Criticism and Discouragement

Okay. So my hormones are out of control. That has to have something to do with how I’m feeling. But also, sometimes things are just hard and discouraging.

So I have been seriously considering homeschooling for almost a year. Researching, agonizing, praying, thinking, talking, agonizing some more, praying even more… I mean it’s not something I’ve jumped into without putting in immense amounts of work and lots of tearful and prayerful hours. There are good and bad things about homeschooling, just like there are good and bad things about public schools.

You can NOT have it all!

Schools do a very poor job at the most important things… namely any real education, any moral education, and any religious freedom… Public schools for teaching your kids to think? Forget about it. Regurgitate information and suck the love of learning out of them, all day long. But critical thinking skills? Nope. 

Public schools, however, do a fabulous job at socializing kids. And that is the main… in fact in many instances it is the ONLY argument FOR putting your kids in school. But it is NOT enough for me.

In choosing to do homeschooling, I know upfront, that homeschooling will NEVER offer the same amount of socialization that public school offers. It just won’t. It’s impossible. I can do my very best to do everything in my power to get as much socialization for my children as possible, but nothing will ever measure up to 40 hours a week of pure socialization. Is it healthy socialization? No. But it’s still there, built into the system.

However, just like homeschooling will never give children the amount of socialization… public schools will NEVER give children the amount of one on one, personalized attention and opportunities for learning. They will never be able to give my child what I can give him by way of actual education, morals, critical thinking, and many other MUCH MORE IMPORTANT things.

I have AGONIZED over this decision people. There have been sleepless nights and tearful days. But I am positive this is the right decision. It has taken me a long time, but this is what I need to do. And I have prepared myself in every way possible to take on this responsibility… and I take it VERY seriously. It weighs heavily on me, that I am responsible for educating and socializing my children in every way… no transferring that to someone else, and if I fail then my children will pay for my mistakes. That is an agonizing truth.

So why on EARTH do people who know me… people who love me… people who SAY that they support me…. WHY do they do everything in their power to criticize and discourage me from doing this? Why do they feel the need to CONSTANTLY point out what will be missing, what they think we will struggle with, the problems that THEY think my children will face because of my decision, the issues that THEY see with regard to my parenting style??? Why do they feel the need to tear me down? Why do they think that they know better than I do about what is best for MY OWN CHILDREN? Do they actually think that I have never considered that it will be difficult to socialize my children while doing homeschooling? Do they think I’m that stupid or willfully ignorant? Do they enjoy beating me down when I’m already feeling so much overwhelming pressure and responsibility? I mean, I already feel a bit like I’m drowning over here.  I’ve already wrestled with each and every one of these issues, and many more that these people have never even considered. And I’ve made a very difficult decision. I’m going in with my eyes open and doing everything in my power to do the very best that I can.

I’ve taken courses in teaching, I’ve attended seminars to be able to teach the particular curriculum we’ve purchased, I’ve been teaching for YEARS anyway. I’ve set up play dates. I’ve gotten in contact with local homeschool play groups and little league sports. I’ve reached out to every place I can think of to make this be the best it can possibly be.  Do they REALLY think I would do something SO drastic without carefully researching it?

I am SO frustrated!!! I could scream or cry or punch someone…. but I’ll probably end up just eating myself sick and watching chick flicks all night. I’m overwhelmed and trying not to shut down, and people are so effing rude and nosey. It’s none of their damn business anyway.

Do I question THEIR parenting skills and philosophies? Do I tell them EVERYTHING that could possibly go wrong because they choose to put their children in public schools? Do I constantly harp on them and ask them how they’re going to make up for the lack of real education that their children will receive, or snidely remark that they only send their kids to school for free day care?  So why do they think it’s okay for them to behave like this?

I am so sick of the comments. So sick of the questions… that aren’t really questions, they’re just the nice way of saying “I think you’re wrong and I’m going to bring up a concern to try and make you justify your choice to me” as if it’s any of their effing business anyway. So sick of people giving knowing glances to each other when they ask me questions about it.

It is not helpful. In fact it is very hurtful. I don’t know that most people are trying to be mean or rude when they do it. I just think that they feel like they have the right to judge me, that they feel like they know the “best” way.  I was laughing the other day that I had to start doing homeschooling because I wasn’t marginalized, isolated, and taken for granted enough as a stay at home mom. Let’s add copious amounts of judgment and condescension to that list. Holy shit people, do you really think this is necessary? Do you really think you have the right? Do you really think that, as their mother, I haven’t already considered every issue you’re bringing up, and more, and painstakingly made one of the MOST important decisions of my life?

Here’s the thing. I’m a big girl. I will make whatever decisions I feel are best for my family, REGARDLESS of what anyone says or does. But if people choose to act this way, then they are choosing to leave my life. Period. I don’t need this. And if by chance I fail in any of the ways that they have predicted, I CERTAINLY don’t need people gleefully saying “I told you so” as I try to help my children pay for therapy. People like that don’t need to be part of my life. So maybe this is a blessing. It’s a screening process for me to see who should remain in my life.

But it is hurtful. It is discouraging. To receive SO MUCH negative feedback. And it’s pretty constant since I “came out” and admitted publicly that I was going to start homeschooling.

I always say that when you make a BIG life altering decision, you can always know for CERTAIN that it was correct because of the amount of opposition you receive for making that choice. And boy howdy that has been true this summer. Just the highlights… 1 root canal, 2 crowns, 1 broken sewer main, 1 foundation repair, 1 broken refrigerator, and countless rude assholes trying to show me what a big mistake they think I’m making…. based on what research? What anecdotal evidence? Oh that’s right… they haven’t ever done any real serious research about homeschooling, because they’ve never really considered it a viable option… so their opinion is based on what exactly?… yeah, societal norms and preconceived biases, and not one shred of real information or data… not one ounce of actual thought or research. Just spewing the same bilge at me that I get from everyone else. Nothing new, nothing of value, just judgment and prejudice.

I’m vacillating wildly between psychopathic rage and utter despair. I’m so hurt and discouraged. I’m already feeling so overwhelmed. I just need someone to be in my corner and give me some encouragement, or some type of “I know you can do it” support. And all I get is “helpful” criticism and judgment.  And they know they aren’t being helpful. They know that they’re passive aggressively telling me that I’m making a huge mistake.

Listen, being a mom is hard. It’s hard for all of us. There are so many decisions. And there’s always the ever present guilt that you can’t always be everything and be perfect, and that every one of your shortcomings and mistakes will be paid for by your children. That’s huge and all of us face it, and I’m on the precipice of adding a whole new layer to that guilt/responsibility base. How about giving each other a break? How about getting out of my face? How about assuming that everyone is doing the very best that she knows how and maybe just needs a bit of support and encouragement.

I don’t really need approval. I’ll do it anyway, and hopefully I’ll do such a good job that it will change the opinions of some people that know me… probably not, because opinions and prejudices run deep and have little to do with fact or experience. I just didn’t expect this much backlash for such a deeply personal decision.

 

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7 thoughts on “Criticism and Discouragement

  1. It is tough to not have the support of those you care about. It sounds like you have put the time and energy researching all possibilities and are making an informed decision. Do what you feel is best for your child/ren and usually, when some time has passed, people start to come around. As for socialization. My children are more socialized as homesschoolers than they were in public school. We have the time to spend building strong quality friendships without all the drama and bullying. Not to mention the ability to pursue clubs and extracurricular activities we wouldn’t normally have the time to be a part of. Seek out local homeschool families, they will offer a lot of support and encouragement. ~Wishing you all the very best~

  2. Are you worried about ssssssssssocialization? Let me encourage you haha come read my blog posts about the OVERsocialized homeschooled children in my house, and the struggles I’ve had with the same things you’re focusing, oh and feel free to email me, as a veteran homeschooler there aren’t so many situations I haven’t already encountered…..and most of the bad ones center exactly around the things you just blogged about.

  3. I’m sorry to hear you are in such lack of support. Homeschooling is a big undertaking. To me, I see it like I see natural child birth. It is something that I know I could never do but that doesn’t mean I have to justify or validate my choice by criticizing yours. I hate it when people get caught up in which choice is better as if it is a competition. As you say, there are pros and cons on both sides. I admire your choice and the added amount of work you are willing to take on in behalf of your child(ren). That is really all any of us can do – make the very best choice for our personal circumstances. If there is one thing I know about you it is that you take your role as mother very seriously. No one can ever be justified in criticizing the choices you make as a parent. I know you take them seriously and make them prayerfully. Every child should be as fortunate as your children are to have a parent like you.

    And seriously, you aren’t kidding – you have been hit hard this summer. Over and over and over again. Way to keep going through it all. I hope things get better soon!

  4. Being part of a homeschool support group will exponentially multiply your chances of succeeding and continuing to homeschool. I highly recommend that you find a homeschool support group in your area so you can get some support from veteran homeschoolers that have been where you are now. Believe me, it’s nice to have someone to call and talk to on those rough days.

    Here’s a post I wrote some time ago about debunking the naysayers: http://loricamper.wordpress.com/2011/02/10/debunking-the-homeschooling-naysayers/
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  5. It makes me so angry that you are receiving so much criticism for a choice that you’ve made for YOUR family. I am so, so sorry. I completely agree with you on all your points about public school. I am just starting to research homeschooling- we have about 4 years before we have to do anything, but I do NOT want Charlotte in public, and I really don’t want to go back to work to afford private. My husband is SO against homeschooling because he believes all the stereotypes about the kids being anti-social. It’s frustrating. I think it’s just like anything else- if you are deliberate about creating social opportunities for them, they will be just fine. I support you 1000%, and even if I didn’t, it’s none of my business to say anything negative. People are just mean. Hugs.

  6. I know it is hard to ignore all the criticism but you really have to try. It is just going to discourage you further. I think most people who have such a strong negative opinion about homeschooling have issues with what they chose and trying to defend their decisions and it is nothing about you. I say you focus on others who are in the same path as you and who have the experience and try to take all the criticism as just people not knowing better. After all you have invested so much time on this decision so you know what is best for you and your kids. HUGS.
    Hope the hormones are calming down.

  7. I hear a lot of crazy things about what people think about teeth. When really they don’t have a clue what they are talking about. They are so convinced that they are right. I just listen. If they are so closed minded that I can tell that trying to educate them would be a waste of my time, I just kind give them a ,”hmmmm.” And change the subject or leave. People ask me after why I didn’t correct them. I usually just tell them if people aren’t open minded I’m not going to waste my breath. Because as a great friend of my once said, “You can’t fix stupid.” It must be their public education. It’s hard when it’s so personal. No one knows your kids like you do and therefore their opinion doesn’t count. Good luck with this. I admire you for doing it.

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