally ill, when in reality there’s nothing wrong with them. Worse, parents are most often the ones pushing for medication for their children who don’t fit the prescribed mold.

How awful for these children! As one commenter put it:

I’m shy and bookish I’m not mentally ill I’m introvert living in a extroverts world.

Pre-Teens, Internet Access and Attempted Murder

A tragedy just occurred in a town not far from here. Two 12-year-old girls played out a terrible fantasy based on a website they often visited that resulted in them luring their 12-year-old friend into the woods and stabbing her: she survived but is clinging to life.

The owner of the website denies that it’s anything but a literature site. But according to the two girls, it propelled them to do something very evil.

Some people are going to say that the website should be shut down. Others will say that it was never meant for children in the first place.

But the bottom line is that these girls had access to the site. Their parents may not have even known about the site, because thanks to today’s technology, anyone can have easy and private access to anything on the Web.

It seems so long ago that we had a computer set up in our dining room, where we could supervise Internet surfing and thus allowed our children limited access to the Internet. As they grew older, they could afford their own computers in their own rooms. At that point, we could no longer see what they were accessing, but they were nearly adults by then and we had to trust them.

Now, young children have total access to the Internet, and to the many good and bad things available on it. Kids are being bullied on Facebook and other social sites. Some have committed suicide because of that.

Once, it was considered entirely reasonable for parents to strictly limit their children’s intake of all forms of media, and even of books they considered inappropriate. But since the ascent of the Internet, it seems that most kids are allowed free access to anything they can find. And now we’re seeing the sad results of that policy.

What’s Worse? Uneducated Homeschool Parents or Negligent Ones?

 

At the grocery store checkout counter yesterday, I got to hear the cashier and bagger, both middle-aged women, talk about homeschooling.

These gals were discussing which of their fellow employees were homeschooled. They agreed that most of their homeschooled coworkers seem quite well-socialized and normal. (It’s always a relief when I hear that, because it means I don’t have to give my standard “Just because someone doesn’t wear hip clothes, have a tattooed forehead or have three kids by three baby daddies doesn’t mean they’re not socialized” speech.)

Anyways, the cashier then noted that her sister had chosen to homeschool but made a mess of her kids, that they had turned out very awkward, and stupid to boot, but she thought the stupid part came from her sister, who wasn’t very bright to begin with and clearly had no business homeschooling anyways.

Fortunately our transaction concluded right then, so I didn’t get into a discussion of whether stupid people should be able to homeschool their children. While I believe that every parent has the right to decide where their children will be educated, I understand why people assume that you must be super-smart to homeschool your kids. But they’re wrong, of course, because a highly motivated (though not highly educated) homeschooling parent can learn right alongside their children after they reach the limits of their own education. Case in point: I’ve often noted that I never understood geometric proofs until I had to teach them to my kids. The best I could do was to stay one step ahead of them on that subject; you can imagine their delight whenever I’d forget something and they got to correct me.

So I don’t care whether or not a homeschool parent is a genius. I know that if they’re motivated, they’ll find a way to make sure their child learns what they need to know. If a subject is too complicated for them, they’ll find another way for their child to learn that subject. Heck, I did that too, like when I sent one of my kids to a local college for chemistry class (science wasn’t exactly my strong suit).

Again, as long as a parent is motivated to homeschool, they’ll make sure their child learns what they need to know. I don’t worry about those parents. But I do worry about another kind of parent.

I’m sorry to say that I’ve recently been made aware of a couple of situations where parents are keeping their kids out of school in order to homeschool them, but then just aren’t homeschooling them.

(I’m not talking unschooling; the unschooling parents I’ve known over the years were very concerned about their children’s education and made sure to raise them in a rich learning environment. They just didn’t use formal curriculum, preferring child-led learning instead.)

No, the parents I’m referring to aren’t educating their kids at all. This blows my mind. I’ve never known anyone to do that before (and I’ve met a lot of homeschooling families over the years!) Such parents are:

  • doing a huge disservice to their kids,
  • abdicating their role as parents, and
  • in some cases, breaking the law, because in most states, there are educational requirements for all children.

I have no clue why these negligent parents won’t send their kids to school if they’re not going to bother to educate them at home. But I feel very sorry for their kids, and also for the conscientious homeschooling families who will be tarred with the same brush once outsiders hear about these parenting failures.

When Bias Against Homeschooling Results in Job Loss

Not long after graduating from homeschool high school, my daughter applied for a job with a large, well-known credit card company. She did very well in her initial interview, passed their tests with flying colors and was in the midst of a second interview when she was asked where she had gone to high school.

As soon as she said she was homeschooled, her interviewer’s demeanor completely changed. The interview that had been going so well was suddenly over. And she never heard from them again.

It was their loss. Since that abbreviated interview, she’s worked for several big companies and has earned promotions and good reviews. Now, thirteen years later, she works for a large company whose name you would recognize and also has a couple of small businesses on the side.

But was that ever an aggravating experience, for her and also for us! I was reminded of it this morning after reading about an Ohio company that rescinded a job offer to a homeschool graduate, simply because he was homeschooled. How ignorant, and how foolish.

Given the tough job market, this is especially unfair to the homeschooled grad. Hopefully an even better job will materialize for him. But this story shows that there’s still a lot of ignorance out there about homeschooling, which is especially ironic when you consider the continuing decline of public education and the quality of graduates it produces. I guess some people would rather cater to their biases than employ their common sense.

The Exception to the Rule

In my recent posts (see left) about the book Quiet by Susan Cain, which include my thoughts on what we can do for our introverted kids, I have yet to include the exception to the rule of introversion.

Ms. Cain points out that some introverted people who love quiet and prefer not to be in the spotlight are excellent public speakers. How can this be? And how can we help our introverted children gain such a valuable skill?

Citing a much-loved professor who gives wildly popular lectures to large groups of people, Ms. Cain explains that this man is so introverted that when he’s scheduled to give multiple speeches, he spends the intervening moments off by himself so he can regroup. Sometimes this has required that he hide in a washroom stall because there’s nowhere else he can be alone.

How can a man this introverted be able to give such wonderful lectures? Ms. Cain explains that it’s extremely important to him that he share knowledge with his students. His passion for his work helps him override his natural introversion, at least when it comes to teaching.

How can we help our introverted kids learn to do this? After all, being able to speak to a group (of a few people or many) is a useful skill in this world. Even college admission or job interviews sometimes require speaking in front of several people. This might sound easy to the extrovert, but not to the introvert.

Having read this book, I would suggest that, instead of trying to bring your introverted child out of their shell by putting them into lots of group activities, make sure they have access to things that interest them and watch them bloom. Show interest whenever they tell you about something that fascinates them. Give them opportunities to share their discoveries and interests with Grandma and Grandpa when they see them. Every child is fascinated by something; extroverts just make it more obvious.

Ms. Cain’s general recommendations for helping your introverted child include:

  • Letting them be who they are instead of forcing them into an extrovert’s mold.
  • Help them strategize how to handle upcoming social interactions if they need it.
  • Give them time to absorb new situations instead of trying to force acclimation right away.

These are just a few; you’ll learn much more in Ms. Cain’s book, which I highly recommend: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking