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10 Helpful (& Fun) Replies to Anti-Homeschooling Comments - Mary Ellen Barrett

10 Helpful (& Fun) Replies to Anti-Homeschooling Comments


Use the anti-homeschooling comments, made to make you feel bad about your decision, as opportunities to show you are sure and unwavering in your commitment.
Many of us are familiar with the looks of horror on people’s faces when they discover that you homeschool.

It can be disconcerting to feel like you are constantly defending yourself to people, some of whose opinions matter to you and some you don’t care a fig about. The remarks one hears range from silly to insulting.

I’m not referring to those who ask in a real effort to understand, or who are simply interested and curious about something unfamiliar, rather those who just want to make you feel badly about your decision.

I’ve been at this homeschooling lifestyle thing for a while now. I have been subjected to many such questions and statements, so I’d like to share with you some retorts that may help bring these conversations to a speedier conclusion.

1. Homeschooling? Is that even legal?

The real reply is that, yes, of course it is legal in all fifty states. Homeschooling, thanks to some brave mothers and fathers, Dr. Mary Kay Clark among them, is legal and even commonplace in the United States.

The sillier reply could be, “Why yes it is, I gave up living outside the law several years ago. ” Let them make of that what they will.

2. Aren’t you concerned that your children will have no friends; what about socialization?

That this question continues to be asked astonishes me. Study after study shows homeschooled children do as well or better in social situations than children who attend brick and mortar schools.

The retort I have found most helpful is, “I’d be delighted to have you drive my children to their various social and educational activities during the week. You will have to keep the hours from 3:00pm until 8:00pm free, but I’m sure it will put your mind to rest as to their social development.”

3. You must be so patient.

I have a little secret to tell you. I lack patience. I lack it so much that it comes up quite often in the confessional. To those who try to put you on some kind of patience pedestal only to look for signs you are slipping off, an excellent reply is “I have more patience for my own children than I would have for thirty children in a classroom.”

That usually stops the conversation.

4. Your children will know nothing of the world or of pop culture.

When this has been said to me, as if it is a bad thing that rap music isn’t part of my household, I am often taken aback. Your reply to this silly question can simply be, “Which R-rated movie would you suggest my ten year old see to bring him up to speed?”

5. How will you teach calculus?

I still get asked this in spite of having launched one child into college and having another one ready to go next year. Clearly they are learning everything they need. I was first asked this question when my eldest, who has special needs, was in third grade and I have to say that calculus was not my foremost concern.

When people ask what I am going to do about calculus, ancient Greek or organic chemistry I generally say, “Well, I thought I might ask you to tutor them. After all, you went to public school so you must be qualified.”

6. What about the prom? How can you deny your child a prom?

Sigh. Making a life changing decision about how your child should be educated based upon an overpriced, overhyped dance seems silly to me but it comes up pretty often. The fact is many homeschool groups hold proms for their high school kids because if a homeschooled kid wants a prom, he/she will plan and execute one with a little guidance from an adult. Homeschooled kids are like that; they get stuff done.

7. I could never homeschool; I want my kids to have a life.

You want them to have a life so you lock them in the same room everyday with the same twenty-five people listening to the same person day after day, whereas my children are out in the world, meeting people, taking classes and having the freedom to try new things. Tell me again, who is lacking life experiences?

8. Why would you want your kids around all day, don’t they drive you crazy?

Here’s the thing, I actually like my kids. I’m glad I have them. They are funny and smart and their presence fills me with joy and gratitude.

That’s not to say that they don’t drive me crazy sometimes but so do people who ask silly questions.

9. How will your children learn how to line up?

I’m not kidding. This is a real question homeschool mothers get asked. It seems to stem from some kind of post cafeteria stress syndrome people have.

The response, of course, is to call your children to you and ask them to line up. It’s easier for certain people to have a visual. Then laugh. Seriously, laugh your head off.

10. What is your child going to do for a high school diploma?

Well, if my kid graduates with Seton, then they get an accredited diploma. Otherwise, they’re going to work hard and fulfill all of the requirements.

Then I am going to do what high schools all over America do: print one off of the computer, put it in a fancy folder and hand it to the graduate. There will be more hoopla involved but you get the idea.

These mostly tongue in cheek replies are meant to give you a jumping off point to reply to the various things people will say to you.

The point is to not let anyone question your motives or desire to homeschool your children, but rather, let them know that you are equal to the task and unwavering in your commitment.

And if you can get a giggle out of it, why not?

About Mary Ellen Barrett

Mother of seven children and two in heaven, Mary is wife to David and a lifelong New Yorker. She has homeschooled her children for eleven years using Seton and an enormous amount of books. She is a columnist for The Long Island Catholic and blogs here . Meet Mary Ellen.
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