Tuesday's topic for the TOS Blog Cruise is how to handle criticism and concerns from friends and family members. I have to admit, I've been blessed in this area. I'm not sure all our family & friends actually agree with our decision, but most of them keep their negative opinions, if any, to themselves.
I think part of it is, by the time we got around to mentioning homeschooling they were so used to us doing "weird things" (cloth diapers, co-sleeping, etc) that they figured there was no point in trying to change our minds LOL.
So, we haven't had many problems with negative comments. But there have been a few.
In most cases, I find it best to just change the subject or otherwise "not engage". Remember how your mother used to tell you "it takes two to argue!" well it's true. If I just smile and nod and change the subject or walk away, no argument happens.
I also often use humor and/or stating the obvious. Those who are silly enough to ask me if I'm worried about socialization, get a rather incredulous look and a comment something like, "have you MET my children? I don't think I could handle having them be any MORE social!" (I generally avoid pointing out the incorrect use of the word socialization to mean social skills, some arguments just aren't worth it . . . ).
When I talk about WHY we homeschool I try to make sure to always word things in the positive. We didn't choose to "not send them to school" we chose to homeschool. Just as, when I choose strawberry ice cream, it's not a criticism of you for choosing chocolate ice cream, my choice to homeschool isn't a criticism of others' choice to send their children to school. While some people still choose to interpret it as criticism, it's less likely if I say things like "we enjoy the flexibility to travel throughout the year and visit lots of museums and historic sites during the off-season" rather than saying "we don't want our kids stuck in the classroom for 3/4 of the year". Beyond that, if someone chooses to read criticism into my making different choices, I consider it their problem, not mine, and pretty much ignore it.
And finally, a few of the things I DON'T say (because I prefer to not create hard feelings, and I know that it would) when I get criticism, but would like to. (If you're someone who feels we shouldn't be homeschooling and have voiced some of those feelings, or wanted to, you might want to stop reading now. If you choose to read this, and choose to take offense at it, well . . . that was YOUR choice.)
Ok, to those who ask me, in various ways, how I can possibly think I "know enough" to homeschool my kids, thank you SO much for calling me a complete idiot! My oldest children are SEVEN! If you think I learned so little in 16 years of school to teach seven year olds, well, for one thing, you don't have a very high opinion of MY SCHOOLS, so why would you think I should put my children in those same schools? And for another, you just called me STUPID. Thanks alot!
For those who are "horrified" that the state doesn't regulate every little detail of homeschooling to make sure it's exactly like "real school". Here's the thing, it is by far EASIER to just put your kids in public school and let the government educate them as they see fit. Those who choose not to do so generally are extremely committed to providing the best possible training and education for their children. Different people have different opinions on WHAT makes up a "good education" but bottom line is, homeschool parents are doing what they feel is best for their children! Will every homeschooled child turn out to be Thomas Edison (in case you didn't know this (*I* don't remember ever learning this tidbit in school), his teacher told his mother that he was a complete failure and would never amount to anything. His mother begged to differ and promptly pulled him out of school and homeschooled him, aren't we glad she didn't just take his teacher's word for it and let the school system spend the next however many years convincing him that he really was stupid?) NOPE, but then again, neither will every child in school.
Bottom line, most parents are doing their best to raise their children the way they feel is right. If you don't want me telling you how to raise your children (or telling you what you did wrong when you raised your children), don't tell me how to raise them.
But when dealing with family and friends, perhaps it's best if we all take Thumper's advice and "if you can't say something nice, don't say nuttin at all".