Homeschool Dilemmas: Keeping the Peace
Mouthy Members of the Family
Homeschooling my children was a wonderful experience and I loved every minute. One of the biggest flies in the sugar bowl was outspoken members of my family who thought keeping our children home was wrong. Who hasn’t experience at least one mouthy member of the family that insists that children can only thrive in public school? Of course, they are thinking of the public school experience they had and not TODAY’S public school system. Today kids have to be concerned with more than getting caught chewing gum in class or bullies. There are drug salesmen everywhere and peer pressure like you and I never had to battle. There are cell phones with photos capability ready to photograph your children in restrooms and locker rooms, ready to send them to friends and post them on social media. The worst social media problem we had to deal with was finding someone wrote your name and number in the boy’s bathroom. Things like this are the reasons most parents tackle the daunting task of educating their children at home.
Before looking into a hermitage to hide in, try these few helpful hints.
First, Don’t Stay Away
- Distancing the children from the opinionated family member doesn’t work well. I know. It mostly causes hard feelings. The children become confused and feel like they have to take sides. One of my children actually asked if I had stopped loving my family over the homeschool issue.
Homeschool IS School
- No matter what anyone says, homeschool IS school. The children still have work to do and subjects to master even if they are home. Sure, they spend less time and a little more fun is had each day, but it is still school. Don’t let your family or children forget that. Remember Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” KJV In light of this, pray every day with your children for the person(s) that have been against your school. Prayer for people who are against you or your school makes the children know you still love and care for them. James 5:16, “The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much.” KJV
- Consider the outspoken person as one of the assets God has given you to utilize for your children’s education. One of the people most against my tackling high school at home was my sister. She had a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and assured me that if she was not qualified to teach (with a degree), I most certainly could not be qualified at all. We prayed for my sister regularly and one day I realized that she had access to several things that my children would like to see. After praying for good success, I called my sister and asked if she would give us a tour at the Waste Water Treatment Plant, where she worked. She was actually delighted. The kids got to see what she did there and even used the microscopes to see the paramecium on the slides she had prepared. Then they asked if they could prepare Petri dishes at home and come back to her lab to look at the cultures they had grown. She had to admit she was impressed with their knowledge and their desire to know more.
- Instead of isolating myself and my children from her, which was my first thought, we reached out to her and it made a real difference in her attitude toward us and homeschool. I can’t say I made a convert of her and that she homeschooled her own child, but she no longer blasted me on a consistent basis.
Avoid Hard Feelings
- Arguing with the fuming family only serves to solidify hard feelings. Things are said in the midst of a heated argument that you will only wish you could take back. My dad always said that words are like bullets: once you shot one, you can never take it back. Instead, pray before you see or call the family member that you know will lampoon your homeschool. Proverbs 15:8, “But the prayer of the upright is His delight.” KJV
- Just refuse to argue. Romans 12:18, “If it be possible, as much as it lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”…including family. If nothing else works, agree to disagree. I finally went to my mother and asked if we could have a truce. I prayed for peace first. Exodus 20:12, “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord they God giveth thee.” KJV I told her how much I loved her and wanted to keep a good relationship with her. But I also told her how much God had confirmed our decision to keep our children home. We agreed to drop the issue and instead to enjoy each other’s company at get-togethers. Basically, we agreed to disagree, and that is something.
How do you handle conflict with family?
Special Events and Field Trips
- Try to include the hostile family member(s) whenever possible in special events, such as field trips, banquets, science fairs, or special performances like piano recitals, gymnastics meets, little league games, dramas or theater performances. Because homeschool is more flexible than a traditional school, we were able to have events we could include others into. We could schedule events like field trips to fit with the schedules of others as well. This meant a lot to my family. It meant mostly that they felt included and not shut out. They were all at the graduations as well.
Don't Go It Alone
- Don’t allow yourself to become an island. Reach out to other homeschoolers. Keep yourself close to a strong support group. They will understand what you are facing and may have some great tips to try. It is always best to have a good friend to discuss your frustrations with, so you don’t feel like you are doing it all alone.
- They do eventually come around and admit what a pleasant change from the average your children are. Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be wearing in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” KJV As a matter of fact, your children will also come back and let you know how much they appreciate the time and effort you spent on their schooling. Those are the days to look forward to.
- What is more, the colleges my children applied to were very welcoming and encouraging. We were told that homeschooled children were found to be better students than public school students on average. One school admissions counselor actually told me that they preferred homeschooled students. They were more focused and able to study better independently. Who knew it had that benefit?
Not everyone is cut out to homeschool their children. It is a lot of work and takes preparation and dedication. However today there are so many more resources than there were when I tackled this commitment. You can even have your children educated online. But if this is what you know is the right path for you and your children, don't let anyone talk you out of it. It is an exceptional experience.
The experience of seeing all aspects of your children’s life is so rewarding. To see them studious as well as supportive, to be part of all the mirth and all the melancholy is more meaningful than anything I have ever done. It may be hard work but soon your sugar bowl will be fly-free and sweet as can be too.