I hate confrontation and I’m probably about to step on some toes. I’m going to make some people mad and I really don’t like doing that. But it’s something that needs to be said. Y’all, there are some things homeschool parents need to quit saying.
There are lots of things we homeschool families get tired of hearing. 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 comments, maybe we need to offer the olive branch of peace by not making obnoxious, judgmental comments 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 gets 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 commented on 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 decide to homeschool, at least in part, with safety concerns in mind. But when something horrible happens, that’s the time to say, “I’m praying for you” or “I’m grieving with you.” It is not the time to say, “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.
And, yeah, it’s okay to say that gently when you’re offering a solution that a parent may not have even considered. But wait. Say it with grace and love. Leave the I-told-you-so tone for another situation.
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 particular 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, too.
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. Perhaps 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 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.
Another friend’s kids returned to public school following a divorce.
Several passionate homeschooling families I know have kids who 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 they are failing their kids any more than I think I am failing mine. They are parents who love their kids. They’re making the best decisions they can for and with them – just like I am.
Parents, we need to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. Let’s not complain about people not respecting our decisions for our families if we aren’t offering 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 guess what. The litmus test for parental abuse is not a schooling choice. That’s true no matter which 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.
We’re all 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.