Heart-to-Heart with Diane

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

To Fit In: An Interesting Conversation with Louisa

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter Louisa (12) on our way home from our Friday Fun Classes (our homeschool activity). She and another homeschooled girl had been talking about if other kids would like them more, and if they'd be better accepted at church and fit in more . . . if they just went to public school. Afterwards Louisa began to talk to me as we drove along: "I know how to fit in, but I can't fit in, Mom, because it would hurt."

"You'd feel pain?" I questioned her, feeling somewhat surprised. I thought it would be a relief to her to know how to feel more at ease with her peers.

"If I say a bad word, it hurts. It hurts me all day. I feel so bad. It just isn't worth it", Louisa confessed.

That set me to thinking. We try to raise our kids to be good, to have high standards, to please the Lord in all that they say and do. We put a huge amount of effort into that training. And yet, faced with "to fit or not to fit", Louisa was telling me that her childhood training—all my years of teaching her how to be upright—made it impossible to say the words that would make her "fit" more easily in a public school setting. If she wanted to "fit in", she would have to deny the person I had taught her to be.

Louisa takes just one class at school every other day, at my insistance. She loves homeschool and we have a great time learning together, but since she is my last child, I wrestle with the notion that she needs to get out of the house and go to school a little bit. Louisa has described to me her "take" on what makes for popularity in junior high school. She thinks she knows how to be "in", but it wouldn't be a very comfy fit for her, she feels. As she sees it, the requirements include dressing trendy and fashionably, being disinterested in learning, being immodest, and acting catty and "butt-sy" (pushy), acting disrespectful of teachers, showing a big interest in boys and sex and doing a lot of outrageous and unlady-like flirting, saying you hate school, texting your friends all through class without letting the teacher see, talking critically of parents, breaking rules whenever possible, treating your siblings like enemies, not being too smart, and being so saturated in the popular music and PG-13 movies of the current teen culture that you can easily recite movie lines. This is how she feels she would have to act to be well accepted and popular in our current world, outside of her circle of homeschooled friends.

It is so eye-opening to listen to our kids. We learn so much, don't we? I can see through her eyes how it must feel. Whether it is accurate or not, it is her reality. We teach our kids to have high standards and be good Christians, and yet the culture in general (including other adults, neighbors, maybe even Sunday school teachers, and sometimes even ourselves) may give our teens a conflicting message: "Be a good Christian, keep high standards, but do fit in with your peers, with the world, and be popular". Sometimes that is asking too much. Sometimes it would hurt too much.

I'm still thinking about what Louisa said.

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  • At December 7, 2008 at 11:36 AM , Blogger Melonie said...

    Good for her, and her friend, for discussing it and staying with their hearts - and your teachings - so far. It's not easy for adults, let alone our children, in today's society!

  • At December 7, 2008 at 11:38 AM , Blogger Mary Lou said...

    From the mouth of babes comes really good things. I can say I relate to her and I'm an adult. It is hard to be a good Christian and live in this world. I am still trying to balance the two worlds as well. Good luck to Louisa! She should know that she could do all the things her classmates think are cool and she would still not "fit in" because those classmates really don't fit in either they are just trying to dull the pain they are in.

  • At December 7, 2008 at 3:10 PM , Blogger thefrenchs6 said...

    Dear Diane,
    Wow. Your conversation says so much to me not only as a mother, but also as a Christian. I am convicted, encouraged and yet broken-hearted. My oldest will be 6 years old and my husband and I have been saved for the last 2 years of her life. We want to protect her from all of the things that we grew up seeing in public school, all of which Louisa described. But what she didn't describe, which, thank the Lord she will not know personally since she homeschools, is the non-challant-ness by which all of this occurs. It is a way of life in their homes, what they watch on tv, what they see by mom and dad, what they see in eachother, and most of them don't even realize how captured they are. "And they shall be holden by the cords of their sins" is what the Psalmist wrote. Thank God we have the protection to give our children, yet they still SEE it out there. They still sense the pressure...yet they have the opportunity to be objective about it, moreso than if they were in public school themselves. Diane, what a testimony that you have a great relationship with your children, that she talks so freely with you about her feelings and thoughts! That is a rare and beautiful thing. It should be commonplace among Christians, but it is not. We are still trying to win our almost 6 year-old-daughter's heart, since we were unsaved for the first 4 years of her life, and retraining her as well. We have come a long way, and she has too! Thank God for Michael Pearl's training materials, as well as Ezzo's, and our Pastor, Dr. S.M. Davis. What an encouragement to me that your daughter turned to you about her struggles. That is just such an encouragement. You tell her to always remember to turn to her parents, because she will ultimately continue to turn to the Lord for guidance as well.

  • At December 8, 2008 at 12:03 AM , Blogger denice said...

    isn't she a beautiful girl?! i think she should go right on *not fitting in*. especially with middle school kids.

  • At December 9, 2008 at 9:28 AM , Blogger Gail said...

    I have a daughter the same age as Louisa, and we have simlar coversations. In my daughers case she is mostly confused and dismayed by girls who have been her friends in the past who now choose to persue the "popular" crowd (who are really only popular with themselves.) We seem to have two kinds of kids at our school the "popular" group and the "nice" kids (who are actually more popular overall.) Like Louisa my daugher has chosen to stick with the "nice" kids, and develop her interests rather than developing her vanity, and she knows that she is happier for that choice. By the way, We used to live in Spanish Fork, UT where I ran into you at the grocery store one day. You said the nicest things to me about my chilren and really made my day. I have alway wanted to thank you.

  • At December 10, 2008 at 4:32 PM , Blogger eliz said...

    God Bless Louisa. What precious wisdom she shares with us all. As a mommy to 15 (ages 4-33yrs) and a grandma to 7. I've seen the turmoil in my kids as they fight these worldly issues. It's a battle that I wish I could fight for them. Some of my kids became prodigals and some were able to fight the good fight and win. Thank goodness God is in control. :o)
    Sending (((HUGS))) and prayers, Elizabeth (MN)

  • At December 11, 2008 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Kathi said...


    Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Over the years, I've come to appreciate your candor, gentle guidance and the lessons you've learned along the way. I'm a little bit behind you in years and am so thankful that you share this venture of life. Your experience offers me guidance along the journey as I struggle to raise and teach 8 children, ages 2-18. Reading about Louisa offered me insight into my own youngest child's upbringing. I know I will struggle just the same in wanting her to have experiences away from home because she won't be surrounded by the brood of siblings the others were graced to have. They will have moved on with their lives, especially the sisters because there are so many years between them. Thank you for sharing your family with me all these years. I'm blessed to have found people like you who can offer me guidance as I seek to follow His will. My own mother and I are so very different; we don't share the same faith. She doesn't support our having so many children nor our decision to home educate our children - even though we graduated our oldest son from high school with 3 more teens at home now. I recently lost my fertility and it hurt me deeply to hear the relief in her voice. Somehow, I feel you understand my days better than she. Don't get me wrong, my mother and I have a great relationship and I love her dearly. It's difficult a lot of times to not have the common ground of faith and support in the areas I feel so convicted - openness to life and homeschooling. Yes, now that my fertility has gone, I'm looking forward to grandchildren too! I'm patiently waiting for my children to move into that phase of life too. May God bless you today with His comfort and peace.

  • At December 13, 2008 at 7:27 PM , Blogger littlecbsmom said...

    I loved this, what a great perspective for her to have at such a young age. It gives me hope as a homeschooling mom with two young boys! I can relate so much to what she said and I agree totally!

    By the way...thanks for the turkey tip...I picked up an extra one this year at a great price!

  • At December 13, 2008 at 7:29 PM , Blogger littlecbsmom said...

    I love this. What a great perspective she has at such a young age on something so important. It gives me hope raising two younger boys in this world. I really like the way she put it!

    By the way....thanks for the turkey tip...I picked an extra one up this year at a great price!

  • At December 23, 2008 at 12:54 PM , Blogger Jenn said...

    She is so beautiful! I am glad she isn't like the other children at school!

  • At February 18, 2009 at 4:58 PM , Blogger Baden Fox said...

    She is a beautiful girl! I was in High School not too long ago, and I know the feeling. However, perhaps if she looks closely she may find more youth her age that feel uncomfortable with the behaviour she is describing. A lot of them may feel like her, but don't have the strength and courage that she does to act different from the norm. I know because I think I just followed the crowd way too much. But, I can still rememember a few girls here and there that didn't- and what great examples they were! Remind her that she can be a leader by doing what is right. She may be suprised by how many will follow her!

    Mary Fox


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