View Full Version : How many times will I need to have this conversation?

08-09-2011, 09:20 AM
This is new to us, and I have thus far had one slightly annoying, one very annoying, and one perfectly nice conversation about our decision to homeschool my daughter.

The slightly annoying one was with my mom, who is supportive of it but she grilled me on what we were planning to do. She just retired from teaching, so my somewhat casual attitude didn't really sit well with her.

The very annoying one was with my husband's cousin's wife. She is a professor with two children around my kids' ages. I felt like she was somewhat defensive about my "reasons" for homeschooling (which, really, aren't anyone's business), because one of the reasons was my dd's giftedness, and of course her kids are both gifted. Not in the way or to the extent that my dd is, though, which of course I would never say to her. Also, her kids are easygoing and very sociable, unlike my daughter. Also, they are in a really great school district and we are in a mediocre one. So, you know, there are plenty of things I could have said, but they all sounded either rude or defensive. I tried to be as vague as I could. I wouldn't have minded having a conversation about it, but I wasn't interested in spending the whole time defending my decision to her. And in the end, her opinion doesn't matter, but I went home from that thinking, "Great. I'm going to have to have this conversation a million billion times in one form or the other, for as long as we're homeschooling." Sigh.

Oh, and the perfectly nice conversation was with some friends that we had over the other night. They were curious, but not defensive or critical at all. They have a kid who is gifted and quirky as well, and I think they could see the benefits pretty clearly. It was, I guess, how I expected most of these conversations would be. Naive, I suppose.

08-09-2011, 09:55 AM
I think as time goes by you're less likely to have these conversations. When we first started I felt like I was constantly defending or explaining myself but I can't remember the last time I had to do it.

08-09-2011, 09:59 AM
You will have these conversations a lot. I tend to prioritize as to who I tell what information to. Random person in public asking why my kids aren't in school? They don't need a huge run down, family members I will share more with, but if they get annoying I change the subject. In any situation I just respond based on how much time I have to waste and if I care what they think or if I'll be seeing them enough for them to annoy me. We've spent a good deal of time arguing our case to my in-laws and they seem to get it now. They still want us to "give the kids the option of public school". In the end though it doesn't matter what anyone else says, we're just going to do what we know is best for our kids. But yes, you will probably have this conversation quite a few times over. You could always come up with a simple/quick response to say to anyone who asks. Ours is that because our son has special needs that public schools refuse to meet, we know he'll do better at home. And since he could die if they screw up his emergency meds most people just leave it at that and we don't have to argue anymore. I'm sure your situation is different though, so try to think up something that people won't ask too many questions about.

08-09-2011, 10:03 AM
I think it depends on your community, your family, etc. My family is all supportive. No one here trusts the schools so people are never surprised that we looked for another option (even though that's not why, but you get the idea). I've only had a couple of those conversations where someone is really being harsh. One woman who is a friend of my mother's was at a thing at her house and was snotty about it to me then started in on my mother after I went to put the kids to bed! Oy. My poor mom.

I have a lot more "innocent, friendly, totally ignorant" questions conversations. They're fine. But they get old after awhile.

08-09-2011, 10:52 AM
I gauge my audience and the reasons they are asking questions and reply accordingly. If they seem snotty, it is short and sweet. I will not try to rationalize with someone who is irrationally attached to their own point of view and closed minded.

Those I think are just curious and don't know much about HSing (especially secular HSing cuz we are in Bible land), I will take the time to explain to them what makes HSing so fantastic. Like a gifted child being challenged instead of bored to tears, more time with my little guy, flexibility with work and traveling, freedom to pursue his learnig interests, the joy of learning he has still, the independence and accountability he has for his own education, doing school in our pjs or curled up on the couch :)

Otherwise, if I can tell the question is from a snarky judgmental place and only end in a headache - I tell them "My son has severe food allergies and I would like him to stay alive."
Not many have a comeback for that one LOL But some real anti-HS people do, telling me it is "extreme" or that they "can't believe the school wouldn't be able to keep him safe." One person actually found the one local school that IS supposedly peanut free - a local private religious school that only charges $5000 for Kindy and $8,000+ for the higher grades!! WTH?!

"Right now, HSing is what works for my son and our family. We will continue to enjoy schooling at home until it isn't working anymore. But I can't imagine him in a traditional school - he is so smart that would be bored to tears." is my pretty standard response to the snarky How long do you plan to lock you child in the basement and torture him with HSing? questions. LOL

:p on the naysayers - I have found that some of the most vocal family members when it comes to criticizing ANY of my parenting choices do so because it makes them feel uncomfortable. It may be the best for their own children too, but what they see as the inconvenience of it makes them discard it.

08-09-2011, 11:11 AM
Yes, these conversations will happen a fair amount. Of course it does depend on who you're talking to, but I often tell people, "this is what works for us." How long will you homeschool? "For as long as it meets our needs." Will you ever let your kids go to school? "If the public schools will serve them better than I can." What if your kids ASK to go to school? "What if YOUR kids ask to be HOMESCHOOLED?" Why don't you give them tests? "Did you give your daughter/son a test to find out if she/he was walking?" But how do you know if they're learning? "Are you serious?" How will they ever learn to deal with bullies? "There are bullies everywhere, including in front of me right now!" (Okay . . . I've never said that last one, but there are times when it would have served me well!)

Often, though it boils down to saying, calmly, "I understand that you are concerned about our children. However, this is not your decision; it is ours, and it's not up for discussion or debate." Then, take a deep breath and ask them to pass the bean dip.

Like Brittaya said, it also depends on how invested I am in the relationship. If it's a stranger who seems affronted that my kids are intruding upon their lazy mid-winter days strolling around Target, I keep my answers flip and I cut them off quickly to go about my business. If it's an acquaintance, I am more patient unless they seem defensive and belligerent (in which case it's "not up for discussion" and "pass the bean dip"). If it's a friend, I am more patient still, but I constantly refer to the "it's working well for us" mantra b/c friends are more likely to feel that your choices are somehow reflecting upon them. Relatives get the "I understand that you want what's best for your grandchildren/nieces/nephews and I appreciate that" and the "not up for discussion" bits. I also reassure them that we did a lot of research, and that we are "constantly evaluating" and that the public schools "are always there." Relatives seem to need us to validate their choices. We initially told our parents we were taking it one year at a time. That calmed them down for Kindy & 1st grade. Now that the girls are starting 3rd grade work on schedule, and are involved in quite a few activities, both sets of parents enjoy bragging about their homeschooled grandkids.

08-09-2011, 11:15 AM
Otherwise, if I can tell the question is from a snarky judgmental place and only end in a headache - I tell them "My son has severe food allergies and I would like him to stay alive."
Not many have a comeback for that one LOL But some real anti-HS people do, telling me it is "extreme" or that they "can't believe the school wouldn't be able to keep him safe." One person actually found the one local school that IS supposedly peanut free - a local private religious school that only charges $5000 for Kindy and $8,000+ for the higher grades!! WTH?!

Wow. That is some nerve!! Did you thank them profusely for offering to pay your son's tuition at that school?? ;) Some people have no sense of boundaries.

08-09-2011, 11:27 AM
I did get the "Did you even consider private school?" question from that woman. We're a family of four in a state with a high cost of living, managing on one public school teacher's salary. So, "NO." But the fact is, even if it were an option, I don't really think it would address our particular issues. Homeschooling still seems like the better fit, regardless of where she could go to school. Maybe if we'd started Montessori from the beginning with her, that might have been ok for her. But, not an option, and even less of one now.

Theresa Holland Ryder
08-09-2011, 11:40 AM
I finally came up with strategies to limit how many of these conversations I have. I'm perfectly willing to proselytize errh, I mean talk up homeschooling with truly interested people. Everyone else in the world, not so much. Otherwise, I feel I'd end up spending my time explaining my personal life choices to total strangers.

Accidental Homeschooler
08-09-2011, 11:43 AM
I just had the first hs conversation with my sister last month. She was pretty negative, but was trying to understand. My sister-in-law was the best, she just said something about being glad that we found a solution that works for us. Sometimes I am not sure how my brother managed to find someone so wonderful to marry into our family. Our friends are all used to us hsing and have stopped questioning. My in-laws will never be supportive of this decision but even they have stopped commenting, at least to me. There has been such a wide range of reactions. I have a friend who wishes she could hs her son, but as a single mother with a demanding job she can't. Others have said really positive things and some just do NOT want to hear about it at all. I think that is the hardest part, not knowing what kind of reaction you are going to get and having to be ready for anything. Sometimes the people you expect to be supportive are not (like my sister) and then there are those who are unexpectedly supportive. But I do think this part of hsing, being really unconventional and being questioned about it, is getting easier over time.

08-09-2011, 12:02 PM
It's definitely going to come up often at the start. Whether or not you have to deal with these kinds of not-so-nice inquiries with time remains to be seen. Some people come around and say, "Oh, you're doing a great job!" but, more often than not, most are just waiting for the rest of us to decide to be "normal" and go along with the rest of society. ;)

The suggestion that you limit who you talk about homeschooling with is a great one. I basically censor myself depending upon who is asking the questions - the naysayers get the bare minimum. And that goes with *anything* in my life, be it homeschooling, parenting in general, personal relationships, religion, etc. It's just one of those things where you get used to who is going to be friendly and open, and who is not, and ultimately learn what you can say to whom, to save yourself from any headaches.

In fact, now that I think about it, homeschooling is like the "politics and religion" of education. It's just not discussed in certain company if you don't want to subject yourself to epic facepalm after epic facepalm. ;)

08-09-2011, 01:23 PM
I have not had to deal with this too often as most of my family and friends are very supportive. However I have one family member who just cannot let it go. I have been homeschooling for over 7 years, and every time I see her (which thankfully is not that often) she feels a need to share her negative views on homeschooling, and then she goes on to tell me all the wonderful benefits of school. You would think after seven years she would have given up on me. ;)

08-09-2011, 02:26 PM
My parents are very supportive, as they've watched me bang my head up against the public school wall for years now. In fact, my mother has volunteered to help me out, as my own health issues are likely to make this necessary. It's pretty obvious when you talk to DS that he's not your average 7yo and not really a great fit for a one-size-fits-all classroom in a small, rural school, so I haven't had many negative responses.

However, I have a family member who said nothing to me personally, but decided to mention to DS how very sorry she is that he will be missing all his friends at school this year. I could have strangled her when he told me :punch: but I was quite pleased when her brother told me afterwards that DS simply told her that he was enjoying HSing and that he would see them all at hockey, karate, etc. Apparently he then went on to mention how boring and babyish he feels most of his same age classmates are anyway, and then he told her that he was happy to be going to HS classes at the local science centre with other 'scientist kids'.

I nearly cried when a good friend, with four boys of her own, mentioned on my facebook page wrt HSing that she wished she could HS and that she was "so proud to be my friend" for taking this step. Gotta love and hold on tight to friends like that!

08-09-2011, 04:21 PM
I think it depends on your community, your family, etc. My family is all supportive. No one here trusts the schools so people are never surprised that we looked for another option...

We're on the other side of this - we live in the desirable school district, and no one can believe we don't send our daughter to ps. (This, btw, is the school district that graduates 10+ valedictorians out of a class of 100 or so. WTH???) We get so many comments on this that I've started to feel like I should carry around note cards with some standard response. I'm proud of our choices, and I really believe we're doing the best possible thing for our child, but I'm starting to get edgy when the subject comes up. I'd just rather not talk about it, frankly.

08-09-2011, 04:50 PM
I really don't have much of a problem with this but admittedly I pretty much hang with HSers so there's not much chance for discussion.

I think it would be funny to turn the tables on them. When they say "Why do you homeschool?" answer with "Why are your kids in Public School?" Then whatever they answer, which I imagine would be something along the lines of "Um, well, it's, um, just where most people go to school, isn't it?" Then you can sweetly say "Oh, so you didn't give it a lot of thought then, you just did it because it's what you do?" And when they look at you stunned you can just walk away. ;)

08-09-2011, 04:55 PM
Eventually it'll just be the new folks you meet. I'm still waiting for that really rude person I can respond to with, "You mean, you send your kids to SCHOOL? Wow! I just couldn't do that! I'm just not patient enough with bureaucracy. Aren't you worried they aren't learning enough? Are you having them tested to make sure they don't fall behind? Aren't you worried they aren't being properly socialized?" :_lol:

I think you need to come up with your "this conversation is over" sentence. The conversation is NEVER productive if you are feeling defensive. Maybe said, "It's our decision and we're happy with it. However, you are free to screw up your kids however you see fit and I won't say a thing. I haven't said anything yet, have I?" :roll eyes: Too harsh? Maybe just say the first part and THINK the rest. :D

speech mom
08-09-2011, 06:38 PM
My mother in law is very opinionated about how wrong our homes schooling is. I am tempted to tell her that I would love to continue the discussion as soon as she has educated herself on home schooling.

08-09-2011, 06:41 PM
I haven't had this one lately. But if they really want to know:Well geez do you have all day? Because I could go through this chapter and verse why I don't like the state of public schools in America right now, but most specifically the ones where I live. My trust in that has been completely eroded. I feel for the teachers, because many are caught in-between said broken system and a variety of parents ranging from helicoptering to indifferent; militant to cultish----

Where I live, you don't even have to register as a homeschooler. So they can ask all they want, I don't have to tell them anything.

So at the end of the day, the short answer is: You raise your kids and I will raise mine.

That sums it up regarding a variety of parenting issues.

If someone sends their kids to regular ps and it's working, more power to them. And if you are a radical unschooler and your kid is doing fine--then that's fine with me.

Me? I don't have enough hours in the day to go around conducting surprise inspections regarding other people's lives. Maybe that is the problem. They have too much time on their hands.

08-09-2011, 06:52 PM
I've learned to say, "this is what is right for my family, right now".

Thankfully my mother in-law is supportive, sometimes helps me buy curriculum. My family is full of public school teachers, so I get some grief from them. Although they don't realize that many of their work horror stories helped fuel my desire to homeschool. So its their fault!!

Stella M
08-09-2011, 06:59 PM
Approximately 62, 972 times in a homeschool career :) After a while you stop being polite and vague and start being pointed and specific. Sure, you lose a few friends/family members, but the ones who stay ? They are now too scared to to ask you anything...bliss!

08-09-2011, 08:17 PM
Those I think are just curious and don't know much about HSing (especially secular HSing cuz we are in Bible land), I will take the time to explain to them what makes HSing so fantastic. Like a gifted child being challenged instead of bored to tears, more time with my little guy, flexibility with work and traveling, freedom to pursue his learnig interests, the joy of learning he has still, the independence and accountability he has for his own education, doing school in our pjs or curled up on the couch :)

And some people will still argue. I'm reminded of a homeschooling mom who didn't like to talk about her son's giftedness, but she was finally badgered into acknowledging that she homeschools largely because not too many schools offer calculus to seventh graders. The badgerer responded in all earnestness, "But wouldn't he learn just as much helping the other kids with algebra?"

08-09-2011, 10:37 PM
Get just as much helping other kids with algebra? Seriously?

And yes, I too heard loads of horror stories from teachers, read them in the news, and in articles etc., survived some really bad teachers myself.

Why would I want to put my kid in the middle of that?

Perhaps if we turn it around and ask them, what their favorite part is about ps? Fashion Shows? Ritual Hazing? Nuggies? Swirlies? Sexting? ooh how about the on-campus-drug deals? Keggers? Fraternization between teachers and students?

08-09-2011, 11:01 PM
Greenmother don't forget the random shootings and bomb threats, and the occasional stabbing.

08-09-2011, 11:48 PM
Yes, we go through it every once in a while, but not with family, fortunately. They're all on board and none have ever really expressed reservations to us, if they even have any. Our "end of conversation" sentence is much like everyone else's: "It works for us and with what we believe education should be about. We don't think we're superior or public school kids are inferior." Then it's their choice to believe it or not.

08-10-2011, 08:08 AM
Since this is our first year home schooling I've thought about this a lot. I'm already preparing my responses.

"Why aren't your kids in school?" "They're on a different schedule." (That'll stop a few.)
"What school do your kids go to?" "This year we're schooling at home." (Yes I said home school. But reversing the words might take them an extra second to think about it and time for me to leave.)
"Oh wow why are you home schooling?" "Our family has a lot of special needs outside of just education and this is what works for us right now." (Yeah special like I'm sick of my daughter being bullied and then ignored by teachers because she doesn't need much help with her school work and is a good kid and I'm sick of my son getting passed through grades when he needed more attention because of no child left behind the school can only hold back a few kids per grade.)

08-11-2011, 11:40 AM
There's a quote from the Buddha that goes something like, "People with opinions go around bothering each other."

I try to take all the philosophical reasons out of the conversation with anyone who's opinionated because I don't believe anything I say is going to "make them see the light." They'll either get there or they won't. I take the burden off myself. It's not my job to convince them of anything.

If it's someone strongly opinionated or close-minded I simply say that we've decided this would work better for our particular situation without further detail and then think of something positive to say about their own choices for education. Disarming with niceties is my specialty. If it's someone closer to me, I trust that in time they'll SEE for themselves that we've made a good choice, or NOT and that's fine. I simply return to the comfort of knowing it's not my job to fix other people's opinions.

08-11-2011, 07:07 PM
I tend to disengage in a conversation about homeschooling depending on the level of negativity from the other person. I don't have any close friends who homeschool, so everyone thinks I'm crazy. They also tend to lump me into some kind of group. My one friend says "Of all my friends you don't surprise me as the one to choose homeschooling". I don't know how to take that but I'm going to think positive.

08-13-2011, 10:45 AM
I simply return to the comfort of knowing it's not my job to fix other people's opinions.

This is what I do as well. And I love that quote! My family is all either supportive or intimidated by me (just because I speak fast and articulately in debate, not because I'm scary! Southerners have a hard time with fast speakers.) but where I've encountered resistance, I've simply let it go.

There was ONE TIME I allowed myself to be drawn into a debate about homeschooling and I regretted it immensely. The person with whom I was speaking doesn't even have children and I felt so silly for acting on my initial flood of anger instead of saying my usual, "come find us in twenty years and you can ask the boys for yourself if I've messed them up." And walking away.

No more! Those conversations, even when they end quickly and painlessly, linger in my mind and I end up brooding over them somewhat ridiculously.

08-13-2011, 12:05 PM
We started home schooling in the eight grade. My daughter also is a gifted student. The reason we started home schooling at such a late date is the failure of the public school system to offer truly challenging work. I just refer anyone to the state of education in my state and no more questions asked. A child has to be ready for college not just a diploma. Now other parents are asking me about home schooling and of course I refer them to this site. Lots of issues and fears are covered here and I'm sure is a great help in deciding whether home schooling high school is something they want to do. Home schooling is coming out of the closet, expanding at a tremendous rate.

08-13-2011, 08:12 PM
My own parents are pretty much indifferent, but generally support everything I choose weather or not they agree with it. My inlaws are surprisingly supportive. My husband's step father is an assistant superintendant of a public school district in CA and has been teaching/otherwise involved in the public school system for over 20 years now, so I expected some negativity from him, but he has been really helpful gathering resources, etc. My husband's father and other family in El Salvador are basically baffled and don't understand at all what homeschooling is, but they have been pretty cool about it. It is an uncomfortable thing not knowing how people will react and having to be ready to defend yourself all the time.

08-13-2011, 08:52 PM
I also don't engage in these conversations. I could never convince a person whose mind is already made up. And I really don't give a crap what anyone thinks anyway so I won't spend the effort.

I've had some very direct doozies thrown at me...confrontational statements about homeschooling being wrong, shouldn't be legal, etc. My response now is an amused "really ?" followed by a shrug. Sometimes I will even say, "that's okay...you don't have to like it" followed by a :D. In other words, "your opinon makes no difference to me and you are not going to upset me or get me to argue."

There have been a couple of people who had a very hard time letting it go...they came back to me over and over with new arguments. It was amusing to watch/listen to the squirming when I replied to each of their assertions, "really ? Well, we are really happy with this and it's working, so we'll continue !" Rinse, repeat. They get very frustrated when their baiting doesn't yield a good argument.

08-13-2011, 10:09 PM
Soo I stupidly told my self man it sure is great not to be explaining I homeschool anymore. Then just today as my neighbor asking my boys if they were excited to go to school and they told her they stopped going because it sucked. (remind me to put a filter over their mouthes) I found my self yet again explaining it. Then realized...it was during the schools summer break that I stopped having to answer the question. I need to work on training my kids to say something other then what they love to say. "School is lame I don't go" Or the " I stopped going because it sucks"

08-14-2011, 07:23 AM
Ha ha! That sounds like something my dd would say.

08-14-2011, 02:04 PM
Just yesterday I went through this again. My dh and I met with some friends and during conversation they became aware that I added the two little ones to my homeschool with my middle schooler. Her question..."Oh, do they need help in school too?" Do my kids have 'dense' on their forehead or something? That's pretty offensive. Where does someone get the idea that homeschooling is for kids who can't cut it in public school? Grrrrrr!