by Leslie Fobbs
Receiving opposition to homeschooling comes with the territory. Knowing this, it still hit me like a ton of bricks when I got a text message the other day.
The message was from a family member voicing their opinion on putting my son back into school for the next school year. They were concerned that he would be missing out on the life lessons and social aspects of being in the traditional school environment. Ha! Sound familiar?
I couldn't do anything but let out a long sigh and put the phone down because I didn’t even want to deal at the moment.
I could go on and on about the fallacies of the socialization myth for homeschoolers. As a matter of fact, I considered sending my family member this article I wrote last week about a kid who defies that myth. But I’ll leave that conversation for another post. What’s more important is taking time out to clearly think things through when challenge arises. Here’s how I handled the situation...
I thought about who the message was coming from.
I actually like this person. I know that my family member is just a parent concerned about my child that they’ve had some involvement with since he was born. I get it. The whole village thing is nice and I appreciate the thought. I just hope it works in reverse and I can tell them about their parenting.
I read the words and listened to the heart behind them.
Fortunately, I could tell their words were thought out, and there was no direct rudeness to them. It was pretty respectful for the most part. Overall though, I did consider the text to be a random intrusion in my day. I also know that as well-intentioned as they are, their concern is based in ignorance (of homeschooling) and a desire to control something they have no control over.
I actually considered what they were saying.
I thought about it for a good part of the day to decide if there was any validity to it. There wasn’t, but looking at it from their perspective I could at least say I understand where they are coming from. That's half the battle of any conflict, right?
I spoke to someone else about it to get outside perspective.
Maybe I didn’t choose the best person, because my husband, at one time, had the very same concerns. But, the great thing about him is that he knows how to think and advise objectively. He helped me to slow down, look at it from another angle, and he gave me a better way to respond than I was planning. I was going to go off on them and give all the research to prove why they were wrong. Not necessary. Who has time for all that anyway?
I remembered that I don’t owe them an explanation.
After all, he is my child, not theirs. I decided to ease their fears anyway by telling them why they shouldn’t be concerned (only because I like them). I listed all the things my son is involved in to say he is socialized just fine. He’s fine. Probably more fine than their public-schooled kids, but I’ll keep that to myself for now.
I used the constructive criticism sandwich.
It helps take the hot air out of any potential for a huge argument. My response wasn't a criticism, but I figured it would work all the same. Something positive followed by the negative, then another positive. I started out by saying how much I appreciate them in my child’s life and their concern. I gave the meat of why there is no need to be concerned as stated in the last point. Then, I ended it by reaffirming my appreciation for them as a person. (All true stuff, by the way.) Who can get ugly after that? If they do, then you have every reason to step away.
Responding to people who don’t agree with your homeschooling choices can be an uncomfortable situation. At least for me it is. But, it doesn’t have to end up in angry, back-and-forth insults.
At the end of the day, people feel some type of way about you NOT conforming to the norm like they are. Instead of considering stepping outside of the box for themselves they want to bring you back in! It’s ok though. Hear them out, respond kindly (or put them on the hot seat and see how they like it), and carry on.
Have you had anyone close to you, or even strangers, try to challenge your choice to homeschool your children? How did you handle it? I really want to know!