If you’ve told anyone that you’re planning to homeschool, you’ve probably already met the naysayers, those folks who want to tell you what a horrible decision you’re making and how you’re going to ruin your kids.
Now, I will say, if the people who are voicing their concerns are people you love and care about, who love and care about your kids – your parents, your siblings, or even your spouse (because the two of you definitely need to be on the same page) – listen, honestly and with an open mind, to what they are saying and be willing to consider any valid concerns.
However, if those concerns are from random friends and acquaintances who are basing their arguments on their “friend who had a neighbor who homeschooled” or the cousin of their sister-in-law’s sister who homeschooled, be prepared to respond with firmness and grace.
I do think that, most times, that grace part is pretty important. As homeschooling parents who hear those questions, concerns, and arguments quite frequently, it can be easy to get defensive. However, I think most people aren’t trying to be difficult or argumentative. They’re just reacting to a concept that is completely foreign to them.
Let’s face it. The majority of us went to public school. It’s what we know. It’s just what people do. It’s normal to ask questions about a lifestyle that is completely out of your realm of experience.
Maybe some of us have imagined homeschooling since before our kids were born, but for others, homeschooling seemed weird to us, too, until we started considering it for our own children.
If you’re the only homeschooling family someone has ever known, you are the voice for all homeschoolers. Don’t be a defensive, angry voice. You could be talking to the person whom you’ll be mentoring in a year or so.
When I announced that we were going to start homeschooling Brianna, my sister laughed out loud. Really. A few years later, her daughter joined our homeschool for her preschool year. My family completely changed my sister’s opinion of homeschooling – an opinion that was based on one homeschooled kid that she worked with once.
If you have decided to homeschool, plan for the naysayers because they will find you.
Don’t debate. It’s okay to answer the honest questions, but don’t ever let your educational choices be open for debate. Assuming that you did not, in fact, wake up one day and decide to homeschool, but, instead, made this decision after much thought, prayer, research, and discussion with your spouse, your decision is not up for public debate. Even with your mother. Or your mother-in-law.
An answer for someone you love and care about can be as simple as, “I appreciate your love and concern for us, but we’ve made this decision after careful consideration and planning and with much prayer.”
An answer for a casual acquaintance or the lady behind you in line at the supermarket can be, “Thank you for your concern. That is something we’ve considered. So, what do you think about the weather we’ve been having?”
It’s not your job to make others agree with your parenting choices. Know when to pass the bean dip.
Be gracious. If people are asking legitimate questions and you have the time, answer them. Maybe they’re not questioning your decision; maybe they’re just curious. Weren’t you before you chose this lifestyle?
Give some consideration to how you’re going to answer the questions so that you’re not caught unprepared.
The most important thing to remember is that while those snappy little comebacks may sound fun, they can come off sounding snarky and that doesn’t speak well for homeschoolers as a whole and can negatively impact your Christian witness.