I first made the decision to homeschool my oldest thirteen years ago. My husband had several siblings who had homeschooled their kids and my decision didn’t raise any eyebrows on that side of the family. His family was supportive and encouraging and those who had homeschooled themselves were helpful and full of suggestions.
It therefore came as somewhat of a shock to me when my family was upset at my decision to homeschool. My parents and brother were convinced that I was going to ruin my children for life with this choice and they were very vocal in their opinions.
Don’t Get Defensive
I was hurt and was determined to change their minds. I armed myself with all kinds of statistics and studies. This only made them defensive and even more set in their position. We were at odds and for the first few years of my homeschooling I continued to try to prove them wrong, which only made them even more resistant to homeschooling.
In my conversations with them, I often brought up homeschooling in an attempt to prove to them that my children were learning enough, were being “socialized” and were having a good childhood. Bringing it up only gave them additional opportunities to express their negative views of homeschooling and left me feeling alone, judged and unsupported. I am embarrassed to admit that during that time, there were also moments when I asked my children to perform (answer questions, recite things they had memorized, recount field trip experiences, etc.) in order to try to prove to my family that I was doing a good job.
Somehow, I was able to wake up and realize that this decision to homeschool belonged to my husband and I alone and that it was not up to me to justify that decision to anyone or prove anything. I was able to thank my family for their concern but assert that this was the decision that we felt was right for our family at this time. This doesn’t mean that I was instantly able to let go of my insecurities but I was able to get to a place where I felt confident enough in my decision that I could stop sending them articles and could even stop bringing up homeschooling except in rare cases when something would naturally fall into conversation. This was so freeing for me!
Instead of looking to them for the support and encouragement I so desperately wanted, I looked to other homeschoolers, my husband and his family, close friends, and God.
The Proof Is In The Homeschool Pudding
I began to notice that now that I wasn’t bringing up homeschooling, neither were my family. After a few years, my mom even began to ask my kids about their field trips and knowledge or check on my blog if she had concerns about their learning instead of confronting me and me having to explain what we were doing. In recent years, I have overheard my mom defending my decision to homeschool to others, saying that what finally won her over was the undeniable proof that it was working in seeing how happy my kids are.
If you are in a circumstance where your family doesn’t support your homeschooling, I suggest kindly but firmly reminding them that although you appreciate that they love you enough to be concerned, this decision is one that you have prayerfully and thoughtfully arrived at and it is your decision to make.
After that, continue to do your best at homeschooling not in order to prove anything to them, but in order to raise your children well. Eventually, the proof will be in the pudding as they say. Your family will be able to see the benefits of homeschooling as they observe your children grow into confident, happy, helpful adults.