I’ve heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child,” but I didn’t realize that this included friends writing to newspaper columnists for advice on behalf of parents.
Newark Star Ledger, Newark, New Jersey, 9 January 2007, Teen has lost interest in attending school
My friends have two daughters, 15 and 11 years old. The 15-year-old went to an all-girls, private boarding school last year and did okay, but, during the summer, decided she didn’t want to go back, so they had to rush to get her into public school. … The parents are fighting about her and are worried that their other daughter might be influenced by her sister’s behavior. Any advice on what they might do?
The part that brought this to my attention was the inclusion of:
[The mother] wants her [daughter] to go to college, but because the girl doesn’t want to go to school, she [the mother?] is looking into home schooling.
Apparently that’s the reason for a non-family member to seek advice for someone else’s children. Using a private school, or keeping the girl in school doesn’t seem to have been of concern to the friend, despite that attendance appearing to be related to the girl’s malaise.
She says she is too tired to go, but on the weekends, she hangs out and parties with her friends. She has seen a doctor, who said she is depressed and put her on an antidepressant. It hasn’t changed her behavior.
The advisor is of the opinion that:
Permitting the daughter to miss school, doing her homework and pursuing home schooling avoids facing the issues of why she doesn’t want to go to school.
For voluntary activities the feeling of a participant that he or she no longer wants to do the activity is enough to allow that person to go on to something else. There may be ambivalence about whether or not to continue, depending on how much investment has been made in the activity, but ultimately the person doing the activity has a choice of whether or not to continue, or to change direction.
With school, there is no choice for young people who have not yet received a diploma. Like it or not, school is a requirement and “pursuing home schooling” may be a way for the girl to continue with her education while either sorting through, or healing from, whatever it is at school that is causing her depression.
If the depression is caused by a situation, isn’t one way to alleviate the stress to remove oneself from the situation?
Like the doctor providing the advice, I’m using a distance-crystal-ball to make guesses about a girl I’ve never seen. However, if even one of the parents feel that homeschooling could be a way for the girl to qualify for college, why is a friend trying to bring his or her opinions to bear in what is a family matter?
Also, why is a doctor buying into it? Perhaps Miss Manners could do a column on this column.