Have you ever had someone ask you a question that was very rude…but it was asked in a really innocent and kind way?
It can be rather shocking. And sadly it happens to me on the regular as a homeschool mom.
Sometimes I find myself tongue-tied and don’t even know how to respond.
Well, that’s not entirely true.
I can find all kinds of rude things to say back, but I usually swallow them, smile, and attempt to respond with kindness (because my kids are usually watching).
I often wish I could go back in time and say, “You may not know this, but that was really rude. How would you feel if I said…”
But then I think, “Well, they didn’t mean to be rude. I’ll just brush it off.” But their comment or question still burns.
How can I get people to stop saying these infuriating things?!
And then one day, I remembered that I have a blog.
A giant soapbox I can get on to address the world.
If you are a “non-homeschooler,” please come close and listen to what I have to say.
For the sake of all homeschooling mom out there, take it in, apply it to your conversations, and tell others.
What Not to Say to Homeschool Moms
If you do not homeschool your kids, there is a good chance you have asked some questions or made some comments that a homeschool mom didn’t appreciate.
I have a really good feeling that you didn’t mean to offend in any way. You were probably genuinely curious or honestly trying to help with what you said.
The homeschool mom probably took it in stride and you left the conversation having no idea you had hurt her feelings or frustrated her.
What did I say?
Homeschool moms are used to having all kinds of questions and comments thrown at them from total strangers to well meaning friends and family. Deep down, all homeschool moms want the same treatment that public school moms enjoy.
Every homeschool mom wishes you would stop asking loaded questions about their decision to homeschool. Loaded questions you would likely never dream of asking a public school mom.
Let me provide some examples from my life to explain my point.
1. “How much longer are you going to homeschool?”
I had a neighbor chatting with me at the park the other day. She is a high school teacher and her daughters attend the local public school.
Out of nowhere she said, “So, are you going to keep homeschooling when the girls get to high school?”
On its face, that might not sound like a terrible question. But the translation (including her body language) said, “What you’re doing is kind of cute, but high school is serious. Are you really going to gamble like that with their education?”
I stumbled over a response because I was so surprised by the question. How would she have felt if I suddenly asked, “Hmmm, are you going to keep your kids in public school when they hit high school?”
Or how about, “How much longer are you planning to work outside the home?”
Think of how awkward it would be to answer those questions. Both are laced with judgmental undertones. She would likely feel as though I disagree with her life decisions and be really offended.
That’s how homeschool moms feel when you ask them how long they’re going to homeschool! This is our life choice and it is not polite to discuss it in that way.
More appropriate comments would be: “Wow, I don’t know anything about homeschooling. What is a normal day like for you?” or “I don’t know anything about homeschooling. What is your favorite thing about it?”
2. “This is what you should be doing”
(So this is not a question exactly, but the principle is even more important in this case.)
Another neighbor of mine has two young children and works as a real estate agent.
She and I met up for a playdate one morning and started having a nice chat. I spent some time encouraging her about her new career and listening intently to how well preschool was going for her oldest son.
I chose to share that I don’t know what career path I’ll choose in the future. Homeschooling is going very well and I have my hands full with that for quite a few more years.
She then said, “I really think you need to put them in school.” I felt like she’d slapped me in the face as she started to list all the benefits of public school.
As I type this, I am still angry about the sharp comments she made in front of my children that were meant to be “helpful.”
How would she feel if I decided to start making suggestions about her choices?
“I really think you going back to work with your baby just being born is not the right choice. You really need to stop handing him off to someone else to take care of him. There are so many benefits when the mom stays home.”
“I know you think preschool is a good idea for your older son, but you’re just throwing away money on an expensive playdate with crafts.”
Okay fine, one more, “You should really look into homeschooling your kids. You are handicapping them by your intention to send them out to substandard public schools. They will never learn to think freely and critically in that factory environment. There are so many benefits when you homeschool.”
Are you following me? When the tables are flipped, it is considered extremely rude to say things like that. I would never even dream of saying things like to another woman – it is so unspeakably self-righteous and egotistical! I cringed as I was typing it out!
Who am I to question or judge another woman’s decisions?
But for some reason, other people think that their comments about how a woman should educate her child are okay because they are just trying to help. They are actually very rude and hurtful.
More appropriate comments would be, “I don’t know anything about homeschooling. Could you tell me more about it?” or “I don’t know anything about homeschooling, but I really respect the decision you made. Could you share with me what made you decide to start homeschooling?”
3. “Aren’t you concerned about…?
I have been asked all kinds of questions about the “concerns” of homeschooling. The most popular would be:
“Aren’t you concerned about the socialization issue?”
“Aren’t you concerned they won’t be able to play sports?”
“Aren’t you concerned they might fall behind?”
These rude questions force a homeschool mom to awkwardly validate her lifestyle to a stranger. And it usually happens with her kids standing next to her.
Imagine if I asked a mom (with her kids standing next to her) these questions:
“Aren’t you concerned about the failing education system your child is enrolled in? All I hear about is that it needs reform, but no one can agree on what to do about it.”
“Aren’t you concerned about your kid being socialized by a generation marked by excessive bullying, sexting, active shooters, and kids who took the Tide Pod challenge?”
“Aren’t you concerned about your kid’s teacher being distracted by the 24 other kids in her class and missing your child’s individual needs?”
“Aren’t you concerned about the excessive amount of time your kid is at school every day doing busy work and not getting enough exercise outside?”
Pretty rude, right? Judgmental? Unkind? Those questions show some of the reasons I decided to homeschool, but I would never dream of asking a public school mom any of them!
I respect her choice and trust she made the best decision for her family. She doesn’t need me questioning her about anything.
All homeschool moms would love to be afforded the same respect and not have to continuously be answering loaded questions about our decisions.
More appropriate comments would be, “I don’t know anything about homeschooling, but I think it’s so cool you’re going for it with your kids! What’s been the biggest benefit to your family so far?” or “I don’t know anything about homeschooling. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about it?”
Recap What Not to Say to a Homeschool Mom
Every homeschool mom I have ever met has spent countless hours weighing their decision, reading statistics and research, painstakingly ordering expensive curriculum, and making countless sacrifices to make homeschooling possible. She has got this!
There is no chance she has not thought and rethought every issue you can come up with. She just chose differently than you and that is okay.
Again, the most important thing you can do is flip your comment back on yourself and imagine how it would feel to be talked to that way. If you find yourself tongue tied in front of a homeschool mom because you can’t decide what to say, change the subject – you are in a danger zone.
The next thing you can do is get the word out! Share this post to at least one (if not all!) of your social media platforms and help people realize what they are saying.
My greatest hope is that one tired homeschool mom would be spared another question because someone read this post.
Homeschools moms across the world thank you!