Defending Your Homeschool Gracefully: Dealing with Frustrating Questions
When you homeschool, you will inevitably come across people who appear to be nosy, interfering people who have nothing better to do than bombard you with opinions on what they think is best for you and your family. You will probably find yourself in the position of having to defend homeschooling and other choices you’ve made as a result of homeschooling (such as being a stay-at-home mother).
How to Answer When You Defend Homeschooling
Before getting all huffy when called upon to defend homeschooling to someone you, perhaps, dislike, think about their reason for questioning you.
If their reason revolves around a genuine confusion about homeschooling or inquiry about homeschooling, try to answer their questions in a loving way, being patient in all things.
I find that a surprising number of people ask out of genuine confusion due to common misperceptions about homeschooling they’ve heard parroted by other people or in the media (i.e. the socialization issue or academic questions). These days, the majority of people who call on me to defend homeschooling are easily convinced when I speak about its benefits and remain really positive in the conversation.
Don’t forget to be very patient with the people you’re talking with. Remember that they haven’t had all the influences you’ve had that has led you to your homeschooling journey. Conversely, many have had fantastic school experiences and wonder if homeschooling can really be better (this was the case with my husband). This is your opportunity to point out where it can be better, such as when:
- homeschooled teenagers often have wonderful relationships with parents and siblings as their family are their best friends,
- no political correctness is needed at home so you can teach what you want,
- you have flexibility so you can work when you want and play when you want, and
- you can travel overseas or do day excursions every day of the week.
On the other hand, if their reason is to attack you and you feel they have no intention of being persuaded by your answers, it may be worthwhile trying to turn the conversation elsewhere – maybe the weather.
However, if this line of attack comes up repeatedly, it’s worth engaging the attacker in questions and questioning their underlying assumptions.
For example, when asked:
Question: Don’t you think homeschooling is cruel?
Answer: What is cruel about homeschooling [and why would you think school beats homeschooling on any of these levels]?
Question: Don’t you think you should go back to work?
Answer: Don’t you think being a stay-at-home mom is work?
And yes, I’ve actually had both of these questions!
Defend Homeschooling But Preserve the Relationship!
You really don’t want to inflame the situation when you’re defending homeschooling because you want to preserve the relationship as far as you can with that person.
Some relationships are really important. For instance, a relationship with your mother or father-in-law is a relationship you want to nurture and build, rather than killing it with hostility and anger.
A soft word turns away anger, and this is what we should be aiming for.
I have been surprised at this in my own life. I’ve even had one lady who I really disliked at the time attack me for homeschooling. Years later, after plenty of soft words, we have found ourselves friends and my friend is now sold on homeschooling.
You give homeschool mums a good name when you do likewise.
Your Child’s Beautiful Character Will Speak Volumes
Your children’s actions will show what a great educational choice home education has been for your family. Their actions will show they are well behaved, generous, and loving children.
A great way to prove your point and silence your questioners is to point out that your children are better behaved than other children who are not homeschooled. This is most successfully done subtly as you don’t want to put down schoolchildren (that being the majority of school-aged children; furthermore, most parents are also products of school…).
This is also easily done if you can compare your children’s behavior now with what it was when they attended school (if they originally attended school).
I’ve also heard of many people being impressed by home educated children on the playground. When asked about their life, the children reply they are homeschoolers. The observer leaves the playground having a very positive perception of homeschoolers.
In cases where hostility is evident, it’s better to defend homeschooling by actions, rather than by words.
Why I’m So Gentle With People Who Attack Me
When I’m unfair to someone, I’d hate for them to treat me badly – indeed it would be a bonus if they treated me nicely, despite my poor performance. Unfortunately, I sometimes treat others and Christ badly, despite my best efforts. But, Christ loves me so much, even when I’m sinful. I’m grateful I have a personal relationship with him because of his sacrifice on the cross for me. Because of this, I try to treat others in a Christlike manner. I don’t always succeed – in fact, I may answer people politely and patiently at the time and then fume at them for the next hour when they’re not in sight, but that’s the gist of it. I love because I was loved by Christ first.