Have any of y'all seen The Dog Whisperer? That show is AMAZING!!! I want that guy to come live with us! Tongue in cheek, I mentioned the show briefly in another post as maybe being the answer to problems with kids. In reality, it is through this show that I had a bit of an epiphany about myself.
If you've been reading this blog awhile you probably know that we crate our dogs. Some people have strong feelings against this but our vet crates his own dogs and advises others to do so as a safety for the dog issue. We knew some people in Mississippi that had their dog die under their Christmas tree two days before Christmas because he chewed on the lights. Anyway, crating them controls the amount of trouble they can get into. I've come to realize, however, that I've used the crates too much and in place of proper training.
Benny is very exuberant so he and Lu Lu are always crated when we have guests over. It occurred to me that I go to great lengths to control their environment. I keep all the doors closed to the areas I don't want them. I make sure everything is picked up and put away so as not to tempt Benny. If I cannot keep my eye on them I put them in their crates. Rather than teach Benny how to behave when people come to the house... rather than teach Benny what he can and cannot play with... rather than give him some room to make some mistakes... I crate him.
Then it hit me... I did that with my children. I spent more time controlling their environment than I did training them.
I've been accused on many occasions of being an overprotective mother. That is a common accusation made against those who homeschool. I couldn't see it because I wasn't sheltering my children as much as others I knew were sheltering their children. I told my children about others' beliefs and views...
If we had it all to do over again... we would still choose to homeschool. We would do it from the very beginning and then send the kids to school in Jr. High or High School. We did homeschool Double Shot that way and I think he's going to be much better prepared for life when he hits 18.
I can see now where we had the girls on too short of a leash. We sent them to an early college program for their senior year of high school last year. We were planning on sending Chai to college 6 hours away this fall. We thought it would be wise to have them take college courses on a college campus while still at home so that they could better transition from homeschooling to college. We let some slack into the leashes and allowed them to make more of their own choices. Chai Tea had been straining against that leash for a long time and when she got some slack she took off running and yanked it right out of our hands.
I'm trying very hard to use the crates less often. A couple weeks ago we had some friends over and asked them to please bear with us as we tried to get through Benny's excitement of being out while they were here. It was not easy because he could go from person to person which kept him wound up. We are having people over on Saturday and this time I think we'll try taking him on a long walk before they arrive. It would be nice for Lu Lu. It's really not fair that she gets crated because Benny gets upset if she is out and he is not.
And... hopefully, we have learned to gradually release our leash on Double Shot.