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Homeschooling: Dealing with Doubting Relatives

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Homeschooling: Dealing with Doubting Relatives

By Linda Dobson

homeschoolingIt’s one thing to paint your house, only to have your mother-in-law stick up her nose and mutter something about nausea. It’s quite another to soul-search, decide that the very best thing you can do for your children is to create a new family lifestyle, then listen to her wail that you will ruin her grandbabies forever. Yes, many families and circles of friends contain one or more well-meaning persons who will question your reason skills. This isn’t really surprising.

Isn’t just about everyone you know and are related to the product of more than a decade of schooling? Doesn’t it make ssense that your decision to take a different approach for your children will be seen by some as criticism of their own upbringing? Some might even say, “Hey, I went through all that malarkey, and I turned out okay.” As tempting as it may be, this is not the time to inform Uncle Albert that you think you’ve pegged his personality disorder.

Homeschooling and Doubting Relatives

Instead smile, secure in the knowledge that no matter how miserable they are making your life today, your relatives and friends may sing a different tune with the passage of time and the actual reality of homeschooling, as opposed to reacting to their preconceived notions.

“Well-meaning relatives wondered if we weren’t depriving our children of opportunities to make friends, if homeschooling was legal, what kinds of textbooks we planned to use, if we would keep up with the public schools,” says Kristi Schrampfer. “I even had a family member tell me that we couldn’t possible teach the kids enough, since we weren’t experts in everything. (What teacher is?)”

Kristi realized familial concern was natural, “but it certainly was no help to me in dealing with my own self-doubts as we began homeschooling,” she explains. “At times I felt the need to defend our choice, but most often I simply adopted a wait-and-see attitude in response.”

The results? “As the years have passed and family members have seen the results of our efforts, much of the skepticism has given way to approval. Our confidence in homeschooling and what we’re doing has grown,” Kristi concludes.

See also “What Did You See When You Imagined a Homeschooling Family?

Laurie Meyerpeter’s relatives approved of homeschooling, but still questioned and expressed concerns, especially about socialization. “I found that it really did matter to me if these people approved, and their perception of homeschooling on this matter was not accurate,” Laurie says. “We sometimes had so much socialization that it was difficult to accomplish much.”

Laurie utilized her support network to quell concerns. “Our homeschooling co-op produced a Christmas play, and we invited the relatives. The play was a success, but the additional benefit was that the relatives got to see that there were dozens of homeschooling children in our area, and they seemed perfectly normal and not at all deprived,” she says. “I also sent them subscriptions to our co-op newsletter filled with children’s work. It helped them see homeschooling in a different light. My children liked to write about they were doing – sports, 4-H, music lessons, field trips, co-op activities, and more. That encouraged our relatives and showed them that homeschooling kids have busy and active lives.” Laurie reports that she is no longer as sensitive about the issue of socialization.

Homeschooling and Sensitivity

Once we grow more comfortable with homeschooling, many of us begin to admit that at the beginning we were probably just a teensy-weensy bit oversensitive about comments and questions on the subject. After all, it seems that friends and strangers alike suddenly turn into education experts at just the mention of the word, at just the time we harbor the deep doubts that accompany lack of experience. It’s good to remember that everybody isn’t necessarily out to get you because of your decision.

“I’ve had to learn that when someone questions our homeschooling, it may not be to criticize but rather to learn more,” says Lynn Foster. “I was so worried that the world was out to get us that I was always on the defensive about homeschooling, and that is a definite turnoff to those who support public schooling. The best way to convince others is to educate them and let them see the benefits homeschooling can bestow on a family.”

First Year of Homeschooling Your ChildFor much more information on successfully beginning a homeschooling journey, please see The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start by Linda Dobson.
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5 Responses to “Homeschooling: Dealing with Doubting Relatives”

  1. Belinda says:

    Very well written – thankyou.

  2. Tanya says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I was very encouraged by it. I recently had a conversation with a relative and after getting off the phone, needed something that reaffirmed by beliefs. This was just what I needed!

    • Tanya, you’re quite welcome. I think it helps to know that this has happened to others before us, and will continue to happen after us. So very glad you took the time to let me know it helped you! Keep on learning with joy, and I hope you visit Parent at the Helm often!

  3. Inspiration Mathematics | The Talk says:

    […] stay home and school them.  Here are some responses Learn how you can homeschool unschool and dealing with doubting relatives.  Some people will ask “but what about college and getting a job?  Wont I be unable to do […]

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