I’ve had the majority of this post sitting in draft for over a month. I hate confrontation and I know this is going to step on some toes. It’s going to make some people mad and I really don’t like doing that, but I think it’s something that needs to be said.
There are lots of things we homeschool families get tired of hearing and I’ve had some fun with them over the years with articles like 7 Things You Should Never Say to a Homeschool Mom and 10 Lies People Believe About Homeschooling Families.
But did you ever think about the things that public school parents get tired of hearing from us?
Yeah, I’m going there. Because, y’all, it’s a two-way street and we’re not innocent. If we want to quit hearing obnoxious, judgmental things, maybe we need to offer the olive branch of peace by not saying obnoxious, judgmental things ourselves.
1. “That’s why we homeschool.”
This one makes me cringe because I hear it at the worst possible times. After a school shooting is not the time to utter those words. When a 15-year-old girl has been raped by her bus driver is not the time to utter those words. True story.
You may be glad that you homeschool because your kids are home where they don’t have to worry about school shootings and bus rapes, but, honestly, stuff happens everywhere.
I’m guessing that the person who made the comment about the bus rape never actually thought, “I’m going to homeschool so that one day my 15-year-old daughter doesn’t get raped by the bus driver.” Even if she did think those very words, that is not what the parent of the girl who got raped wants or needs to hear.
Yes, many homeschool families did make the decision to homeschool, at least in part, with safety concerns in mind, but when something horrible has happened to a kid or group of kids, that’s the time to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I’m grieving with you,” not “That’s why we homeschool.”
When something tragic happens to kids, it should make us hug our kids a little tighter and grieve for the parents who can’t. We’re all trying to do the best we can for our kids.
2. “You’re failing your kids by sending them to school.”
It’s great to be passionate about homeschooling. However, if we don’t want random strangers telling us we’re ruining our kids by homeschooling them, we can’t be telling random strangers that they’re ruining their kids by sending them to public school.
You may think it – I don’t, but I know people do – but, guess what. The person who says that stuff to you thinks it, too, and you don’t like hearing it from them.
A while back, I saw an article shared on Facebook about how the public schools are not meeting the needs of a certain group of kids. Someone commented something to the effect that the author was failing her kids by continuing to send them to public school. I wondered if the commenter would think differently if she knew – as I happened to – that the author was a former homeschooling parent who had to send her kids to public school following a divorce.
When someone vocally disagrees with our decision to homeschool, we tell them things such as:
- Homeschooling is a personal decision.
- We know our kids better than anyone.
- This is a decision that we have carefully made for our family; it’s not up for debate.
If we expect people to respect our right to make our own decisions about our kids, we have to respect theirs, as well.
You don’t know what went into a parent’s decision to send her kids to public school. Maybe it was just because that’s what most people do when their kids turn 5. Maybe that parent doesn’t feel up to the task of homeschooling. Maybe she desperately wants to homeschool, but her husband isn’t on board.
I have a niece who was homeschooled exclusively up until high school. At that point, she and her parents, who had already graduated her two older brothers from homeschool, made the prayerful, carefully-considered decision for her to attend public school so that she could work toward a softball scholarship. (She was successful.)
I have a friend who successfully graduated two kids from their homeschool, then, made the decision – along with her child – for the youngest to enter public school after several years of homeschooling.
I have another friend whose kids returned to public school following a divorce.
I have several friends who were passionate homeschooling families whose kids chose to attend public school for middle school or high school.
I don’t think any of them love their kids any less than I love mine. I don’t think any of them are failing their kids anymore than I think I am failing mine. They are parents who love their kids and are making the best decisions they can for and with them – just like I am.
I think we, as parents, need to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. We, as homeschool parents, can’t complain about people not respecting our right to make decisions for our families if we aren’t offering them the same courtesy.
I love this article from Heather Sanders at The Pioneer Woman, Homeschooling Is a Method, not a Mandate. We’ve got to stop making careless comments and snap judgments.
There are some terrible, abusive parents out there, but the litmus test for parental abuse is not a schooling choice – whichever side of the public school/private school/homeschool debate you land on. And, while we’re at it, let’s stop tearing down our fellow homeschool parents, too.
The vast majority of us are doing the best we can to raise our kids to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted, well-educated adults. Let’s respect that – and each other.
This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.
top image courtesy of pixabay