We aren’t even talking about homeschooling.
Did I go into defense mode for no reason? Are the critics getting to me? Clearly, I need an attitude adjustment.
It happens in the grocery store, the park and at family gatherings.
The critics speak. They ask questions. I consider nodding, smiling and pretending I don’t speak English. Then I consider showing off my sharp wit and throwing around obscure S.A.T. words they won’t understand.
I’ve considered putting together a full color brochure explaining that yes, homeschooling is legal and filling it with info-graphics detailing the success rates of homeschooled students in college. On the back I’d feature a list of amazingly successful people who never went to school.
I don’t mind answering questions when people are legitimately interested in how we live our lives, but sometimes the questions…irritate me. I want to reply with snide comments.
The Most Common Questions from Homeschooling Critics
- Do you take them out anywhere? You mean like, here?
- How do they make friends? They interrogate strangers in line at Target.
- Do they know how to take a test? Wrinkle nose, stare until they loose interest.
- How will they get into college? They’ll apply.
- Are you smart enough to homeschool? I’m a Jeopardy Grand Champion.
- Is there a book to help you? No. We’re just winging it.
My friend Kalena recently shared this conversation with a stranger:
Stranger: Are you a teacher?
Stranger:Then how can you be qualified or know what to teach them?
Kalena: *stunned silence* I’m sure I’ll figure it out.
Most of the time, the critics we face are uninformed and convinced that there is only one way to do things.
Knowing this helps me keep my cool.
When a critic has a question or snide comment for you, remember they are uninformed. We won’t use the word ignorant. That wouldn’t be kind.
They don’t know that your child was bullied to the point of threatening suicide and that bringing him home saved his life. They don’t know that your child’s academic (or social, or physical) needs were being ignored. And it’s likely that they don’t know about the negative effects of homework and high stakes standardized testing, or how school sucks the creativity right out of our children’s souls.
So we have a bunch of choices.
- Shoot a snarky remark at them to match their cynicism.
- Educate them right there in the grocery store.
- Carry a brochure explaining the facts.
- Carry a file full of articles to hand out. Tell them to do their reading and give you a call to discuss the topic like educated adults.
- Smile, nod and turn away.
There’s a time and a place for a snarky one-liner, but motherly discretion is advised.
Your kids are listening.
My kids don’t hear me when I say it’s time to clean up, but if I curse under my breath three rooms away from where they are listening to music with their ear-buds in place, they hear it.
I guess I’m properly motivated to change the snark to love. If I can assure a stranger or family member that our chosen path is right and good for us, my girls feel it. They trust. And isn’t developing a strong, loving and trusting relationship with our children our priority?
How can I answer the critics simply, with kindness and love (or at least NOT sarcasm)? How can I use these opportunities to set a good example for my little women?
My answer is a bit dismissive. It’s honest. This is what I would like to say with a breezy smile:
Thanks for your concern. It’s wonderful to know that you care about my child’s well being.
No one cares more deeply for my child than I do. No one is more motivated to ensure that they are well educated, socially adjusted and thoroughly equipped to take on the world as an adult.
This is how we have chosen to raise our children and we love it.
What do you think? How do you answer critics? And should I get to work on that brochure as a back-up?
Looking for more answers? See what other homeschooling moms have to say at the Answering the Homeschool Critics Link-Up.
Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. -Steve Jobs