I’m a strong advocate of homeschooling, and have been doing it since 2005. But I’d be

Related image
Snowflake, photographed by Wilson Bentley, one of 5,000 unique photographs he took between 1885 and 1931. Photo from Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium.

among the first to admit that there are downsides to homeschooling. A big one: It is far too easy to surround ourselves with other families who think like we do. It is comforting to do this, of course, because homeschooling can be grueling and we need to draw support where we can. However, the downside is that our children do not get used to being around other people who have different beliefs or opinions. The Urban Dictionary has an interesting listing of definitions of the term ‘snowflake,’ referring to a highly sensitive person who is easily offended, in the latest iteration. Of course, much of our society is very busy isolating itself from others who have different beliefs. Social media is speeding up that process.

That means that we parents need to make extra efforts to nudge our highly sensitive,  opinionated, empathetic, and verbal teens to engage in a positive way with people who do not agree with them. This is painful for some of our teens. It is hard to come to terms with others who have different beliefs. I do not mean that everyone should agree with everyone else. How boring! Instead, our teens must learn how to agree to disagree, and instead find areas of shared interest. I believe in my heart that our society’s future depends on these young people finding ways to overcome differences.

I am so proud of the teens at Teen Learning Lab who have learned embrace the challenge of learning from others who have different opinions. Those teens are truly demonstrating their intellectual curiosity and resilience. They will be successful no matter what they choose to do with their lives, because they are learning how to work with all kinds of people in creative, positive ways. Those teens are developing into resilient adults who will be able to handle anything life throws at them. Snowflakes are lovely, but to thrive in our world our teens need to be made of sterner stuff.