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Every homeschooling parent knows about the “S” word — socialization. We’ve all had conversations with concerned relatives who wonder if our kids are being properly socialized. Read any article about homeschooling in a mainstream media source and inevitably the comments section will fill up with concerns about it. Never mind that we also talk about socializing puppies and that children who are caught socializing too much in school are reprimanded. People who don’t know anything about the homeschooling family down the street have “grave concerns” about whether those children are being properly socialized.

By “socialization,” many of these folks are really wondering if the kids will grow up to be weird or odd somehow. There are two basic assumptions—false assumptions—that people make when considering homeschoolers and the threat of “weird” personalities that arise because of a lack of socialization.

The first assumption is that anyone can adequately define “weird.”

If you were the homecoming queen who was named Miss Congeniality in your high school yearbook and went on to have a daughter who followed in your footsteps, you will have a very specific image in your mind of how a “normal” high school kid should look and act. Likewise, if you were the gym rat who majored in football.

On the other hand, if you were the shy, shaggy-haired boy who eschewed grooming and spent your high school lunch hour playing Dungeons and Dragons, your categories for “weird” and “normal” will skew a little differently than Joe Football’s categories. Beauty and normal are in the eye of the beholder. And contrary to the persistent Duggar-style stereotype, homeschoolers come in all shapes, sizes, and personality types. There are the jocks, the hipsters, the computer geeks, and the goth kids (although you will find plenty who actually are just like the Duggars).