Q. I’m overwhelmed with negative comments and criticism from a close family member who does not support our decision to homeschool. How should I respond without creating more of a problem?
A. I am so sorry you are facing criticism about your decision to homeschool. Having relatives who support homeschooling is a blessing, but, sadly, that’s not always the case. I’m sure the pressure you face from critical comments can be discouraging and disheartening. Homeschooling in the face of hostility is not easy, but, hopefully, their opinions will change in time.
From early childhood we want to please our parents. They are happy when we respond to them in a way that meets their expectations. This is good and right according to scripture. However, when we leave our mother and father and cleave to our husband to establish our own family, our relationship with our parents changes. God will give direction directly to your family as you seek Him. We must always honor our father and mother by giving them respect, but you and your husband must choose a course of action that is right for your family. This may not be the choice your parents would make for many reasons—perhaps due to a lack of understanding, family tradition, or wrong information.
We have chosen not to educate as everyone else does or, more specifically, as our parents did. Because of this, we are sometimes openly criticized. Most critics don’t understand the benefits or positive outcomes of one-on-one instruction—they either have no knowledge of the social and academic success of homeschoolers, or they are misinformed.
In order to address negative comments, it’s important to be knowledgeable about home education and calmly answer questions or address remarks in a gracious manner. Pass on information and facts in a natural way. Most people are well meaning when they let you know what they think, but they tend to resist things that are new or unfamiliar to them.
Tell them, with a kind attitude, that you appreciate their concern and have always valued their opinion. But, because you love your children and want to pass on your family’s values, and because you are committed to their educational success, you have chosen to educate them at home. Assure them that you will use the best resources available to accomplish this task.
Include grandparents or relatives in any way you can. If you have young children, you may want to develop a scrapbook or portfolio to show extended family members when they visit. Include weekly samples of each child’s best work for every subject. Seeing photographs of field trips and other educational activities (such as science experiments or special projects) may allay their concerns. Older students can do something similar by sharing their materials and work. Get relatives involved—ask them to join you on an educational field trip or museum visit, help teach a subject, or share the family history.
Pray for those who don’t understand. As you continue to homeschool, many of your harshest critics may become quieter or fade away. Give them time to change their minds. They may become less skeptical as they see your children’s successes.
Don’t be defensive or argumentative, but be confident in what God has called you to do. You can be assured that God will strengthen you through this trial. He will give you His direction and help you accomplish the task set before you. When you focus on the vision God has given you for your family, the opinions of others can be put in proper perspective.
With warm regards,