Pass the Bean Dip

I need to start by saying that the idea that I am about to share is not my own, original idea. It is one that was shared on the iVillage homeschool message board where I was a community leader years ago. I wish I knew to whom to give credit.

{Edited to add: After many years of searching, credit appears to be due Joanne Ketch. Thanks to those who commented and pointed me in the right direction. I really like the last paragraph of Joanne’s article. You should go read it.}

I believe that it had been previously shared on another board, but it quickly became something of a rallying cry for homeschoolers beleaguered by unsupportive friends and family. To this day, most of the people on the message board would know what you were talking about if you told them they should “pass the bean dip.”

When your decision to homeschool is not up for debate, just pass the bean credit keith mcduffy on flickr

It is not uncommon for homeschooling parents to find themselves in the position of being questioned about their schooling choices…or for any parents to find themselves being questioned about their parenting choices, for that matter. The problem of unsupportive family and friends is not unique to homeschooling parents.

The problem isn’t really the unsupportive family and friends, however. The point where the problem really starts tends to be the point where we, as parents, begin defending our choices and trying to convince the other party that our choices are right – when we try to make them agree with us. This sends the signal that the choice in question is open to debate. If the choice is open for debate, then, feel free to go ahead and have the conversation with the opposing party.

However, if the choice is not open for debate, it’s time to pass the bean dip.

Why are you all homeschooling little Suzie? What about socialization?

Suzie has many friends of all ages. Could you pass the bean dip?

What if you don’t teach little Johnny everything he needs to know? How is he ever going to get into college?

You’d be surprised at how many options Johnny has for college. Could you pass the bean dip?

What about all the things that Mary is going to miss out on by not being in school?

Mary is enjoying a very well-rounded childhood. Could you pass the bean dip?

Of course, if the questions are being asked by well-meaning loved ones who really do have your children’s best interest at heart, there’s nothing wrong with explaining your choices. Often, I’ve found that the support comes a couple of years into homeschooling when the grandparents begin to see that you really can teach your child at home and he really does have friends. When the support doesn’t come, though, or the discussion becomes a debate, it’s okay to pass the bean dip with even the grandparents.

It’s okay to say, “We love you and we know that you love little Suzie, however, we are her parents. This is not a decision that we have made lightly and we feel that it is the right choice for our family. We would love your support, but our decision is not open for discussion or debate.”

Somehow, though, it’s a lot more fun to say, “Could you pass the bean dip, please?”

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  1. Made To Organize says

    I loved this post. This is our first year homeschooling and to say that my family was not “fully on board” would be an understatement. It’s good to know I’m not the only one that gets those doubtful statements and questions as if I’ll change my entire course of action based on whether or not my child will attend a PROM or HOMECOMING!

  2. shannon says

    I believe that Joanne, The Happy Homeschooler, is the originator of this phrase. She wrote quite a bit on her blog about how to set boundaries. I believe that I read her blog was compromised and is off the internets for now. Word is she plans to put it back up when she has the time to fix things.

    • Kris Bales says

      Yeah, I have no idea who originally coined the phrase. I first heard it on a message board about a decade ago way back before most of us (including me) even knew what a blog was. Wherever it came from, it makes sound, practical advice for dealing with nay-sayers.

      • Jodi says

        Yes, it is Joanne, also of GOYB Parenting, which also appears to be offline right now. :-/ She originally came up with the bean dip idea in relation to attachment parenting, and then applied the concept to homeschooling. I have used the proverbial ‘bean dip’ for years, and has spared a lot of stress. :)

  3. says

    Forgive me for sounding like a total ignoramus, but I need things a little more spelled out. Do you literally say “Pass the bean dip” no matter the context and ride on the laughs? Or are you just advising that you change the subject quickly?
    Shirley recently posted..Sit-Still-SqueezerMy Profile


  1. […] We started homeschooling this week.  I never really planned to homeschool Nasko (or any of our children!), but when we were shown his classroom options for the year, we realized that none of them were good fits for him.  Nasko has always shown the most progress cognitively at home, so we decided to play on his strengths and homeschool him.  Please pass the bean dip… […]

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