Aside

Crossing the Line

I recently wrote a post about why we all say homeschooling is hard: https://prayingwithoneeyeopen.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/the-real-problem-with-homeschooling/

It generated an enormous response, bigger than I could have predicted.  Most of the feedback was positive but one commenter had this to say:

Sadly, this post about homeschooling is like all the rest. There seems to be a need for homeschooling parents to simultaneously bemoan their jobs and be self congratulatory at the same time. “Homeschool is parenting on steroids?” You’re implying that homeschool parents are MORE of a parent than non homeschooling parents. You’re not parenting on steroids!!!! There is no such thing! I really wish homeschool parents would stop trying to find their self-worth in homeschooling. When that happens, you inadvertently make statements belittling those of us who don’t. Enough!!!!”

In the spirit of continuing the conversation, I’d like to ask you all what you think?  Do you think homeschoolers “cross the line” when they talk about the ways in which homeschooling is difficult?  Do you think they are self-congratulatory?  Why is it that this particular topic generates so many heated emotions but talking about, say, the difficulties of caring for aging parents or starting a home business seem to garner less intense debates?  Does this commenter have a legitimate point?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “Crossing the Line

  1. Brian says:

    I thought Maria’s reply was spot on. I would add that I don’t see any harm in deriving self-worth from anything that is important and so much time and energy is devoted to. Certainly, home schoolers have placed a value on homeschooling and there is some satisfaction from seeing the benefits of their work — as anyone would with anything they spend their time, effort and money on.

    I may have missed the point, but what should we draw upon for our self-worth? I am not really the home schooler in my family – my wife is. And I applaud her for her efforts and would defend any self-worth she gains from her work as a homeschooler. Just as I would defend any other parents’ self-worth if they, like me, work full time to support and provide for their family. I can’t distinguish any significant difference between the two.

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    • I would agree. The only thing I would add is that we have to be careful not to allow our self-worth to be wrapped up in our kids’ performance. If we do, we’re more likely to push them because of our need to feel OK. No kid likes that. But, having said that, I am happy to say that I continue to try improve in my homeschooling and I enjoy my work. It is my career and I am already receiving “bonuses” though they don’t come in the form of a paycheck.

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  2. I think what you’re getting at (or how I feel about homeschooling) is that because we are with our children day in and day out, we have more opportunities to parent and correct them. In that way, it is like parenting on steroids, because we’re just doing it 24/7, literally, and have no one else teaching our kids regularly. We don’t get a break from them 8 hours a day like public school parents. It’s a choice we made, and I think it’s totally fine for us to discuss the ramifications of that choice. We don’t go around telling public school parents to stop complaining about public school and the hardships their kids are facing there or the poor education they’re receiving or the influences in their lives, nor do we feel irritated when they boast of how much they love it and how successful it has been for their family. It’s a choice they have made, and we ought to empathize with them in their struggles, and rejoice with them in their victories. These kinds of comments just seek to further alienate people from each other. Homeschoolers can only talk to homeschoolers. Public schoolers can only talk to public schoolers. That’s not a very nice idea, I don’t think. We should all be willing to bear each others burdens, even when (especially when?) those burdens come from a choice we’ve made. It’s just wrong to say “You chose it, you deal with it, I don’t want to hear about it.” No love in that. I admit I have felt weird about talking about the difficulties associated with homeschooling for this very reason at times, and it just shouldn’t be that way.

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  3. I also agree with Brian, that we all find our self-worth in SOMETHING. Why is it so wrong for homeschooling moms to find it in the dedication to their child’s education? It is an all-consuming thing for me, a passion of mine, and I want to do well at it. My identity is ultimately in Christ, but I do draw a lot of worth out of training and teaching my kids and the relationship with them that flows out of it. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t be WORTH doing (therefore, not worth my self). I’m sorry if that inadvertently offends or makes others feel guilty, that’s not my intent. It’s perfectly fine for their self worth to be derived from work or ministry. By saying we are content and finding purpose in homeschooling is not to say there is no worth in anything else. I wish we could all just listen to each other and not compare our situation with anothers. Sigh.

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  4. I loved your post. I don’t think you were trying to pat homeschoolers on the back nor “bash” non-homeschoolers. I think you were meeting with the realities of homeschooling to provide support for homeschoolers and give a wholehearted, “keep going”. There was no spirit of pride in what you said. Instead, I believe it is a spirit of insecurity if someone feels offended by what you said. God bless you.

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  5. Thank you for this post. It has reminded me just how very insecure we humans are!!

    Oddly I viewed this in terms of other professions/ situations:
    – would we begrudge a person going for a masters or the student writing their dissertation from stating the obvious… that their chosen labor is just that, laborious? If they bemoaned the “extra” work they are putting into their schooling would we roll our eyes and say that they were ‘belittling’ our bachelor’s degree or highschool diploma?
    – how about the care givers who struggles through the day to day caring of someone with a degenerative disease or with whom they have a dysfunctional relationship? As the weight of the air around how much they do grows, do we really need to relieve the “burden” of our lack of self confidence by trying to equate our “labors” with theirs?

    The unfortunate answer is clearly we humans would and do need to ease our pretentious anxieties. The oh, so very sad part is that the most beautiful examples of our humanity are shown when we display the opposite character trait of humility: the sharing of one another’s burdens.

    I pray that I would remember this… when my insecurities push me to begrudge and belittle.
    Thank you again.

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  6. Joe says:

    Hi there, I left the original comment here and I wanted to chime back in. Looking back at my post, I was obviously upset and should have waited a second longer to press enter. All I would like for you all here to consider is that there are parents like me who deeply love their children and have chosen public school. We didn’t choose public school because we can’t afford private school, or that we haven’t the time or energy to homeschool them.

    Many of our dear friends homeschool their children and comments they make are very painful to us non-homeschoolers even though they don’t mean harm. However, beneath the comment reveals something about their heart – and something about mine. The day of the Sandy Hook massacre, one of our friends posted, “We love our kids, and this is why we homeschool.” Obviously, I was angry. I became afraid too like every parent when you leave your child anywhere. Beneath the comment my friend made was the strong emotion of fear. I know all homeschooling families don’t operate this way, but many of them do. Last week another friend posted that we should take our children out of public school if we love them because their sexual agenda is going to destroy their souls. Beneath that comment, I can see part fear and self-righteousness.

    Maybe to offer some help, here are the things that homeschool parents say that are most offensive and why:

    1.”My child homeschools because he’s too smart for public school. It holds him back.” You’re implying that all public school children aren’t as smart as your child. Or, if they are, that we shouldn’t have put them in public school. This also assumes that every public school treats fast learners the same way. Studies show however that learning things before other kids your age, doesn’t put you at any advantage later on in life.

    2. “We don’t want the government raising our kids.” I can totally understand where people are coming from on this one. However, they’re implying that all parents who send their kids to public school really enjoy that 8 hour break when their kids are being raised by someone else, pumping their morals and agendas into them. That is not every parent and that is not every school. They’re implying that we’re lazy and don’t care about our kids. However, thoughtful parents who send their kids to public school have to cram parenting into those 5 hours before bedtime, processing and assimilating all of the things learned that day. Now, that feels like parenting on steroids for us because we have less time to do the same job of raising our kids.

    3. “We don’t want to expose our innocent children to the evil in the world.” This one concerns me because I feel we have a duty as christian parents to make sure our children understand their culture. If we don’t, their christian faith won’t last when confronted with it later. Many of my friends have lost their faith. Many of my adult homeschool friends were involved in drugs, premarital-sex, and underage drinking. I attended private christian school because my parents were afraid of public school, and I saw all the same things. We live in an evil world. Public school is a great way to teach how God needed to save us.

    Hannah, so sorry I didn’t just post this the first time – you’re very kind in your tone in response to my hasty post – any advice in dealing with my own inadequacies regarding my attitude towards homeschool parents is appreciated.

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    • I understand where you’re coming from, I think. My oldest spent some time in public school. I don’t think I’ve ever said any of the above to any parent of public school kids and I don’t think my friends have either. But it would be hurtful to hear those things! For what it’s worth, my husband teaches at one of our local high schools, my mother teaches at an elementary school in our town, as does my father. Both of my grandparents were public school teachers and so was my mother-in-law. If I said those types of things, I would get a lot of correction! Homeschoolers believe they are doing the best thing for their kids and they are entitled to their choices. Of course public school parents believe the same thing. The main thing is, we are all too thin-skinned. The internet seems to make this worse. We all need to assume the BEST motives out of one another unless proven otherwise. Blessings to you and yours.

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    • Thank you for sharing these thoughts. I would love to read #4,5,6, etc! I am new to homeschooling and my kids have been in public school until this year (and my husband is a public school teacher). I can really relate to what you’re saying, although I’m on the other ‘side’ of the conversation now. I feel a lot of tension when I’m talking school stuff to parents who have their kids in public schools. I think the way you framed your thoughts is very helpful for homeschooling parents to read. It is so important to hear how our words are falling on others.

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