What I say; What you hear

I know I've written about this before, but it is lost somewhere in the bowels of the blog, and may never see the light of day again. A conversation on a social media venue made me remember it, so I'll revisit it.

I have learned that my (or anyone else's) decision to homeschool can feel threatening to others. Here's why:

Other mom: Where do your kids go to school?
Me: Oh, we homeschool.
What the other mom hears: I have chosen the more responsible and valuable option for educating my children. It is because I am so much more patient and able than other mothers who send their child off to be educated by someone else. I must love my children more than you love yours.
What I meant: I homeschool my children.

Yes, I happen to think that I have made the best decision FOR MY FAMILY. If I didn't think this, there were not be much basis to continue or on those hard days when I wonder what the heck I was thinking. Trust me when I say that I have enough on my plate with my own children to give even half a thought to how you choose to educate yours. When I say I homeschool my children, it is a mere statement of fact, and not in any way a value judgement against you, the public school parent.

The trouble can come when a parent is sharing about difficulties their child is having in school. Not only have I jumped off the traditional schooling path a long time ago, but the path is so far away from where I currently am, that I wonder why someone puts up with a child having such severe issues with the school system. When you see one way of educating a child as just that, one option out of several, than it becomes easier to see the problem as that particular path and not with the child. I know I am not the only one to see things this way, though others are often a little quicker to throw out the homeschooling life preserver. I guess I should add, 'out loud,' because I will admit to thinking it.

I realize that not everyone can homeschool. If you are working, it makes it extremely difficult. I also realize that not everyone wants to, and that's just fine, too. But remember, just because I say that we are homeschoolers does not mean anything more than that. And if a parent shares that their child is struggling with the school, and a homeschooling parent suggests that homeschooling might help, it is not thrown out there as some kind of magic bullet, but because that parent has found something positive in homeschooling and feels it would be wrong to not share what was working for them, with someone who is struggling.

People seem to me to be so very touchy these days. It's almost as if we have lost the ability to understand that we are all different and will choose different ways to do things. That one person's choice doesn't really have any bearing on another's. In my many discussions with people about homeschooling, I have found that the people who have the most difficulty with it are those who have not spent a lot of time thinking about why they are on the path that they are. It's almost as if my choosing something different than the standard, accepted path causes too much cognitive dissonance in the other person. There's nothing like realizing you had a choice, but didn't realize it until after you had de facto made one. Interestingly, these are also the same people who then assume to know exactly what homeschooling looks like. The subsequent conversations then tend to be frustrating all the way around.

So, just in case you missed my main point, if someone says to you that they homeschool, and you do not, that other person is making no judgement on you, but merely stating a fact. This would seem a simple thing to grasp, but the evidence in the several social media venues I've seen recently would indicate otherwise.


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