A space where family, friends and anyone else can follow our adventures. We are a homeschooling, crafting, music-making, back-flipping wonderfully crazy family living on the coast of Maine enjoying everything life has to offer us!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Trouble with the Truth

Growing up is tough.  Raising children who are growing up is really tough.  My babies are 10 and 11, still babies of course, but they are bright kids who are eager to learn.  Our home schooling lessons have been centered around a lot of history lately.  American history, westward expansion, the civil war, slavery.  Not a proud time in our nations history, but it is a time in our history that we are talking about.

We have kept these little people we are raising pretty sheltered from the realities of our sometimes pretty cruel world.  Until they were around 7 and 8 there was really no screen time in their lives.  No news, TV, movies, video games.  We did lots of reading together as a family, games keeping them at arms length and enjoying just letting them be children.  As they have gotten older we now watch a family movie, sometimes classics, sometimes movies based on books we've read.  Corey at 10 has now seen The Lord of the Rings movies!  Honestly they scare the crap out of him, but he's read the books so many times he has the things memorized and really wanted to experience the movies.  For him and his fantasy led mind knowing what happens makes it OK (especially when dad is right beside you).  But I'm getting sidetracked here...

Back to history, we recently watched a Ken Burns documentary called The West from PBS.  Wow, excellent, but very intense.  There were a lot of questions from kids and there was a lot of anger and confusion.  I think until this point the only view of "cowboys and Indians"  was very fictionalized.  Pilgrims and Indians sharing large meals, Sacajawea guiding Lewis and Clark happily along the Missouri and the such.  Ken Burns showed a much more realistic and upsetting scene of death and brutality, mostly by "white men" toward native Americans.  Harsh.  I don't recommend this very well done documentary for the "light afternoon viewing".    I do think this is important information for the children to learn, but it was hard to see them so shocked and dismayed by it. 

Now we are reading A Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas This book is available free on line and for your kindle.  Again a very real look at our history, this time slavery.  While the children have known it existed this view is much more real and disturbing.  "How could people think they are better than others?"  "How could they just take children away from their mamas?" These are the type of questions I am hearing on a daily basis.  Chapter 4 was quite bloody. 
We read each chapter together and I have a few questions on the chalk wall for them to write about after as well as some vocabulary words to look up.  We're taking the book quite slow, not because the reading is difficult, but the content is awful at times.  That being said, this is a figure from history that I want them to know about and understand what an important part of our history he truly was/is.
But when is the right time to learn these things?  I find that I doubt myself as a parent when I see the children sad or angry by what they are learning.  But raising them to be good, honest and caring people is what I'm trying to do.  
We still filter world news from them a great deal (my boy wouldn't leave the house) but are slowly letting some truths in.  I dread this part of raising them,  seeing their world change and become harder is not something I enjoy. 

Does anyone else with older kids struggle with this?  How do folks deal with some of these harsh realities?  When are kids ready to hear of such things?


  1. Angie, I just read your post and want to give you an answer [at least from my point of view], but I need a little time to gather the right words. As a Mom with only a 14 year old left to teach, I have been where you are and where you are headed :). I will try and send you an email later on today ok?

  2. Oh darn, I was really hoping to glean some insight, too ^! As a homeschooling mom of only very small children (preschool/K age) I would not know how to answer this. I hope you are encouraged by Tracey's email. Thanks for stopping by from Soulemama on my blog Our House! Have a good week.

    Sarah M

  3. Angie - Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is an AMAZING book that my 6th graders read about the American REvolution and Slavery. Historically accurate and a fabulous read.

    1. Thanks Sara, I will check it out for sure!

  4. We just began to scratch the surface of slavery, the civil war, and the ugly history that is ours. We probably aren't ready for the West documentary yet, and your questions on when and how much are so valid. My kids are sheltered, no doubt about it, but I would prefer that they feel safe and open to ask questions when they do hear more about the sad and harsh realities of our past and present. Thanks for the links Angie and I look forward to hearing what you learn from longtime homeschooling mamas like Tracey!


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