If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked that question, I'd be on a cruise.

Years ago, I took my troops for an afternoon at the park. An older woman watched me pushing my young children on the swings and asked, "Don't they go to school?"

"I home school."

"Do you plan on keeping them home through high school?"

"I certainly hope so."

"But what about the prom?" she asked with genuine concern.

"We'll cross that dance when we come to it." I said.

A Rite Of Passage?

The prom is often seen as a rite of passage, but in many cases it is really an over-rated, expensive night of debauchery. When did attending it become the end-all of socialization for teenagers? Will my children be permanently scarred for life from lack of wearing semi-formal attire, eating at a fancy restaurant and dirty-dancing the night away? As a teenager (and before I was a Christian), I went to a number of formal school functions. What I remember of them is not anything I want my children to repeat. I wonder, what happened to all the girls I went to school with who didn't have a date for the prom and stayed home eating gallons of Häagen-Dazs ice cream? Were they able to graduate and lead productive lives? Someone should do a study titled, what quality of life can a non-promer expect?

The Real Issue Is Socialization

Over the last 17 years, I have learned to just laugh when someone asks me, "What about the prom?" They aren't only asking about the prom. They are really asking, "Will your children be able to carry on intelligent conversations, have friends, and not turn out just plain weird?" The real issue is socialization. They don't think homeschool children are well socialized—they believe we're isolating our children. For the record, my children can carry on intelligent conversations, not just with people in their age groups, but with young, medium, and old. As for being friendly, they are even on a first name basis with, Steve, the UPS deliveryman. Are my kids weird? Aren't we all a little different? Go hang out at the DMV for an hour and watch the people. You'll realize that homeschoolers don't have any market on weirdness—it's a universal issue.

Isolate vs. Insulate

I don't consider homeschool as isolating my children from the real world, but as insulating them. I'm protecting them. It's my job and I take it seriously. Most Christians wouldn't send a five-year-old to a "Mormon" or "Atheist" school, but don't think twice about sending them to a public school where some of the teachers have just as much of an agenda.

My daughter, Ashley, had an opportunity to go to a friend's prom when she was high school age, but turned it down. Two years ago, she got married. Among other things, there were fancy dresses, rented tuxes, corsages, and touching music. It was a beautiful day and she agrees that it was better than any prom could have been.

This year, the home school group that I belong to is hosting a high school "prom." The group of kids will ride in a limousine and eat at a dinner theatre.

I asked my 17-year-old, Zachary, "Do you want to go?"

"Would I have to wear nice clothes?"

"Yes."

"No, I don't want to go. I'm not dressing up on purpose."

I'm thinking about going back to that park and looking to see if that older woman is still lurking around the swings.

I can't wait till she asks me, "What about the prom?"

Tonya Ruiz is a dynamic communicator and Bible teacher who speaks nationally about some of today's most important issues. She is a pastor's wife, homeschooling mother and grandmother who calls Southern California home. Her website is www.TonyaRuiz.com.