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 for which I used to be a community leader. I wish I knew to whom to give credit. 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.”
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. The sends the signal that the choice in question is up for discussion or 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.
And, 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?”