The holidays are upon us, and homeschool moms everywhere are girding their loins in preparation for the avalanche of questioning they will encounter.
However, I’m here to tell you dear homeschooling mom; it’s really not about you and your decision to homeschool. I know that seems illogical, it’s what everyone wants to talk about! Why would you homeschool? What about high school? Don’t you worry about socialization? What about prom!!!
You choosing to homeschool isn’t the issue. There are many issues, but the easiest way to make everyone feel comfortable and good about themselves is to criticize homeschooling.
So What Is It?
So what is the real issue? I know homeschoolers love to say that the naysayers are just really concerned about your children, worried that they will be “weird” or not be able to make it in the “real world.”
However, many of their “concerns” come from the very indoctrination they’ve experienced. Of course, children must go to school, or they’ll be completely ignorant, right? How can they learn without an accredited professional? If not forced to do meaningless, monotonous tasks, how will they become a successful adult?
Their concerns are based on what they’ve been told over and over again about learning and children, not based on human nature. It’s based on our societal belief that children must be institutionalized and the conclusions that have been drawn under those circumstances. Do we as a society even know how to relate to a child that isn’t institutionalized?
When it gets right down to it, these concerns come from a place of just not being open to any other way. What is even more puzzling is how offended some people become when they learn you homeschool. Why do they take it so personally?
Challenging the Status Quo
I think many people are annoyed that you’re challenging the status quo which makes them uncomfortable. Who are you to rock the boat? Why would you think that you can make better decisions for your family that the “system”?
As a society, we have invested so much time, resources, and cultural capital into creating a compulsory education system, why would you question it? Just who do you think you are?
We’re a culture that prizes conformity, we all want to belong. Even non-conformists seem to fall within a particular sub-group that has their checklist of required characteristics to become a member. It may surprise some people, but we know there are numerous groups even within the small homeschooling population that have certain requirements to meet for inclusion.
However, homeschoolers are still such a small group that our mere presence seems to be cause for great concern. We can’t just have everyone making decisions about their own lives, can we?
It’s Not You, It’s Me
How do you deal then with people that react as if you homeschooling is equivalent to passing judgment on them? There have been times that someone’s reaction is so emotional that I have a hard time making sense of it. Why do they feel as if my decision to homeschool is all about them?
I have no idea, but in those situations, it’s best not to take it personally and realize that this reaction isn’t about you or homeschooling, it may be something so deep they can’t even identify the source. If they can focus on your 9-year-olds ability to recite the 12 times table they don’t have to question their visceral reaction to someone making a different choice. They can continue to believe there isn’t a choice.
You Might Be Right
When you cut through all the talking points and tired concerns about socialization and high school, I think the real concern people have is that you just might be right.
They know the tyranny of a school schedule, unexcused absences, endless testing, wasted time, and its impact on their family, but they just aren’t able to consider an alternative. I’m not discounting those families that don’t have a viable option, but there are so many that could homeschool but for whatever reason do not.
They talk about not having the patience to homeschool or how they don’t think they’re knowledgeable enough, but these are straw man arguments. I’m not very patient, and no teacher knows everything a child could want to know. So what is the real concern?
Here are a few that come to mind:
- Homeschool is seen as taking on a huge responsibility and, quite frankly, it would be easier to blame someone else for any shortcomings.
- It has a personal cost, and I think this is a huge factor. I rarely get to have lunch with friends, go to the gym in the middle of the day, or have my entire house clean. Not everyone is willing to give up these perks of adulthood.
- They think that it requires sitting around a table six or more hours a day and who wants to do that?
Just Smile and Take a Deep Breath
So when the talk turns from football to homeschooling, just smile and take a deep breath. You might feel judged, but realize that their unnatural concern over diagramming sentences and the legality of homeschooling says more about them than you.
It also helps to remember that at the end of the day, homeschooling is your decision, you don’t have to justify it to anyone.
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