Growing up with Caribbean parents is kind of like growing up with lawyers and judges for parents. Having an actual lawyer in the house didn't help things. Whatever you do needs to be reasonable, make sense, and be logical. You have to be prepared to make your case and defend your choices at every turn. When you have extra dessert or go back for seconds, you are mentally calculating how much you've eaten that day in preparation for "oh gad gyal, yuh act like yuh nevah see food." You have to have an answer. "I missed lunch working on an assignment," or "I didn't take much the first time."
When you have kids, it gets worse. My mom was always going to know better than me, she was a pediatrician, and while she wasn't the kids' pediatrician, her classmate was. I wasn't going to win when it came to health and nutrition... but it wasn't just that, it was everything. I remember sitting on the floor when I was packing my youngest's clothes for a visit, and being so concerned that each outfit was properly coordinated... bows, tights, shoes... everything had to be just so. I didn't want to hear, "yuh have one girl child tuh dress, how does she not have everything matching?"
When I decided to homeschool, it wasn't my family who gave me problems about it. They really had no questions. They had no questions about whether or not I was qualified or patient enough. There were no side comments about what curriculum I was using, or how the kids did on testing. None of the usual, "how will they make friends?" (Truthfully, my parents never really cared about if you had friends or not.) No questions at all really. It was everyone else who had something to say, as if they weren't the ones who made their educational choices for their own kids. When you homeschool, you can feel like you have to explain yourself to others because they ask questions that they would never ask someone who has sent their kids to a public or private school.
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Can you ask them how their kids did on their standardized tests? That would be weird. Can you ask them what book their child is using for each class? Chances are they have no clue, and have no intention of finding out. Can you ask them about their kids' friends? If their kid is the one sitting alone at lunch, are you free to give them advice on how to get them "socialized?" Let me answer that for you, no.
You don't owe anyone any more of an explanation about your educational choices for your child than they owe you for theirs. So what do you do when the questions start coming? Here are five things I do when the challenges come.
1. Decide whether or not they are asking out of curiosity or to challenge my authority when it comes to my kids. Are my kids around? Have they been critical of my decisions in the past? Do they have any reason to need the information? I weigh each situation individually, and decide if I want to even be bothered.
2. Ask myself whether or not I want to talk about that WITH THEM. You know you don't HAVE to talk about anything that you don't want to talk about, right? Right. You can have a full conversation with person A about a topic, and choose not to talk to person B about it at all.
3. Point them to other resources to learn more about homeschooling. If you aren't an expert, or don't feel like being THEIR expert at the time, direct them to some of your favorite resources on the internet. I doubt they'll spend all day watching videos on homeschooling, but they might.
4. Change the subject. Again, you don't have to talk about anything that you don't want to talk about. "I teach my kids all day, not trying to talk about them all night." Boom, done.
5. Remember that you don't owe anybody a peek into your homeschooling life. You can't walk into their kids' classrooms and demand to speak to their teacher, ask to see their work, inquire about their social skills and extracurricular activities, sit in their desks, thumb through their books, or inquire about their educational trajectory or potential. They can't do that to you either.
You have taken on a huge responsibility by homeschooling your kids, and the only people you owe anything, is your kids. If you have to report your activities to your state board... then them too... but that's it.
How do you deal with people who have questions about how you have chosen to educate your kids? Are people critical of your decision to send your children to public or private school? Are they all up in your homeschooling business? Tell us how you manage the questions in the comments.