If there’s one core truth that I would want every potential homeschooling mom to know, it is this: not everyone is going to get behind your decision to homeschool. Not everyone is going to cheer you on and tell you that you’re making the right decision for your child or children. They’re not all going to agree with this lifestyle, and many of them will have no problem telling you exactly that. In fact, naysayers are one of the first harsh realities of homeschooling that we parents have to learn to deal with. It’s not always easy. But it’s worth it.
Sometimes, the things they say hurt. It doesn’t matter to them that you’ve thought about this decision for years, or that you’ve researched and prayed about it continuously. It doesn’t matter that you have already doubted yourself a million ways and thought that you might not be “good enough” or “educated enough”. They don’t think about that part. And it’s worse if you or one of these family members is tied into the public-school system. In that case, you will most certainly be expected to support that lifestyle and not “turn on them” by homeschooling.
Regardless of their reasoning, or even your own self-inflicted doubts, you are making the right decision. If no one has told you up to this point, then let me be the first one: You’re doing a great thing! This is a wonderful decision you’ve made, and one that you’re not likely to regret! You can do this, and your kids are worth putting in the time to make sure you’re staying on track!
The Saddest Part…
The saddest part about unsupportive family members of homeschoolers is that they are often the reason a homeschooling parent gives up and quits before they ever even really get started. This should never be the case but, all too often, it is. The would-be homeschooling parent who feels they aren’t going to have any support – or worse, knows that they are going to encounter ongoing attacks – will be most likely to not even try.
I implore you, please don’t let that be you! Even in the face of opposition, this is still the best choice for your children, and you needn’t think any other way. You may not have a hefty support group now, but at some point, in the not so distant future, you’ll find that support. All homeschooling parents eventually do, so don’t give up before you even get started!
Decide, and Don’t Turn Back
Making the decision to homeschool is really half the battle. Once you get past all the reasons you’ve given yourself to turn back, you’ve already spent a lot of time and energy. But don’t stop there. When you feel the pressure coming from the outside forces, especially when it’s family members, it can be easy to just throw in the towel for the sake of peace, but you have to remember your commitment. Your calling.
Providing a good foundation of faith and being in charge of your child’s education are literally parts of your job description as a parent. So, when you finally make that decision, stand on it. It’s YOUR child and YOUR choice, so don’t back down once you’ve made the decision. Settle it in your mind, even if it hasn’t happened yet, that there are likely to be those that do not agree with you, question your motives, and try to persuade you to do otherwise.
Avoid the Temptation to Compare
Mark Twain had it right when he said, Comparison is the death of joy. When we spend our time comparing ourselves to others, we can become incredibly discouraged. We see others doing more, teaching more, having more fun, looking better, or having what we think are happier children, so we feel “less than” in every case.
Society is competitive and social media is a breeding ground for dissatisfaction. It’s easy to scroll Facebook and see the endless posts by people celebrating things that they feel are worthy of recognition. But we have to…no, we must…remember that we are not in this for public recognition. If a family member begins to point out that “someone else’s kid” is doing so much better than ours, don’t look to see if they’re right. We know that, regardless of what that other child is doing, ours is moving at the pace that is best for them, that is most comfortable for their learning style and theirability. We don’t give out honor roll emphasis, because there’s no reason to.
Besides, doing more doesn’t mean your child is learning more. In fact, depending on the learning style your child is blessed with, doing more might actually be causing more problems. In truth, sometimes making the decision to homeschool, especially if your child has already had the misfortune of having been public schooled, is based on being able to take away that comparative factor for the benefit of their mental well-being.
Don’t Discuss It
This may go without saying, but you might be better off if you refuse to discuss homeschooling with certain family members. And I would think it would even be all right to tell them why. There are always those that seem to thrive as a Negative Nancy. If that’s the case, just don’t share with that person. And if the conversation heads in that direction, derail it and start over.
Of course, it feels justified to bring the topic up yourself. You may want to use these opportunities to make them see your side of thing, complete with statistics and proof of how well your child is doing. It’s tempting to have the “socialization” argument, especially when you know you’re right, but it simply isn’t always wise. Sometimes, at best, it just gives them more opportunities to speak their mind and offer their negative opinions.
Even when you have family members that aren’t so negative, you might still decide to keep it to yourself if you’re behind in some subject, or not quite up to grade level (if you adhere to that train of thought) in some other. This could be just the breeding ground this seemingly supportive family member needs to sow seeds of doubt and start asking questions. It’s better to just keep all that to yourself, because one day soon, your child will take off and possibly even wind up ahead of the curve in that subject they struggled with for so long.
Learning to Accept It
Sometimes, the only thing you can really do when your family insists that you’re doing the wrong thing by homeschooling it just to accept it and move on. It’s hard, and it can hurt, but you can’t force them to understand. You can’t expect them to simply turn over a new leaf and start seeing things your way, especially if they’ve had a hard time doing that in other areas as well.
At times like this, you have to remember that you’re the one that has to live your life. They aren’t in charge of your homeschooling decision anymore than they’re in charge of the toothpaste you use or what you decided to cook for dinner last night. And since homeschooling is an even bigger and more outstanding decision than anything else, learning how to let go can be a beautiful thing. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s simply that you know in your heart what’s best and what’s right, and you’re willing to do that, even without the support of family members.
Working with Your Spouse
When everyone else is against you, it really means something to have your spouse on board with your homeschooling endeavors. Share with them freely, discuss lessons and lessons plans, or, best of all, share the teaching space with them. For some, spouses can actually be the very first naysayer you have to deal with, but it’s almost always because they don’t yet see or share your vision. Making sure they understand your “why” can make all the difference in the world.
Don’t Forget to Pray
This should be the first thing that happens in your homeschooling decision, just as with all other life decisions. Praying to find out which direction God intends can be so much more beneficial than you might think. I won’t seek to add many words in this department, because it’s truly between you and God… I have no business telling you how or why or when or where. Simply reach out to God. He will meet you at your point of need and give you the sustenance to go from there. He will meet you at your point of need. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5)
In closing, I’d like to address both the homeschooling parent and the opposer of the homeschooling parent…
Dear parents: as you can see, there are ways to work around those who think you’re doing the wrong thing. You don’t have to play into the drama, and you don’t have to believe that what they say about you, your child, and the homeschooling movement as a whole is true. Because it’s not. There’s no need to give up without giving it an honest effort. Reach out for support! Join a co-op, a faith-based homeschooling group, a Facebook support group (or other social media), or even a local support group for others who are not supported in this lifestyle.
Dear unsupportive family members of homeschoolers: you might not realize it, but you’re doing far more harm than good when you speak your negative opinions of the homeschooling lifestyle. We understand that you may have viable emotions tied to your questions, your statements, or your views. You may have read a book or a Facebook post, or seen a documentary, about homeschoolers who use this platform as a means to segregate their children from the real world, or worse. But until you’ve actually taken the time truly to understand homeschooling, and the reasons that parents opt for this educational method, please refrain from speaking ill of homeschooling, and of their efforts to better their child’s academic future. The truth is you simply don’t know.
In both cases, you could stand to gain a great deal by attending a Great Homeschool Convention near you. With seven regional conventions across the United States, you’re sure to find one close enough for you to attend, and you can even take advantage of hotel packages and discounts if you have to travel.
You’ll be able to take part in hundreds of workshops with dozens of informational speakers who are sure to shed light on some of the most important topics for homeschoolers today. To find out more, check out the Great Homeschool Conventions websiteand take a look at the upcoming schedule of events. You won’t want to miss out!