Breaking Down “Shoulds” and Stereotypes in Homeschooling

house_spiderThe other night I saw a spider in my living-room. Now, usually I just pick it up with a cup and put it outside but it was late and this spider was really big so I got a shoe and went over to smash it. Then I stopped myself. “I don’t usually kill them,” I thought, “and this really doesn’t make logical sense. Why am I killing a living creature that is not doing me any harm? Why is that my intuitive reaction to a spider?”

I realized it was an intuitive reaction because I had grown up my entire childhood seeing my mother, aunts, teachers, friends and parents of friends smashing spiders. I had seen cartoons, commercials, TV shows and even a scene in a movie where someone screamed and smashed a spider. It was programmed. It was programmed so well I almost didn’t realize I was doing something I didn’t agree with.

But then when I thought it out logically I realized smashing the little spider didn’t make any sense at all. First, it was not going to harm me. Secondly, it had no idea it was in the “wrong place” so it was not doing anything to me on purpose. Thirdly, it was a living creature that deserved to live as much as any other living creature and last, but not least, it was probably helping cut down on any other insect infestations I might be in danger of.

It got me thinking – how many other things do we do intuitively but if we think about it we don’t really agree with them? Or we feel there might be a different way but we just don’t know what to do other than follow our “programmed reactions” (from relatives, friends, school, and media).

How many times do we find ourselves reacting in a programmed way when we parent our children? Or when we teach a homeschooling lesson? Or even when we try to heal ourselves or our family?

If we want to empower our children and ourselves to make good choices in life, we want to be as healthy as we can be, and we want to make our lives the best they can be we need to make sure we do a “reality check” every once in a while and explore what conditioned reactions or expectations we have to things that might need an update. I’ve worked on hundreds over the years. Here are some of mine that I can think of “of the top of my head”. Some are silly and some are more serious. They are all things I was taught as a child by friends, family, school and/or media that I realized later in life I don’t believe in.

1. You should always smash spiders.
2. School has to start at 9:00am and end at 3:00pm.
3. A guy opening a door for me is always bad.
4. Eggs are always unhealthy.
5. Milk is the only way to get the calcium I need.
6. Worksheets are an essential part of school.
7. Kids who get high scores on the SAT are the smartest.
8. Ketchup and Mayo always come in a bottle.
9. Granola bars are always healthy.
10. Pepto Bismol is the best thing for an upset stomach – no matter what the reason.
11. Fast food is always worse than food at fancy restaurants (I learned that nice restaurants often have butter, salt and fat-laden foods too!)

What are your “conditioned reactions/expectations”? And how have you changed them to enrich your life and the life of your family? How have you changed your conditioned reactions to make your child’s school experience better than yours was? How have you changed your conditioned reactions to improve your health or the health of those you love? Share with us by leaving a comment here.

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