Friday, November 25, 2011

Not My Best Thanksgiving...

Well, I know it's too early for New Year's resolutions, but I'm making one anyway:  Develop a Thicker Skin.

Yesterday I had my first conversation ever about homeschooling with my dad, who I see maybe once or twice a year (Thanksgiving and/or Christmas) and the only contact we have outside of that is the occasional random comment on Facebook.  I would characterize our relationship as amicable but with a strong dose of disinterest on his part, which I have just come to accept.  Not at all surprisingly, he does not agree with our choice to homeschool our kids.  What did take me by surprise though, was the condescending and downright mean way he treated me when we discussed it.  We were at my Aunt's house, surrounded by my extended family - some of whom I barely know - and I felt very awkward and completely put on the spot.  I was already frazzled by the multiple comments of a couple elderly relatives who were complaining about un-disciplined children and how their mothers would have tanned their hides if they behaved that way, etc.  (Monkeyman and his cousin were playing and laughing and generally being 5-year olds, nothing outrageous, but I can understand how annoying the laughter of children can be when you are trying to celebrate a holiday...)  So I was ready to get outta there and was beginning the process of leaving when my dad says to Shane, "So I keep seeing Jenny make posts on Facebook about homeschooling... you guys aren't really gonna do that, are you?" and when Shane replied that yes, we were already doing it, he looked at me and asked, incredulously, "WHY would you want to do that?" Trying to keep it light, and hoping to avoid having the whole conversation just then, I laughingly said, "Because I was public schooled!"  To which he responded by launching into the standard "what about socialization/what about discipline/what about sports/they are gonna be screwed up/etc" conversation.  If you're a homeschooler you know the drill.  But it was the way he said these things that really hurt me.  As if I am just completely stupid and have no idea what I'm doing.  Every question was asked as if it were an accusation, not as an honest query by someone trying to understand a different idea or way of thinking.  And all of this open criticism of my parenting, in front of all of these people - coming from someone whose effort in parenting me was practically nil.  Also, my other (childless) aunt kept jumping into the conversation in agreement with him, in the same tone.  I felt like I did "just okay" in defending myself - I think I made a few strong points - but I know I was visibly flustered.  The final dig was when I gave up on the conversation, and I said, "Well, I have a blog where I write about all the stuff we do, if you're interested," and he just chuckled and said "No thanks!"  In other words, "I don't give enough of a shit about you or my grandchildren to learn any more about what's going on in your lives."  I responded, "Well, okay - just have an opinion but don't research or learn anything more about it then, that's fine," and that was the end of the conversation.

I was so hurt and angry I cried all the way home.  Which just pissed me off more because I let them get to me.  Which brings me back to my thicker skin resolution.  I'm shaking it off today and getting over it.  I know that people are going to be critical because we are making unconventional choices.  I know that and I'm okay with it.  It's just that you expect your own parents to have a little more respect for you, to give you the benefit of the doubt and try to see your perspective a little, and not treat you like a complete moron.  That part just really caught me off guard.


  1. I think you ended the converstation well. Some of the people againist homeschooling don't want to take the time to learn about it, they just want to make us feel bad because we aren't doing things the way they are/did. *Hugs*. Dealing with family, for me at least, is often the hardest when it comes to negative homeschooling comments.

  2. I'm so sorry you had such a rough time, Jennifer! Complete ignorance never kept anyone from having an opinion about homeschooling. I try hard not to care about the opinions of people I myself don't hold in the highest regard, but it's awfully hard to not care what our parents think of us. I wouldn't worry about what you said or didn't say- does it matter, since he wasn't really listening? Good for you for believing in your kids and doing everything to help them learn and thrive, instead of trusting that to schools it's common knowledge are broken. I bet you'll never make your sons feel that way, and when you're a grandma you'll be an awesome one.

  3. One could infer, by his treatment of the subject, that his public schooling taught him to

    1. Value being "right"--even just acting as if you're are right-- over being reasonable;
    2. Phrase your argument in the passive aggressive form of "questions" rather forming a theory and using evidence; and
    3. When you are put on the spot to account for yourself, act disdainful of the topic, the conversation, and the person YOU put on the spot initially.

    If school teaches that kind of rhetoric, I'll pass.

    People without kids-or those absent from raising kids--giving advice to parents is like nuns and priests teaching sex ed. They can only repeat what they're heard about it, not from experience.

  4. Sorry about the double "you're are" in the first point. This episode tickled my typing fingers into error...

  5. I am so sorry that you had to go through this. None of our family has been supportive of homeschooling. I was not surprised by our conservative parents, especially my public-school-teacher mother, but I was surprised when both of our childless siblings proceeded to tell us how wrong they thought we were to homeschool. My brother, the guy who was truant for most of high school and took 10 years with summer school to earn a four-year degree and hasn't worked in three years feels that public school is important! What!?!?!? Whatever, I came to terms with it years ago, but my oldest is 20. As soon as you get comfortable with it, things start coming up all over again when it is time for the kids to go to college (or to not go to college!). We've raised our kids to think outside the box and not going to college is certainly the more non-traditional, why should anyone be surprised if some or all of our kids don't go to college?!?! Yet, naysayers just see it as proof that homeschooling doesn't work. Meanwhile 40%of PS kids don't go to college - but that is not proof that PS doesn't work!


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