Reason #19: IdentityOne of my main goals in parenting is to guide my child into being sure of her identity, but more importantly, to be proud of it. I’ll be honest, some of this relates to my experiences in middle school and high school, when I was incredibly bright and I was thin and pretty, yet I wasn’t proud of myself, and always tried to be something I was not. I never spoke up in class, and I even gave incorrect answers on purpose to pretend that I was “normal” – or anyway, what I thought was “normal.” I had such a low self-esteem that I clung desperately to those kids who were part of the “cool” crowd, and I tried so hard to fit in that in effect, I didn’t. I was so desperate that I would have done anything if the “cool” crowd had accepted me: drugs, sex, alcohol, stealing, lying, etc. I’m not proud to say that at all. I’m so glad that somehow I was spared those things – I never actually had the chance to do any of them, because I was such an awkward geek everyone just ignored me and pushed me away – – I can only say today, THANK GOD!As an adult, I’m stronger, but I still struggle with my own self-esteem. I don’t take criticism very well at all, and I’m always worried that “people won’t like me if I _____.” I’m pretty good now at hiding those feelings, but sometimes they still overtake me. I work very hard at teaching Laynie not to worry about what other people think of her, but to enjoy the things she enjoys and to be proud of her accomplishments, whatever they might be. I try to teach her that she is so, so very special. I hope she grows up with a healthy confidence, and doesn’t look to other people to find self worth, like I did.How this relates to my reasons for homeschooling is this: I want Laynie to know that she always has control over her own learning. As a school teacher, I was always aware that my students didn’t understand their ability to relate to the material they were learning, and they had no real connection or desire to engage in it. They just did it because they had to, to make the teacher or their parents happy, and to get through the day so they could go home and relax. In contrast, I want Laynie to take charge of her education, to enjoy it, to be proud of her academic achievements, and to feel confident about the material she’s required to learn. There will be very little rote memorization which will be forgotten after the test. It will all seem real to her, and become a part of who she is. My hope is that she will be proud of how smart she is (you know what I mean – not some heady know-it-all, but a confident child who isn’t afraid to share her knowledge with those who are interested). I hope that as a teenager she’ll also have a strong enough self-esteem to tell the “cool” kids to kiss her butt if they don’t accept her, and to find true friends with whom she can share fun memories without all peer-pressure drama that most kids experience inevitably in public school.