Other People Fixing My Problems

Ok, how many of us know people who want other people to fix the world for them?

For example, Dana writes about advice given to a woman who wants to know if she should report a neighboring family who doesn’t use structure in their home, and whose children “can’t read”.

Dana writes such a good response, there’s not much for me to say.

But I do want to say this: Why is it someone else’s problem (i.e. CPS) if things are happening around us that we don’t like? If someone is being a jerk, we want to sue them and have the courts punish him. If we don’t like a law, we think our legislators should do something about it. If our neighbor is being a “bad” parent, we want someone to come fix them for us.

What the hell? What ever happened to community social pressure? Are we so detached from our neighbors now that we can’t even stand up for our own beliefs and pressure our neighbors ourselves into being more like us? Instead, we get “big brother” to come and pressure them for us. Being a nosy neighbor who tries to tell everyone how to live their lives isn’t enough anymore. Now we call in people with “power” to back us up and force people to do what we think they should be doing.

Bah. Unless I see someone actually abusing a child with physical force, or leaving them in the car or something, they are gonna hear it from ME. Can you imagine? “Ya, officer, I called you here to ask you to tell my neighbor to start giving him more spelling tests.” If I want my neighbor to give her son more spelling tests, I’m gonna stick MY nose in there thank you very much. That’s my neighborly duty.

Man. Whatever happened to old-time values and social structure?

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11 Responses to “Other People Fixing My Problems”

  1. Donna Says:

    I alternating between amusement and my own outrage over this letter. I could almost understand her concern if she were a relative, but this is her sister’s friend she’s distraught over? Sadly, this is the sort of thing some homeschoolers fear. I remember chatting with a homeschooling mom who confided in a hushed voice that she was worried her children would be taken away if she wasn’t following correct homeschooling procedures.

  2. Dana Says:

    When we first moved here, our neighbor came over to talk to us about our dog. She had barked a little during the day…nothing excessive but she is a big dog. And the neighbor’s husband slept during the day which we didn’t know. She told us the hours and we made sure our dog wasn’t out during those hours.

    It was such a relief. And then I thought, why is it in so many places the first you will know that your dog is annoying your next door neighbor is when the police officer knocks at your door with a ticket?

    Why is it easier to call the police on someone than just knocking on their door?

  3. Sheri Says:

    Well said Tammy.

    It’s people like that woman who terrified me when I first decided to homeschool. Fortunately, I have yet to actually come across one since we started.

    I wonder why, when the woman seemed so concerned, that she didn’t even bother to find out more about homeschooling before deciding to be outraged. Energy wasted instead of being used to LEARN something.

  4. Tammy Says:

    So right Sheri. Ironic, isn’t it?

    Donna – this isn’t a homeschooling issue. This is a social issue of being completely disconnected from the very people who live next door to us. The world may be shrinking via technology, but it doesn’t bring us together. The homeschool mom you talked to, well, that says it all really.

    Dana – That’s rare indeed. It’s what we try to do in our neighborhood too. But it’s not easy. When we complained to our neighbor about her kids driving too fast down the street, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “nothing I can do about it.” So not only do we not interact with our neighbors when something’s wrong, but we don’t care if our neighbors are bothered by our actions. Total disconnect. Sounds like your neighborhood hasn’t lost that. I wonder how to keep this going in our own neighborhoods? Be the first to start the trend? Lead by example perhaps?

  5. Kerrie Says:

    This one has me irked enough to come out from lurking. 🙂

    I know the issue here isn’t necessarily about homeschooling, but it’s really gotten me thinking about whether or not I should keep my family’s homeschooling business more private. If some “well-intentioned” nosy know-it-all would consider reporting a family because she disagrees with their philosophy regarding the education of their own children, where do we draw the line?

    Should we report families whose children are obese? What about families who feed their children high fructose corn syrup and trans fat? How many times per month should kids be allowed to eat fast food? What about people who don’t agree with vegetarianism? What about people who disapprove of teaching my children my religious beliefs? Perhaps divorce should be considered a form of child abuse. With this type of butting-in, eventually all of our freedoms will be compromised.

    Can open. Worms everywhere.

  6. Sheri Says:

    Anyone else read 1984? Yikes. Kerrie’s comment brought it immediately to mind. Scary stuff.

  7. WL Says:

    >Why is it easier to call the police on someone than just knocking on their door?<

    If you’ve ever knocked on a neighbor’s door to inform them politely that their dog or their loud stereo or their habit of mowing the lawn at 7 am on a Sunday morning has been affecting your enjoyment of your own home, and that person has repsonded by screaming at you, cursing you out, and then glaring at you angrily whenever you meet on the street, you’d be in a better position to understand why many people would prefer to have a policeman deal with the problem.

    I say this as someone who has had neighbors who not only treated me this way – they treated the police the same way. The main difference between me and the police is that they are armed, they get paid to deal with people like that, and they don’t have to live next to my neighbors.

  8. Noodle Doodle » Blog Archives » Child Abuse Says:

    […] talk about child abuse, shall we? One of the homeschooling blogs I read regularly featured a story about a woman who was considering reporting a family to social […]

  9. Anna Says:

    You know, I think it is plain discomfort with confrontation that keeps people from handling things directly. We have neighbors who are inattentive to their children’s safety, and we have others who have called them on it. It was ugly. I am more than willing to deal with those whom I consider rational. I have had talks with neighbors (oh, lord the days of apartment living!) when their behavior had a negative impact on me. There are some neighbors that I give a wide berth….and those tend to be the ones who need to have a little sit-down.

    As for the homeschooling, I am willing to bet that the complainant has a predisposition against homeschooling. She probably does not understand it; she probably does not really want to. I take every opportunity that presents itself to talk about homeschooling. I think the more people who understand it, the better for all of us.

  10. tobeme Says:

    I think the social structure of which you speak has slipped away as our society has become more law suit happy. People are afraid to get involved. Plus years ago, the Mother’s traditionally were at home all day, therefore you knew your neighbors. In todays family where both people work, you can go a whole Winter without even saying hi to your neighbor.
    Of course, we don’t want everyone to conform to our standards do we? I ceartanly don’t want other people to force their standards on me.
    If there is something sinister, dangerous, abusive going on, then by all means get involved or get someone involved. Otherwise it is important to allow people to live as they choose to live as long as that choice does not infringe on our personal choices.

  11. Mandy Says:

    I agree with WL that it can be anything from futile to very dangerous to approach a neighbor these days. However, I have seen that some people have started trying to bridge the neighbor gap by doing things people used to- like a block party or taking cookies to people as they are moving in and getting to know them from the start.

    Next weekend our apartment complex is having a garage-sale and anyone who wishes to participate can set up a table in the parking lot or outside their unit. I plan to go around and get to know my neightbors! 🙂


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