After 15 years of homeschooling, nothing anyone says or asks me concerning it surprises me anymore; but, that has not always been the case. I don’t sweat the questions or negativity from strangers anymore, that’s because I spent years prior having to stand trial. My judges were family and close friends, but I don’t blame them though. I come from a tribe of traditionalists and old schoolers, who like to live by the status quo. They’ll tell you to “put a touch of cereal in the baby’s milk bottle” to help them sleep through the night, and to refrain from cutting a baby’s hair until after their first birthday, so it will keep it’s nice, soft texture. There is another thing they’re also likely to tell you, “kids need to be in regular school!”
Now, Imagine their alarm and how I became an alien, when I didn’t follow any of those things. I breastfed, which eliminated me from the cereal trick and I dared to educate my own kids; I think my mother just about fainted! Well, maybe she simply lost her breath, I can’t be quite sure. What I know she did for certain, along with many others in my family, is make made it clear that she didn’t agree. Now, back then, when I was still a homeschooling newbie, I’d stumble against their pushback. Of course I knew the evidence supporting the benefits of my decision, but it was hard to recall them on the spot. Most didn’t really care about the evidence anyway. Their bombardment was for changing my mind.
Then things shifted. I gained confidence in teaching my own children and I think I was even surprised that I was actually pulling it off. By year ten, I was homeschooling all three of my kids and was really finding my own unique stride. That’s when my responses changed. I no longer needed to memorize facts or statistics or statistics to support what I was doing– I was the proof! homeschooling was working in my household and as such, it became all the evidence I needed.
Of course that didn’t stop the questions. It’s been almost two decades (if you round up) and the curiosity and occasional doubt is still there. The difference today is that I don’t mind the inquiries; sometimes they’re even legitimate, like when people want to know if my kids will be able to go to college, or if I ever plan to send them to school. Other times, when the questions or statements are nonsensical, I bite my tongue and inwardly cringe. Of them all, however, I’d have to say that the most frequent and also the most silly, have undoubtedly been these:
- Well, God Bless you! I could never do something like that! I wish people who say this would just stop! Yes you could. If you can keep a human alive while existing on little to no sleep, stop projectile, bodily fluids with bare hands, implement secret eyes in the back of your head, and can carry 12,000 items, plus two kids, up or down stairs in one trip, you could absolutely teach your own children—probably with your eyes closed. I know, what you really mean to say is that homeschooling is not your thing–I get it. Still, declaring what you couldn’t do for the very ones for whom you’d likely walk on hot coals and swim through shark water for, is just a nonsensical statement to make.
- You must really like being around your kids? Oooookaaay! Again—just dumb! These little ones came from me, quite painfully, I might add, and I put in a great deal of time to make them decent human beings (who are still works in progress). Of course I like spending time with the people I created! If I didn’t, if my children were little monsters that constantly drove me crazy, wouldn’t that say something negative about me? Now, I know they’re really trying to say that being a parent is hard, and as moms, we all need a break. Absolutely! Still, how funny to be considered a unicorn because I actually like being around my kids.
- But, how will they ever make friends? This one always stumps me, because it implies that friends are only made at school, or, that homeschool kids are socially quarantined. Maybe these people forgot their own childhood, and how they made friends with the kids at boy/girl scouts, church, extracurricular sports, the kids in the neighborhood, or with the children of their mom and dad’s friends. They’re likely also overlooking the fact their own children have made friends this same way too. I realize just the word homeschool sometimes discombobulates peoples brains, but trust me, this isn’t that hard to understand.
- Homeschooled kids turn out weird? Well, of course they do, sometimes, but then what’s Johnny and Sydney’s excuse? They’ve only gone to traditional school and people call them weird as well. In fact, thousands of kids who know nothing but traditional school are considered “weird” by other adults and their peers. Why? Because they’re eccentric, creative, non-conformists, free thinkers, old souls, or maybe they just enjoy their own beat. Who knows the exact reason and my answer is usually, “so what?”. How has weird ever hurt anybody? I see more detriment when kids feel compelled to fit in.
- Don’t you think you’re going to shelter them? Yeeeesss! That’s the point! And you shelter your kids too! All good parent’s do it to keep them from growing up way too fast. We just differ in how we chose to shelter. When you monitor your child’s screen time, refuse to discuss adult situations with or around them, restrict the age in which they can date, and keep them from hanging around kids who are bad influences, that’s sheltering in all its glory. Other people might just call it good parenting, in any case, it’s simply making the best decisions for our children while they’re too immature to do so. I’m not sure why this concept gets jumbled with the insertion of the word, homeschool, still I guarantee you, it’s exactly the same.
- How do you know you’re qualified? Albert Einstein once said, “The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library,” and I had that mindset even before I had kids. Even with a college degree, there are absolutely things I just don’t know. But there are libraries, and books, and a thing called the world wide web that has information right at my fingertips. Those are my qualifications; Plus the fact that I’m an expert in knowing my own kids. What’s funny, though, is that most parents who ask me this, don’t realize that they are qualified in exactly the same way!
Tell us, have you made any lifestyle choices that family and friends didn’t agree with? How did you stand firm in the midst of their criticism and doubt? Or, if you are also a homeschool parent, let us know what your experiences were? We love to hear from you!