View Full Version : Dreading breaking what I believe should be good news

07-17-2011, 01:39 AM
O.K. so here is the scenario. I have been putting off letting my mother know that I will be homeschooling my son because I already know that her reaction will not be positive. She really liked the school we had him in last year in part due to the fact that it was a Catholic school. (She's quite religious)

I did not want to ruin a big trip that she and my father were going on and if I had told her before she would have harped on it the whole time. I have been hinting at the fact for the last few weeks and they will be heading back this way soon. Basically I am getting ready to drop the "Nuke" as my brother has been calling it. Any suggestions as to how I might soften the blow or survive the shockwave would be greatly appreciated.:confused:

Stella M
07-17-2011, 03:11 AM
Tell her in a public place; cafe etc. Then, when she is telling you for the 100th time that child will suffer from your poor choice, look at watch and say "Is that the time ? Oh gosh, please excuse us, we have to be at a very important appointment in 10 minutes. Thanks for your concern, I knew you'd support us." and leave.

Also, is it possible to soften the blow for your mother by allowing your ds to attend Mass with her sometimes etc ? My MIL is absolutely freakishly religious and I 'let' her give the kids holy cards and pray over them etc because it makes her happy and it's pretty harmless as these things go. I explain to the kids that it's part of their cultural heritage, even if it isn't part of our beliefs.

Just get used to passing the bean dip. It gets easier; most semi-reasonable people can see, as time goes on, that the child is thriving and learning and it allays some of their concerns.

07-17-2011, 04:01 AM
Melissa's suggestions are great. Also, if you can say anything that might make her think you're homeschooling for reasons that she might appreciate - maybe not religious reasons, but maybe something along the lines of how homeschooling will protect your son from "certain" influences - then she might be a bit more tolerant. Don't lie, of course! You shouldn't have to do that, and of course if she argues that there's always the private school, you can always point out the expense or hassle of it.

Some people are always skeptical and don't understand homeschooling. Others do relax about it over time, even if they still make the occasional, "So when are you going to put him in school?" comment.

07-17-2011, 08:29 AM
You've gotten good suggestions. I think the key thing is to be prepared and keep your cool, but don't go into it with the expectation that the conversation will go nuclear, as you say. That sort of expectation has a way of fulfilling itself, ya know?

07-17-2011, 08:53 AM
How about having her son break the news that your family will be homeschooling? ;-) That's the way it went down in our house. I insisted. And I agree with playing up the politics of the situation -- if there's an angle you can use like "protecting" the kids that will make it go down easier than by all means use it!

07-17-2011, 11:04 AM
The way I have told people is along the lines of "We are giving homeschooling a try next year." It sounds like it is almost a tryout, not something that you will be commited to for the long haul. It might soften the blow if she just thinks you are giving it a try just for a limited time.

My Mom was really OK with it, but she does say things like, "You can put them back anytime, right?"

Just remember that you are doing what you feel is best for your child. Sometimes things like this have been hard for me as well, but I remember that its abut my family and while her input can be considered, its ultimately my decision. I have had to let lots of things roll off my back over the years because I know, as she puts it, "Well, I wouldn't do that." In the end its, not really important whether my Mom would do it or not, its my choice.

07-17-2011, 11:35 AM
Thank you all for the great suggestions! :) I am still worried about her reaction she is a bit high strung and prone to extended outbursts but I feel a little better now. I can definitely work several angles in terms of the methods they were using there, his difficulty with the teacher (she is moving up to the next grade so he would have had her again this year) and the cost. Plus one of his best friends from the school is also going to be home schooled this year so that might help since we are planning to set up some playdates and other activities for the two of them.

The church suggestion may be an option but of course I have to discuss that with the other half. We have settled on teaching him more extensively about Buddhism and that might help concerns she may have about his spiritual development. For some reason she likes Buddhism more than paganism (lol go figure) maybe she will be more alright with this than I am expecting but you are all definitely right I need to be prepared and I need to be calm. When people disagree with her she tends to try to work them up into a frenzy with her. I must avoid the frenzy if at all possible.
jessica14 your suggestion about wording will be used, I think it will make her feel better and I don't want her to look at this negatively. Maybe if I explain to her that he could go down to Louisiana and visit her an extra time or two that might help as well. Man I got to write this stuff down...thank you all so much!

Accidental Homeschooler
07-17-2011, 12:09 PM
Maybe if I explain to her that he could go down to Louisiana and visit her an extra time or two that might help as well. Man I got to write this stuff down...thank you all so much!

This did soften the blow somewhat for my in-laws. I talked to my mom over the phone. I don't think she agrees with our decision but it is nice that she basically trusts us to figure out what is best for our own kids. Some parents just can't let go and trust their grown children.

07-17-2011, 03:18 PM
How about having her son break the news that your family will be homeschooling? ;-) That's the way it went down in our house. I insisted. And I agree with playing up the politics of the situation -- if there's an angle you can use like "protecting" the kids that will make it go down easier than by all means use it!

The only problem with having the child tell them is that if the grandparent decides to start saying all kinds of negative things it really puts the kid on the spot and could crush their excitement. I think I would make this an adult only conversation and explain to grandma that nothing negative is to be said to the kids.

I really like a lot of Melissa's ideas. Public places are always best for handing out news that may not be accepted well. You may want to preface the conversation with something like "I'm going to give you some news. I'm not sure how you will feel about this so I'd appreciate it if you would hear everything I have to say and then consider it before reacting." That may not work but it may slow her down a bit.

Good luck!

07-17-2011, 03:57 PM
Oh, Alice, you've got me wrong, by "her son" I meant MamaMia's husband. Since it's HIS mother that might be the one taking issue. I made my husband tell his parents of our decision.

07-17-2011, 03:59 PM
You have gotten some great advice and I don't know that I have much to add other than my hopes that you have an experience similar to mine. My mother is pretty controlling by personality and she doesn't like when anyone makes a final decision without her input and she also doesn't like when things go against the status quo. I put off even hinting at our homeschooling for quite some time and then I dropped the bomb. I also *immediately* went into the reasons giving examples of things the schools had done (or not done) that upset us before she had a chance to jump in. I am not certain that she is OK with it but she was diffused before she really got started and she agreed with my concerns. I will say that it hopefully will go more smoothly if you can show that you have done the research and have a plan.

Good luck to you!

07-17-2011, 11:31 PM
Oh, Alice, you've got me wrong, by "her son" I meant MamaMia's husband. Since it's HIS mother that might be the one taking issue. I made my husband tell his parents of our decision.

Oh!! That makes much more sense. I totally agree with that, let him deal with it, lol!!

07-17-2011, 11:47 PM
Unfortunately it is my mom...I wish it were his but this is my situation to diffuse.

Stella M
07-17-2011, 11:47 PM
I think it's mamamia's mother!

Not putting the whole plan in front of them can work. "We're just going to try it for a few months and see how it goes." even if you're pretty sure it will be a year or longer.

Or give them bragging rights - " Ds just isn't getting enough academic stimulation at school". That's something positive they can turn around and tell their friends.

Or just really give yourself over to her objections, responding with non-committal 'Hmms' or 'right' or 'uh-huh' till she runs out of steam. Most people just want to be heard; if you don't defend your position there'll be nothing to fuel her up.

Good luck, I was so scared when I told my parents - not my mum so much but my dad - he went really pale and I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He's come round since :)

07-18-2011, 07:32 AM
Oops, I could have sworn I read mother in law...maybe I was projecting my own issues onto yours as my MIL arrived that day. SO sorry. My own mother, while she didn't outwardly oppose my decision to homeschool, was extremely worried about me surviving it. It was all over her face when we talked about it and still even now. Research and plan help. It's such unknown territory for most people, and it's very rebellious too in a way. I hope it goes well for you. I still think trying to find something for her to relate to, even if it's only part of the puzzle, is the best way to try and get through to her. Some people will never be very supportive but you definitely don't want people working against you. Best of luck!

07-18-2011, 08:28 AM
My dad, whom is also VERY Catholic, flipped out when I told him we were pulling our girls out of Catholic school to home school four years ago. It was painful at the time, as he ranted about the damage we were going to do to the kids, but I knew that his underlying concerns were more about what others (the general public who may know him) would think about our decision.

He said some pretty hurtful things that came from his own fears, and that was that. We have not only survived but thrived in our little home school world. The proof is in the puddin'. ;) He has come around and even buys Chemistry kits and things for the girls (he has a degree in Chemistry) and told me how colleges are looking for home schooled kids. It has been a growing experience for him and us.

Just try to keep in mind that the responses come from fear of the unknown. And, as others have said, keep your cool. All you can do is put it out there, you've done your homework, and you know what is best for you and your family. Let us know how it goes.

07-18-2011, 09:09 AM
I commented on FB with a few suggestions and wrote a Blog Post with some links that I thought would help http://scikid3.blogspot.com/2011/07/telling-family-youre-homeschooling.html Here's the response on the FB thread: I would have my plan firmly in place first. Look up some of the co-ops in the area to tell them about, read some articles and watch some videos about being around kids and adults with many interests and backgrounds being better for him/her than being grouped with kids your own age who come from the same neighborhood. Have some exciting field trips and activities you want to do ready to talk about. Look up the percentage of kids that DON'T finish high school in your district as extra ammunition (this almost always works) and the National Statistics. Know what place we are in worldwide in science and math (we're behind some developing countries). And flattery works wonders! Ask them if they would be willing to lend their expertise (whether it's their job, hobbies, interests, college major to teaching your child some time!

07-18-2011, 09:18 AM
As someone who just had a horrid experience telling my mil about my decision to home school, I just wanted to say good luck. I doubt your conversation will go as badly as mine did. Possibly you could print out some articles about how home schooling is becoming much more main stream and info about a home school group that you have joined (or will join or could join) and how your children will have plenty to keep them busy and socialized. If you know what her objections are going to be you can be armed with info to help her deal with it. My own situation was that no matter what info I gave her she had ridiculous answers. Sadly, it is going to change the relationship she has with me and my children.

07-18-2011, 09:41 AM
The suggestion that there will be more visits is excellent. My Mom is definately looking forward to all the NYC trips to museums we are now going to take! We will also be able to stop by more often which I think Momand Dad will like!

SueEllen Grieves-Curl
07-18-2011, 02:15 PM
Just be honest with her and tell her. Frankly this is your child (not hers) and as his mother you are doing what you feel is in his best interest. You welcome her opinion as everyone has one. But in the end you and your husband will be the ones making any decision. hiding this from her is not a good idea and she needs to hear it from you rather than anyone else. You can show her that he is learning and making progress. Lets face it if you were not doing what is best for him you would not even consider HS.

07-18-2011, 02:34 PM
I'm a little nervous about the MIL thing too. My husband is going to do it. I don't think she'll be angry or anything, but she's extremely opinionated and I would imagine she'll be in our face with all of the socialization arguments. Although, who knows. She does surprise me sometimes. I can hope that she's maybe read an article or two that's HS-positive and backs me up. Or she might end up doing some research and coming around. That's how it was with nursing. At first she thought it was so weird and iffy that I was nursing past 6 months, and then when dd was 15 months old she started making comments and stuff. Trying to be delicate about it, but she was clearly uncomfortable. Then with my younger daughter, when she was born she said, "So are you planning to nurse this one for a few years too? I've read about how great it is for their immune system," etc. It was nice, really, although it brought back some of the annoyance I had felt the first time around.

07-20-2011, 12:28 PM
Eileen, maybe she was trying to make amends for her previous behavior? Sometimes people have a hard time admitting they were wrong right out - especially if they made horses rears of themselves at the time.

Hoping we get some good news on this front from everyone! :D

07-28-2011, 01:29 PM
My MIL was very supportive, fortunately. My parents were...um...careful about what they said. My feeling was, they didn't want to voice their fears too loudly, for fear of ticking me off, but I could tell they had some reservations. Over the years, they have been more and more positive. It helped that my brother started hs-ing his daughter in middle school.

I think the most important thing to remember when breaking the news is that they will have lots of fears and concerns that may seem ridiculous and irrelevant to *you*, but that are very real and scary to *them*. It's better to acknowledge those concerns as valid, rather than discount them.

For example, although any homeschooler knows that socialization is a complete non-issue, it's better to say something like, "Yes, we are aware of the issue, here's our plan..." or something like that. It doesn't really matter, they just want to be heard. In time, they will realize that is is not a big deal, after all.

I have always been careful to say that I plan to hs "as long as it works for us." *I* know that I have no real intention of doing anything else, but who knows what's around the corner, and I helps them to know that I am not "being stubborn" about it.

Thing is, there are just as many--probably lots more--valid concerns involving public and private schools. It's just that they are so mainstream, people have gotten used to them and have forgotten about the many negatives. Or, they have been convinced by their local school board that their concerns are no big deal.

(Hopefully) over time, the initial, knee-jerk fears will subside. They will talk to friends, acquaintances, and perfect strangers about hs-ing. They will read articles and news stories about it. On their own, they will learn more, and find out for themselves that it's not such a bad thing. At least, that's how it happened for me.

07-28-2011, 02:55 PM
If they do hop on the train to crazy town...rather than debate the merits of hs-ing or get into the position of defending your decision, consider saying flat out, "We are INFORMING you of our decision to homeschool, not asking your opinion. You do not get a vote. Be careful not to say things you'll regret and can't take back. If, after thinking about it, you have questions, we can talk then." And shut. it. down. Move to a new topic.

If people don't see it coming they might say stupid things they wouldn't normally say. If you know you'll have trouble forgetting/forgiving stupid remarks, give them fair warning they are entering dangerous territory. Sticking their foot in their mouths may be unavoidable, but I think it's ok to help them not shove their own foot all the way down their own throats. ;)

[ETA: obviously approach will depend on your personality and theirs. Sometimes deflection is ideal, sometimes tuning them out, sometimes confronting it head on. My MIL is VERY aggressive and demanding with NO boundaries...push-push-push...so you either stand up for yourself or get steamrolled. I also know what bugs me, and I have a hard time getting over feeling attacked, so I rather calmly say, "I feel like you are attacking me and my decision and that is not acceptable to me." which has an amazing tendency to diffuse a situation, than just "take it" and hold a grudge. LOL ]

07-28-2011, 05:44 PM
When we pulled our son from school our intentions to homeschool were temporary to just finish out the school year. I was looking for another school for the highly gifted and was coming up empty, unbenounced to me, my hubby (who is VERY catholic) was checking out only catholic schools. When I found this out, I gave a lot of thought to continuing to homeschool our son, I'd hs our daughter, so it wasn't a new game but he is a TOTALLY different child in sooooo many ways. Then I beat hubby to the punch, I announced that I would continue to homeschool sonny through elementary and possible through middle and high school and followed with a list of benefits. He just stammered and said that he had an interview set up with a school (he omitted that it was a catholic school). I told him to cancel it because we wouldn't be needing it and that our search for a school was over. I kind of bulldozed him on this but he let me too. He's glad I did.

08-06-2011, 03:39 PM
Well I had planned on breaking the news over coffee but my boy just dropped it on her in the middle of conversation. It went surprisingly well initially (due in no small part to the fact that she had spent the two days prior to it arguing profusely with my brother over something totally unrelated) she didn't do as much yelling as I expected but gave me a lot of nasty looks as if I had just admitted to some heinous crime. A few days later (after she had some time to build some energy back up) she decided to shriek the way I had previously expected. She informed me of how much of a disappointment I am and that my son will amount to nothing if I didn't send him back to Catholic school, then she went on to suggest that sending him to the local public school would be preferable to homeschooling him. Needless to say I am trying to limit my contact with her, He is really excited about homeschooling and I am worried she is going to sour him on it. I caught her trying to do so a few days ago. On a much brighter note my grandmother and aunt both think this is an absolutely wonderful idea. So I guess you win some and you lose some. She may come around eventually but she is very much a my way or the highway type of person so I am not holding my breath.

08-06-2011, 06:01 PM
I'm sorry your mom decided to live DOWN to your expectations. I think you are wise to limit her contact with your son. You are probably correct that she'd try to sour him on homeschooling. Honestly, if my mom (or MIL) tried to talk to me like that they'd be hearing a lot of dial tones, and wouldn't be welcome in my home. I probably also would have pointed out calmly that she was a major disappointment to ME. :p

Families are often big on love and short on respect, but if a behavior would be considered abusive from a stranger it's WORSE not more tolerable coming from family.

Who knows, maybe when she realizes no one gives a darn about her opinions on the matter and her access to you and ds are gone, she might decide to move on to the next drama. I assume she needs someone to complain about your brother to! :D

Again, sorry your mom is disappointing you. Focus on your great ds and trust you are doing the best for him. Glad to hear your gam and aunt are so supportive!

08-06-2011, 07:13 PM
I am sorry it did not go well. I remember when I had to tell my mother. I was dreading it because she had made comments in the past that were less then supportive. I actually did not tell her until we were 2 weeks into it. Much to my surprise my mother has been my biggest supporter. Hopefully your mom will come around as she the results of what you are doing.

Stella M
08-06-2011, 07:42 PM
I'm sorry your mom was difficult. I hope she comes round. Maybe when she sees how well your son will do...sigh...it's hard. Take care.

08-06-2011, 07:50 PM
I'm late to the conversation but I feel bad your MIL went down to your lower expectations. That bites. Mine was happy about the change BUT she still has not and probably will NEVER get the idea through her head that I do not homeschool for religious reasons! She daily sends me another little tidbit about this or that christian homeschool website or curriculum I should check out. I've told her over and over and she doesn't hear me.

I'm catholic and while my beliefs are important to me my DH and I decided a long time ago that my DD can choose her own. Yes she was baptized and yes she made her first communion but the rest is up to her.

I would limit contact at least until you get into a groove where it won't matter what she says to your DS about it. My DD just smiles and nods when her grandmother talks about religion and she humors her to a point. My family has no real care about what we're doing - my parents have long passed and my siblings don't much care though they think it's a cool thing and do have questions but not much judgement with the exception of how I'm am I still reasonably sane.

Lots of deep breathes and remember this too shall pass!

08-11-2011, 07:30 PM
I'm sorry you had such a terrible response. I would also limit contact and hope she eases up a bit in the future. Luckily, my DH had the discussion with his father and we're preparing for all of the questions/suggestions when we go to stay with them next month.

08-12-2011, 01:01 AM
What an awful response. :( Limited contact will hopefully give you guys the distance you need. I basically don't speak to my mom (not related to homeschool) and it's probably for the best for both our sanity. Sometimes the family you make way outshines the family you are born into.

08-12-2011, 01:24 AM
I'm so sorry to hear that things didn't go well. Hopefully she will come around in time. Remember that this is all new to her, even though you have probably been thinking / researching for awhile now. When she sees that her grandson is still the great kid he currently is, I think she will start to feel okay with it (hopefully!). I'm glad you have other family members that are supportive!

Accidental Homeschooler
08-12-2011, 01:29 PM
Sorry MamaMia! We have been there and it sucks. Even though I did not have high hopes, it would have been nice if family surprised us and shown some faith in our ability to make good decisions for our kids. Hope dies hard sometimes. It has gotten better and that took about five months. Those who disapproved still do, but they do it silently now (a big improvement).

08-13-2011, 12:29 PM
Show her the materials you will be using a sell it as a better education and if home schooling does not work out for you he is not ousted from the public or private school system for life. Home schooling is not a terminal disease just a new way of educating and raising YOUR child. Show her the facts about how fast home schooling is becoming a chosen option world wide.