More about maternal deprivation

Yesterday's post led to an alarming degree of harmony and agreement with the views which I expressed. This is disturbing and I hope it will not become a regular event. I am still looking at the idea of maternal deprivation and disrupted contact with the small child's attachment figure, which is as I said yesterday almost invariably the mother. I know that most home educating parents would sooner sell their children to a vivisectionist than allow anybody to conduct psychological tests or assessments upon them, but even without formal testing I think that it is possible to see some good effects of being close to the mother during childhood, rather than being sent off to school. These centre around the relationship which older home educated children seem to have with their parents.

We looked yesterday at some of the ill effects of maternal deprivation. Bowlby and others documented the stages of a child's reactions to being separated from his mother. There are tears and protests, followed by listlessness and depression. After a while the child becomes detached emotionally and this leads observers to suppose that he is happy with his situation. He is not though and blames his mother for the situation in which he finds himself. This produces in later years hostility towards the person whom he blames for the separation, that is to say the mother.

One of the strange things that I have noticed when talking to friends about their relationships with their children is the number of them who seem at their wits end during adolescence. There seem to be shouting matches between them and their children, even shoving, grabbing and the occasional blow. All say that they sense a lack of respect for them and that their children speak to them with contempt. I am honestly baffled by this and it runs counter both to my own experience and to common sense. One would think, and I have certainly found it to be the case, that as children grow older it should be more and more possible to reason with them and hold sensible conversations. It is true of course that teenagers often get irritable and that their choices are not always the best, but surely one would expect a person who was almost an adult to be a more reasonable being than one who is just a child? This does not seem to be the case with those of my friends' children who are, or have been, at school.

Now I know some parents whose children have not been to school and I am in contact with others by telephone or email. In every case, they report that they get on perfectly well with their adolescent offspring. Sure, there are disagreements as there are bound to be in any family, but all say that it is actually easier as their children are older, rather than harder. I would be interested to know what readers hear have found as their children have become teenagers.

Of course, not all home educators have taught their children from birth. Some of the children will have been to school. This does not seem to make any difference to the generally affectionate relations which seem to survive adolescence. I can see why that should be as well. Some at least of the typically horrible behaviour of children who have spent all their lives at school and nursery can be interpreted as anger and resentment at their mother for not protecting them; in effect they feel that their mother abandoned them. This resentment can, as Bowlby observed, manifest later in various ways including the development of an anti-social personality. Children who have been bullied or having other problems at school and then been deregistered, will surely look upon their mothers in precisely the opposite light. Instead of being subconsciously bitter that their mothers abandoned them or failed to protect them, they will be grateful to their mothers for rescuing them.

As I say, my own personal experience is that my daughter's adolescence seems to be pretty smooth and a natural continuation of childhood. Nobody is shouting here or going mad about anything. This cannot be because I am a particularly patient and tolerant person; I am anything but. I think that it is probably because my daughter knows that I love her and enjoy her company and that this has always been the case. She has been shocked by the way that some of her friends talk about their parents. They say that they hate them. I really would be surprised to hear that this is the case with many home educated children.