We’ve all been there. The glares in the grocery store during school hours. The interrogating questions from strangers. The concerned family member that calls you midday to make sure you are really “doing school.” Critics exist. They aren’t going anywhere. Actually, the longer you homeschool, the more you might see them pop out of nowhere. The question is, how do you handle the unexpected snark remarks, questions or attitudes concerning your decision to homeschool?
It usually happens when you least expect it. You just finished up an intriguing unit study that kept even your most distracted child engaged. You feel like you’ve accomplished something today. Now, you have some free time to head to the store and pick up some things before company arrives the next day. After a good, quality talk in the van about hospitality and kindness in preparation for the coming guests, your kids go into the store excited to pick up some necessities for your company. They are happy to help and eagerly help you search the aisles for some last minute items you need to make them feel welcome. Then, the bomb is dropped. The questions are asked, “was school let out early today?” Or, “did you kids have a doctor’s appointment today?” I love how they tend to ask the children, not me. And it’s funny, you know they are thinking, “why in the world aren’t those kids in school right now?!” But they phrase the question a bit different so they appear to not seem as rude.
It’s funny that they usually ask when things are going well and the last thought in your mind had anything to do with school. One Friday, we had a yard sale at our home. The kids were younger and at that time I was doing school only four day weeks. Even though they were young, they helped set up the sale and helped us keep it going throughout the day. We had piles of clothes, toys and household items to get rid of. It was a great learning experience for them in so many ways. Several people had come through and when my six year old sold a couple his Tonka trunk, they just smiled as they handed him the $5. It wasn’t until later in the day that the question was asked by a middle aged man, directly to the kids, “so, where do you go to school?” My husband quickly interjected, “here.” The man looked confused. “We homeschool,” my husband added, “so they go to school here.” Once the light bulb went off and he realized what my husband meant, he quickly responded, “oh I don’t agree with that at all!” and continued to share a homeschool horror story about someone he knew. Another yard saler was listening nearby to this man’s rant and as soon as the disgruntled fellow left he came over to us. He said his sister had just recently started homeschooling and was looking for a group to connect with in the area and hoped maybe I could help her out. I am so thankful that neither my husband or I got upset or worked up over the angry fellow. We might not have been able to help out the other man looking for information for his sister. We need to be instant in season and out. You just never know. Sure, you are going to meet the ones who have their negative opinions but you can also be a blessing to the ones in the world that are likeminded.
I also have learned that when some people ask questions that seem accusing, they might honestly be trying to understand. It may come across as harsh but they might be hoping that you can shine some light on the unusual topic of homeschooling. Approach people’s questions with kindness rather than frustration. Yes, some people really are mean and will never get on board, but remember, that isn’t everyone. Try to be open to how the Lord might want you to respond because you never know, He might use you to change someone’s heart about the topic. There could be a hurt or pain in someone’s life with another homeschooling family and they are simply stereotyping you, assuming you are just like them. Be who you are and let God minister through you, you might be surprised with what God does!