Our family started the homeschooling journey when my son was just 4 years old. Our first goal was to teach him how to read. From there we decided that we would travel the path one step at a time and each year at a time. Back then, my husband and I weighed all the advantages and disadvantages to homeschooling. What would my son miss out on? What benefits would he loose? Would he still get to participate in various programs and sports? What about friends? What about Prom?
Looking back I can definitely say that we made the right decision. Our goals for our family encompassed so much more than a few opportunities. We had discipleship in mind. And by the grace of God, we feel as though we have been on the right path all these years. Sure, we stumble by the wayside some days; sure we struggle to climb those high hills, but God has been with us each step of the way, guiding our family. With that said, the advantages have far outweighed the disadvantages. It has become clear that homeschooled children have just as many opportunities for education, programs, and sports. As far as friends are concerned, this has never been an issue. My children have always had friends of all ages in abundance. From neighbors, to friends at church, to homeschooled peers, God has always provided friendships. And when it came to things such as prom and formals, I had decided many years ago that it would not be that big of deal if my children missed them. After all, as Christians, why do we feel like we need to do the same things the world does?
Now fast forward to today. Who knew that I would blink my eyes and be standing here with a 15 year old young man asking if he can go to a dance? A local homeschool group hosts a Spring Formal every year and Abigail (my 13 year old) asked if she could go. My first thought was “absolutely not.” But, I had someone send me the information anyway and as it turned out, she was too young. There, problem solved….until Aaron asked to go. This surprised me. So, I pulled back out the information and looked at it again. Here is what it said,
Home schooled high school students (gr. 9-12), alumni, parents and friends, join us for a Christ-honoring formal event! Don your favorite formal wear and enjoy an evening of fellowship and fun~
Did you catch that? This would be a “Christ honoring” event. I kept reading.
MODESTY is of ABSOLUTE importance. We are a CHRISTIAN community of worshipers of the ONE TRUE GOD OF THE BIBLE. We may not agree on everything but we can agree on the importance of honoring God in the way we present our bodies as a living sacrifice and the importance of not causing our “brothers to stumble”
LADIES…please do not wear plunging necklines or backless dresses. Straps on your dress need to be thick enough to be recognizable as straps. “Spaghetti” straps are not okay. If you have a dress that you really want to wear and are unsure if it passes the “modesty” test…wear a shawl, shrug or jacket that will remain on during the entire evening.
GENTLEMEN… .please wear belts…we DO NOT want to see ANY of your underwear.
Okay, so I liked what I read. Then after speaking to a mom who has attended every year, Dana and I decided that we would go with Aaron. And he was happy to have us tag along. (I know this because I asked if it bothered him that we were going. He said, “Oh course not, why would it?”) We decided that if we liked what we saw we would let Abigail go with us next year. I’ve had several other mom’s ask me to share my thoughts about the evening. So here goes.
I will admit that I went into the evening somewhat skeptical. My first impression was that it looked like my own high school prom, from the decorations to the flash photography. But upon closer examination, I did notice a couple of significant differences. The first was the amount of adults. While I am not sure of the numbers, there seemed to be 100-150 people there. And it looked to me that there were as many adults as there were youth. I was thrilled to see all the alumni and parents.
The second thing I noticed was how the young ladies dressed. Most of the young ladies (90%) followed the dress code. A few did not. But for the most part I was very pleased with how modest all these young girls looked in their beautiful formals.
One of my favorite dresses was of this young lady who sat at our table. She was accompanied to the dance by her father who wore a matching camouflage shirt. It was precious.
The evening began with pictures and then a sit down meal. I had Chicken & Shrimp sautéed in a pesto cream with plum tomatoes and fettuccine. Aaron and Dana had sautéed chicken breast finished with a Marsala mushroom sauce served with mashed potatoes and green beans. It was good. There were several games afterwards and the music started at around 9 p.m. Before the music began there was another reminder to the group that we were a Christian organization and that everything we did needed to be Christ honoring.
Let me first say that our family listens to very little secular music. If you don’t count Veggie Tales or Tim Hawkins songs, you could say we listen to NO secular music. Music stirs the soul. I believe that it will either stir your soul towards God or away. (You can read my full opinion on music here.) So, I really wasn’t sure what my thoughts would be on the music. The music ranged from a techno version of the Cotton Eyed Joe to Elvis Songs to the Macarena with lots in between. My husband has an app on his phone that picks up the lyrics to any song played and we noticed that one of the songs toward the beginning of the evening had a bleeped out “F-word”. While I was glad it was bleeped out, I really didn’t see a point in the song being played. It might have, however, just been an oversight with those who put the playlist together.
Most all of the dancing was group dancing, like the Cha Cha Slide. There was some Waltz (with instruction) and the Swing dance. I would have personally liked to see a lot more ballroom dancing throughout the evening. But, it appeared that the dancing was as innocent as dancing could be. I didn’t see a lot of “coupling”. There just wasn’t a big romance theme going on. The youth were simply having fun, enjoying the fellowship. I did see a lot of dads/daughters and moms/sons dancing together. That was nice. One thing about homeschooled children is that they are rarely cliquish and always friendly. I was reminded again of this during the evening. Everyone seemed welcome and no one really looked excluded.
Overall, I would equate the dance to “empty calories” – you know, potato chips, ice cream, cookies. These things taste good, but provide no real nourishment. I did not walk away saying, “Wow, I’m so thankful my child had this opportunity! This has really added to his life in a very meaningful way!” Nor did I walk away from the evening saying, “Wow, I wish we had never attended. This was a huge mistake!” I walked away thinking that it was okay. Aaron enjoyed the evening. I enjoyed seeing him dressed up. The fellowship was nice. He enjoyed his friends, made new ones, and was able to experience the whole formal evening in a safe environment. I really appreciated all the work that was put into the evening to make it a nice event for the whole family.
So the bottom line is that each family needs to make their own decision based on their convictions. Will we go next year? Probably so, chances are Dana and I will take both Aaron and Abigail. While this is not something we would just drop our children off at, going as a family will be an enjoyable event we will look forward to each year.
One thought on “Homeschooling, Teens, & Formals”
Great review of the Spring Formal. You sound like I did/do when I talk to others about it. I remember going through all the things I thought my kids would “miss out on” and they haven’t missed out on much. We have to be in the world but not of it and there were a lot of people in the restaurant that night that noticed a difference in our celebration compared to others they had witnessed. They will know who we are by the love we show each other. It is a loving thing to be respectful and support each other in having fun in a Godly way.