Homeschooling Reality: how to handle negative comments

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How to handle other people's opinions

Everyone has an opinion on homeschooling and, unfortunately, most of them want to share it. Of course that’s lovely when we feel praised and supported – but a lot of the time we are having our choices criticised, judged, and belittled, and that never feels good.

Have you been on the receiving end of comments like :

“You can’t teach your kids – only a teacher can do that!”

“Your children won’t know how to socialise. How will they survive in the world when they grow up?”

“You’re letting your children down.”

It gets tiring having to justify your decisions over and over. 

Sometimes when you hear these things too often – or from certain people – it can really undermine your confidence to stick with homeschooling

You are not alone. Most of us have had to stand our ground and defend our decisions at some stage.

Here are some ways to understand homeschool criticism.

What I will cover

The kind of people who criticise homeschooling

I have come to learn there are basically two types of people who make negative comments about homeschooling.

There are people who genuinely care for you but don’t always know the right things to say.

And then there are people who are downright nasty and don’t care about hurting your feelings.

There are the people who love you

Most negative comments about your homeschool will come from people who love you and genuinely care for you. It might seem strange to say it, but that is a good thing! Comments from these people come from a place of caring, they just don’t know the right words to use.

These are people like your loving sister-in-law, your caring neighbour, your devoted parents, or your supportive partner.

They say things like:
Your children won’t learn how to socialise!

They will be weird homeschoolers.

You can’t teach your kids – only a teacher can do that!

But it is TOO MUCH for you!

But what they are really mean is:
I love your children so much, I want them to have a rich social experience when they grow up.

I love your children so much I want them to have the brightest education possible!

I love you and I don’t want to see you stressed.

Now I do not want to gaslight you here – there are people are just downright nasty and they mean what they say, and we will get to them later. 

For now, it’s worth knowing that a lot of the time people really do want the best for you – they just don’t know there are different ways for that to happen.  What they are doing is projecting their fears onto you and that sounds and feels like criticism.  What they are trying to say is “I want the best for you and your children, I just had no idea homeschooling was a valid option for that!”  But their words don’t sound like that!

Is that your fault?  No!  Of course not!  And it isn’t your responsibility to shoulder the burden of other people’s fears.  But when you realise the intention behind people’s comments it can make it much easier to know how to deal with them.

Later in this article we will explore how to communicate with critical people, especially when they are your closest loved ones, and then how to move on and confidently homeschool.

And there are the people who are downright nasty

So what about those people who are actually plain nasty? These are the family members we have dysfunctional relationships with. These are judgemental strangers who have little regard for our feelings. These are people in institutions who do not support our autonomy.

These are the most hurtful comments to receive because you can’t even understand them from the basis of love and there is generally no space for healthy communication. These comments really sting. But there is one thing you can remember when you’re dealing with people like this. Their comments aren’t really about you or your decision to homeschool – their comments are about them, about their wanting to control you, about their wanting to project their anger onto you, about them wanting to cause drama just because they can.

So, whoever is criticising your homeschool and whatever they are saying – the key takeaway for you is that their comments do not reflect you or your homeschool. Their comments reflect their fears, their judgements, and their experiences. Knowing this means you can shake off any defensiveness and any anxiety you feel about your homeschool and you can move onto finding the easiest way to communicate with these people.

How to convince people homeschooling is best

Are you already thinking:

“Where is the best article or podcast that I can share with my aunt/mother/best-friend/husband/brother/guy-at-the-fruit-shop to convince them homeschooling is best?”

In a dream world everybody would understand why we choose to homeschool and applaud us for it.

But in reality everybody has different opinions and experiences – and that is what makes life beautiful! So before you go sharing articles and podcasts understand there are, once again, two kinds of people offering homeschool criticism.

There are people who are interested in your opinion and are open to learning more about homeschooling. They might even be open to changing their own opinion on homeschooling.

And then there are the people who are stuck in their own opinions and are not interested in learning anything about homeschooling.

You can really understand what I mean by imagining this scenario … if the tables were turned and this person was constantly sending YOU articles that were anti-homeschooling … how would you feel?

How do you open communication with other people around homeschooling?

It is easy to find out if somebody is interested in learning more about your decision to homeschool and possibly changing their opinions on the topic – just ask them! 

“Would you like to listen to this podcast so you can understand why I made my choice?”

“Can I share with you an article that explains the benefits of homeschooling?”

If this person is interested in your resources – share away!  But if they choose to stick to their own opinion and are criticising homeschooling, you might need to find some other strategies for handling communication with this person.

A tip about Facebook
Just incase you haven’t noticed … Facebook is a breeding ground for passive aggressive arguments and people love to throw their opinions around on this platform!  If you come across a thread about homeschooling that upsets you, before you reply, pause and ask yourself:
Will this thread bother me in ten years time?
If the answer is no, then close the page and turn your attention back to your homeschool.  It simply isn’t worth the battle!

Put your energy where it matters.

That is the simple solution here.  Engage in constructive communications that help both you and the other people to learn more about each other.  Walk away from arguments that will only drain your energy.  The longer you homeschool the more confident you will become in your decision and you will no longer worry about other people’s comments.

How to feel confident about your homeschool

You will find that when you feel deeply confident and satisfied with your homeschool you will no longer be interested in trying to prove yourself to people who criticise you. It will become easy for you to silently say to yourself, “I know my homeschool is just right for us.” And you will perfect the art of smiling, nodding, and walking away! You will feel confident in your homeschool when you know your child’s learning environment is perfect for them, for you, and for everybody’s future. You won’t need to defend yourself when you know for certain what will really matter in ten years’ time and you focus on that. So understand where people’s homeschool criticism comes from, check if they are interested in learning more about your decision, and keep your energy focussed on healthy communication and, most of all, your homeschool. Do you worry that your homeschool isn’t good enough? Are people’s comments getting to you? Are you starting to question whether you ARE making the right decisions? Get some tips on how to build and nurture the perfect homeschool for your child, yourself, and your family.

What if my closest friends and family criticise me?

This is definitely the hardest situation to be in. As with any phase of life, we want the support of our loved ones when it comes to homeschooling. But, are your closest support people saying things like :

“It will be too much for you.”

“I don’t want my children to be weird.”

“You aren’t smart enough to teach the kids.”

It is impossible to walk away from comments that come from our closest loved ones, so how do you handle them? Take the same approach as above.

  1. Be respectful of your loved ones’ opinions. Ask them if they would read the article or watch the podcast. Tell them it is important to you and you would like them to understand your choice.
  2. Invest your energy where it matters. At the end of the day nurturing the perfect homeschool and cultivating a loving relationship is more important than arguing.
  3. Set some safe boundaries with these relationships. Boundaries are the key to healthy relationships! If you have loved ones who are being a little too oppositional it might be time to reevaluate your boundaries with them.

If in doubt, ask yourself: what will matter most in ten years’ time? Use that focus as your motivation.

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