When a Homeschooling Mama Meets a Mama Who Doesn’t

Have you ever felt like you made someone feel self-conscious by simply existing? This was a phenomenon I noticed soon after we made the decision to homeschool. It seemed that with many people all I had to do to intimidate them was simply to say the words, “We homeschool.” Immediately they became defensive. Often they revealed their insecurities.

“I could never do that!”

“My kids would never listen to me if I tried to teach them.”

“Could I hire you to homeschool mine, too?”

Those are almost direct quotes of things people have said to me. You have probably heard them, too.

Sometimes people simply try to connect and relate.

“There’s a lot of that now.”

“Our pastor’s family homeschools.”

“The schools aren’t very good where my friend lives so they are going to try homeschooling their third grader.”

Sometimes people are questioning or outright oppositional.

“I’ve always thought we should support our local schools.”

“How do you know they are learning what they need to know?”

“Why do you think you can do a better job than trained professionals?”

I have often wondered why people think it’s okay to voice their opinions about something you have decided about the children God has given you. What if the roles were reversed? What if you went on the offensive and other mamas were in the role of explaining. Let’s pretend you have just met Susan.

Susan: Hi, my children go to Walla Walla Elementary.

You: I could never do that . . . or . . . my kids would never listen to a teacher who wasn’t their mother . . . or . . . could I hire you to drive my kids to public school?

Let’s try that again.

Susan: My children go to Walla Walla Elementary.

You: There’s a lot of that now . . . or . . . our pastor’s children go to public school . . . or . . . my friend wasn’t very good at homeschooling so she sent her child to public school.”

One more time.

Susan: Hi, my children go to Walla Walla Elementary.

You: I’ve always thought we should teach our children at home . . . or . . . how do you know they are learning what they need to know . . . or . . . why do you think a trained professional can do a better job than you?”

I understand that relatives feel a need to understand why you have decided to homeschool, and I believe they should be given kind and respectful reassurance. However, I am sorry that strangers sometimes believe they have the right to question, challenge, and criticize you. That’s just plain ol’ bad manners, in my opinion.

Fall Morning 002

So this fall, when the school questions come up even more than the rest of the year, I encourage you to do everything you do with your children in keeping with your convictions before God. Do that and then when people challenge you, remember the example of Jesus. Only in Him can you have the confidence to do what is right, in spite of the discouragement of other people.

. . . while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
while suffering, He uttered no threats,
but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously . . . 
1 Peter 2:23

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27 thoughts on “When a Homeschooling Mama Meets a Mama Who Doesn’t

  1. Thank you!
    However, unfortunately it is family members who are so oppositional and I just need a respectful “one liner” to stop the continued criticism and never ending questioning, “When is he going to REAL school?” Or “Still homeschooling?”
    Naturally, you want to scream, “Have
    you seen the public system and what children his age are doing today?” I know that is nothing I can actual say. I just ask for prayers and say this is God led and what we feel is best for our son.

  2. Wow, Charlene what well said words. I used to get defensive when people would criticize homeschooling. I used to laugh, however, when the conversation went like this. “where do your children go to school”? “We homeschool” “OH” not a surprise OH but OH, with their nose in the air. Or they would then try to give my child a math problem or something. Now it does not bother me. I guess after 11 years of homeschooling, I am confident I am doing what God wants me to do no matter how much I am unqualified, no matter how frustrated I get, no matter anything. God is in control not me. Praise the Lord for that. by the way, you are really looking good!!!

  3. Lol!!! That’s hysterical!! I never thought about it that way. I usually just smile and say I want my children to have a Christian education. That usually satisfies them. We are to show God’s love ESPECIALLY to those who oppose us. I pray that my family can be bold in Christ and shine His light to draw others to Him.

  4. Ha ha, this is great!! I’ve heard all that too, including, “what? do you think your kids are too good to go to Walla Walla school?” . I’ve got 1 family member (she married into the family so she wasn’t around when we started home schooling 16 years ago) who said nothing to my face about me home schooling but told my (grown and home school graduated) daughter, “I think it oughta be against the law to home school. Everyone I’ve seen come out of THOSE situations is stupid and lazy.” She is also a public school teacher, by the way. The gall…..and like my home schooled daughter was too stupid to catch the absolute slap in the face that comment was!! After my initial fury (I can’t help it, I’m just human like that) I had to just thank God that home schooling is a freedom in this country and that He called me to spend my days, every day, with my children, raising them and being with them. What a wonderful life I’ve had!

    • Gall is the exact word for the way your relative treated your daughter! I still marvel at the audacity of people who feel a right to say anything they please about homeschooling. How precious for you and your family that you did have this freedom and that you took advantage of it.

  5. My comment is a little late but I just wanted to say thank you for the gracious way that you discussed this issue. I have to admit that I have reacted badly to people’s negativity regarding homeschooling in past situations. I sometimes wonder why I seem to encounter so many nasty comments or opinions. It is a personal insult and you are right, it is rude. I’m thankful to God for reminding me that I am to walk in love even when my feelings are hurt or I am offended.

    • Years ago when one of my friends experienced some homeschooling criticism from a stranger who stated, “I could never do that!” She replied, “I’m sure you couldn’t.” That stopped the stranger from any further comments! My friend is pretty bold and I commend her for being strong. Albeit not very loving words, but she simply agreed with the stranger’s comment!

  6. Thank you for this reminder! We have family that is opposed to us homeschooling. However, they don’t say anything to our faces anymore. They have seen us lovingly stand firm to our convictions. This article is spot on.

  7. I lost a friend of 11 years due to this phenomenon. She works in the public school system and initially was very supportive of our decision to home-school, commenting that she wished that she could do it but believed that people had a special calling on their lives if they homeschool… haha. Over a period of about two years her attitude changed to become more critical and she began bringing up negative stories about homeschooling or homeschoolers that she knew. She began to relate all of my children’s behavioral struggles (as close friends we always shared any challenges that came up and offered each other advice or would just commiserate) to the fact that we homeschool. It culminated one day in her becoming physically aggressive towards my son when she did not feel his behavior was appropriate. She pinned him to the floor and held him down, later telling me that this was what she had training for because she works in the public school where sometimes physical restraint was necessary. The circumstances did not call for physical restraint whatsoever! She then later changed the story to make my son sounds more culpable and also minimize her actions. Obviously there was more going on with my friend and then simply a disagreement with homeschooling, but I do believe that our differences in education choices contributed to her frustration and feeling somehow judged by me in some manner or defensive. It was a very sad experience for us all.

    • Oh, Laura, I am so sorry that this happened to you. I believe that negative attitudes toward homeschoolers are often based in things the other person is experiencing in her own heart.

  8. I was in a Sam’s Club here in Atlanta a few months back and- without talking to me- a woman asked my 9 year old, “aren’t you supposed to be in school?” My 9 year old looked at her and replied, “it’s complicated.”
    I was a table away from my girls, looking at books, and did not even know about this conversation until after the fact, but I wish I could have seen the woman’s face!
    It is amazing when people try to insert themselves into your personal life. In the car driving home I thought of all the one-liners I would have said to her, had I heard her ask the question. But none of those replies were very loving. I’m thankful for a forum where we can talk about this type of thing…. it’s all to easy to feel like you live on a island when you’re homeschooling!

  9. Hello:
    I am not sure if my comment would go under this topic but it is surely related . After 4 years I believe am finally confident in saying we homeschool and why we do it.
    The challenge I am facing now is at my Church Teen Group.
    Most of this teens attend public or charter schools, their ” interaction habits” are quite different from the interactions that I see among homeschoolers only.
    Specially when it comes to pushy or aggressive girls. My son is 13 and ( I don’t want to be presumptuous ) but he is growing to be a very tall and handsome man. I have come to realize that “worldly beauty” presents a higher challenge for those who have it, specially I the effort to grow chaste and pure.
    My problem started when at this teen group became very normal, within the spare time before or after the teachings, for the Teens to start conversations about who likes who, and the girls started ” naively navigating closer and closer to the boys, including mine”
    I felt very uncomfortable as I know this started to raise in my son temptation and “dating” desires, so I decided to take him out of the group with a lot of sadness as he really enjoyed the peer time there.

    Most of those teens have moms that are my friends and they got offended when they realized that I stepped away from that group as I thought it wasn’t being helpful for my son.
    They have told me I am secluding my son and that eventually he might get rebellious, they find it normal for them to start in the ” dating-chatting-and some times real dating at this age. We definitely are not supporting dating till later years.

    Unfortunately this is the Church community we have grown with and now we are being seen as ” Pharisees and on a way hypocrites for stepping out of the Church Groups and in their eyes considering them ” not good enough ”

    This hurts my heart greatly as this is my community , I have tried explaining my reasons on a one on one friend talks but they just do not understand and consider I am exaggerating and overprotecting my son and in a way handicapping him for future social interactions

    I even thought attending to a coming meeting to explain my view and possibly engaging more in the teen group to help them see and eradicate this behaviors among teens.
    I am not sure if this would help at all, they are all in a public school daily scenario where it us almost impossible that they realize, accept or fight for anything different.

    Could you please give me some opinions and support?

    I believe only a homeschooler understands this points of view

    Thank you , many blessings

    • You are not alone, Karla. This scenario has been repeated again and again. I am so sorry that you are experiencing it now. How very, very hard it is! Look for a private email soon. I may not answer until next week and this year’s homeschool play is over!