By Becky Ogden of Self Directed Homeschooler
OK, so your friends and family don’t have to turn cartwheels and throw confetti in their enthusiasm for your decision to homeschool your kids, but DARN…do they have to be so negative about it?
You’re already feeling a little anxious and overwhelmed.
Already wondering how you and your kids will make friends.
Already wondering how your kids will get into college.
Already wondering if you’re doing your kids a disservice and if you’re going to fail your kids.
What you’d really like is some support. Some encouragement. Some inkling from your friends and family that they believe in your ability to do a good job.
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Is that too much to ask?
For some of us, yes, unfortunately, it is too much to ask.
If your family and friends are supportive, count yourself lucky because lots aren’t.
When I started homeschooling in 2003, my parents thought I was crazy, and someone I was friends with at the time told me on an online message board forum we were both members of that she was “concerned” about the quality of education my son would receive from me.
Sometimes, your unsupportive family and friends will come around as they see your kids haven’t been ruined by homeschooling. The years have turned my mom and dad into huge supporters of homeschooling.
But what if they don’t? What do you do then?
Time for tough love here: You don’t do anything.
You can’t persuade people who do not want to be persuaded. If you’ve already stated your case and you’ve come up against a brick wall, you have to stop banging your head against that brick wall.
You Accept Reality
You’re not going to get their support, at least not now, and you still have to live your life anyway.
You Set Firm Boundaries
You’ve listened to them. You’ve heard them out. You’ve acknowledged them. You’ve thanked them for their concern.
Now you let them know, in no uncertain terms, that these are your children. You get to make the parenting decisions. And this one is made. It’s not open for discussion anymore.
Then stick to it. Every time. Politely, at first. More firmly later on if they don’t take the hint.
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You Follow Through When Your Boundaries Are Trampled On
I ended the friendship with the person who chose to use a public message board forum to voice her “concerns” about me homeschooling my son. It was a painful thing to do because we’d been friends for years. We’d celebrated each other’s marriages and the births of four kids between us, together.
But it still needed to be done – for my sanity. I couldn’t have such a negative influence in my life at a time when I needed the support of my family and friends.
Sometimes ending the relationship isn’t an easy option, though, because of the position of the unsupportive family member or friend in your life. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it as a first course of action. However, it’s a tool in your toolbox. Don’t be afraid to use it if you have to in order to protect your homeschool.
You Hold Onto Your “Why”
The truth is that you don’t need permission from your family and friends in order to homeschool successfully.
You need a deep conviction within yourself that homeschooling is the right thing to do for you and your family, or you will not be able to withstand the criticism from other people.
My own deep conviction that homeschooling is the right thing to do for me and my family stems largely from what I believe about what makes a great education. It’s incompatible with public or private schooling.
My reasons may well be different than yours, and that’s okay. The point is just that you need to articulate a personally meaningful, compelling reason for yourself that homeschooling is the right thing to do for you and your family. Someone else’s opinions about your life pale in comparison with your own convictions.
If you can’t find support from your family or existing friendships, it’s time to build some new friendships. Homeschooling is not something you want to do alone.
If you’re starting from scratch, do searches on Google and Facebook for homeschooling groups in your area. Join a couple, and jump right in. Introduce yourself and be upfront about your desire to make some new friends for yourself and your kids. Most homeschoolers I know are very welcoming to newcomers.
If you already have some ties to the homeschooling community in your area, look for ways you can strengthen those ties. Host a “Mom’s Night In” at your house, or suggest meeting up at a coffee shop. Schedule a field trip and invite other homeschoolers to join you.
I host a weekly event at my house for my youngest daughter and her friends to watch a movie, have lunch, and swim in our pool. The ideas are limited only by your own imagination.
Create Your Homeschooling Support
Once you’ve created a solid support system of your own, it won’t matter so much whether your family and other friends are turning cartwheels and throwing confetti.
You’ll be less anxious and overwhelmed in general, and their negativity won’t sting quite so much.