Monday, September 6, 2010

Blog Cruise: Unsupportive friends and family

Blog cruise time again this week!

"How do you respond to family/friends that don't support your decision to homeschool?" is the Blog Cruise question this week.

I have a really brief answer.  Pray.

Of course I have a longer one too.  I guess it seems to me that there are lots of types of people who "don't support" homeschooling.  And how I would respond really depends on the type of person.  The question addresses family and friends, so I'm not getting into the critical comments from the lady at the grocery store, or from acquaintances.

1) There are people who are genuinely unsupportive.  They make disparaging remarks to the kids, they tell you that you are too whatever to possibly teach your kids successfully, etc.  They don't want to hear anything you have to say about it, they refuse to hear anything anyone else has to say.  They probably second guess every decision you've ever made, not just the homeschooling ones.  I don't have family or friends like this, so I don't know what to say, other than what I did above:  pray.

2) There are people who just aren't familiar with homeschooling and have silly concerns.  But they love you and probably love the kids and your spouse.  They react as though you've gone off the deep end.  They want what is best, and something outside of their realm of experience looks scary.  They are the ones asking questions like "what about the Prom?" or "is it legal?"  It feels like they are being unsupportive, but they are really just looking for information and reassurance.  Answer their questions.  Depending on how close they are to you, factor in their concerns.  So what if Junior is only six?  Figure out if there is a homeschool group that puts on a formal dance and pass the information along.  Really, most of these questions boil down to:  are your kids going to be NORMAL, and will they be prepared for the real world when you are done with this? 

3) There are people who may or may not be familiar with homeschooling, but they are definitely familiar with you.  Weird, quirky, imperfect you.  Their questions and statements sound totally unsupportive as well.  But are they really?  Or are they just making you squirm by pointing out your flaws?
  • "We had to hire tutors to get you through geometry.  How in the world do you think you can teach geometry to my grandchildren?" 
  • "You are the most unorganized person I know.  Do you really think you can pull this off?"
  • "Oh, honey, this is the kids' education we're talking about... it's not like all those quilts/projects/whatever that we could just pack away when you got bored and wanted to try something else."
  • "But you can't possibly make it on one income!"
Here again, pray about it.  Really think about it.  Because chances are that there is a kernel of (uncomfortable) truth in what they are saying.  Does it mean you shouldn't homeschool?  Not necessarily.  But really... homeschooling is NOT easy, and I really don't think it is for everyone.  On the other hand, from what I've seen from friends, being a public school mom is NOT easy either, and that certainly is not for everyone.  (I know I would have an incredibly difficult time trying to force my kids to complete assignments that I see as busywork.  I struggle enough with assignments that I think have a point.)

One of the hardest aspects of homeschooling, I think, is that you are forced to really deal with your faults, your flaws, your sins... on a regular basis.  And you are forced to come face-to-face with all of that in your kids as well.  You know, one of the things I hear from people frequently is... "Oh, I just don't have the patience to homeschool."  Umm, newsflash!  Neither did I.  I'm developing it though.  I think.

The good news is that even those perfect looking magazine cover homeschooling families are dealing with plenty of faults and flaws as well.  There are many, many imperfect families out there successfully homeschooling.  You've found one on this blog.  Well, imperfect anyway.  I think we're fairly successful too, but I'm not quite as convinced of that part.

So, how do I respond to this type?  I try to figure out if they have a point.  That isn't fun.  I don't want to think about all those things that I don't do well.  I really don't want to think about how my selfishness is going to harm my kids.  But a reality check can be a good thing in the long run.  And maybe the critics are right.  Maybe homeschooling is not a good fit for you right now.

If you really are committed to homeschooling, you can come up with ways to deal with your particular issues.   Being human doesn't disqualify you from homeschooling. 

The TOS Crew Blog is sponsoring a question of the week every Tuesday.


Pebblekeeper ~ Angie said...

Wow. You need to submit this to be published! This is a perfect response to the comments we get. To helping us, the home teachers, what the questions mean. And that they arn't "mean". Thank you.

Laura O in AK said...

Having the spotlight shine on your own imperfections is definitely a 'benefit' from homeschooling many do not consider. I'm with you on the patience thing as well as not wanting a bunch of senseless busywork to help the kids do.

Deanna said...

Prayer is definitely the best response. One of the greatest surprises to me was the resistance I got from my immediate family.

I can make you doubt yourself and definitely face your own flaws on a regular basis. However, every day something new happens that helps me know that this is right for us right now.

Dawn said...

Great post! I can totally agree with this paragraph..."One of the hardest aspects of homeschooling, I think, is that you are forced to really deal with your faults, your flaws, your sins... on a regular basis. And you are forced to come face-to-face with all of that in your kids as well. You know, one of the things I hear from people frequently is... "Oh, I just don't have the patience to homeschool." Umm, newsflash! Neither did I. I'm developing it though. I think." Thanks for writing such a great response to this weeks blog cruise topic! And, of course, I agree that PRAYER is the first, last and in between thing...for everyone who is homeschooling, or considering homeschooling. There is NO DOUBT we canNOT do it w/o Him!

Tess said...

Another great post Debra. It is so hard sometimes to remember that what may feel unsupportive may just be ignorance. Good to be reminded of the different ways to look at the question!

Krissy said...

Wow!! Well put girl!! I'm sure this will be a source of encouragement for someone out there!!

Krissy said...

Wow! Super job putting just the right words in there! I'm sure that this "sticky subject" that you've covered so beautifully will be a help to someone!