Have You Heard This Before?
Have you ever met a veteran homeschooling mom who, right after she tells you how many years she has on her "homeschool mom punch card", gives you the litany list of each of her children's' accomplishments? It sounds something like this...
"Well, my Gilbert studied at Oxford and now teaches full time at Hillsdale, has completed seven Iron Man competitions and just finished completing his goal to visit to every country in the world before he turned thirty. Agatha got married at twenty after getting a double degree in Ancient Languages and Bible and now has six children under age five and has four published books. And our Louisa May is finishing up her three doctorate degrees in Fine Arts, Turkish archaeology and Folklore, but her real passion is her online clothing business empire!"
This is hyperbole, obviously, but it happens all the time! Try it sometime when you meet a mom with homeschool graduates. The reason for this phenomenon in the homeschooling culture at large is much deeper than just connection.
It is the pressure to prove yourself.
You hear it in the veteran's stories, but you hear it in the brand new homeschooling parents as well. There is a culture around homeschooling where parents feel an innate need to prove themselves--that they can do the job and do it well. Whether it is in conversation with your neighbor, your dentist, your in-laws or even to fellow homeschool moms the feeling that we need to defend, prove, justify or qualify ourselves is hard to escape.
Where Does This Pressure Come From?
Hearing the stories from homeschooling pioneers is incredible. What men and women did in every state at a legal level to make homeschooling available for families is something I will forever be grateful for.
From the Amish communities and Nuns who fought against state-mandated schooling, to the Hippies and the Fundamentalists that laid a groundwork for homeschooling resources, methods, models and ideas--there is a wealth of wisdom and stories to hear. These people went through the wringer to pave this path!
Whenever you go against the normal culture and flow of things you will have people who question and oppose you. This is why there is such a deep-rooted feeling in the homeschool community that parents must defend their decision and prove themselves.
For generations, homeschooling parents have had to educate those around them about what homeschooling is, and have had to defend themselves to family, friends and the government.
I'm so thankful for the people that went before me, but I also want to recognize that it is not 1987 anymore... or even 2007 anymore! We don't have to defend, explain or prove ourselves as home educators. Did you know that there are now over 5 million families homeschooling in the United States? If 2020 gave us anything, it was a greater knowledge and connection to homeschooling from the general population.
How Can We Change This?
Whether you're experiencing this pressure from outside yourself or even inside yourself, we don't want to pass this pressure on to our children or to the homeschooling families that come after us! What can we do to change this in our lives and in the homeschooling culture at large?
1. Don't brag about your child's accomplishments, especially when they are present! This puts an extreme amount of pressure on our children to succeed in a way that we define as successful or in a way that validates the things we've given up for this lifestyle. Their successes or failures do not define how "good" of a job we've done as a home educator.
2. Don't compare your child. Not to your other children. Not to family or friends who educate differently. Not to your own expectations. Comparison is the thief of joy in our homeschool. Let's enjoy our children for exactly who they are and shepherd and love them to the best of our ability.
3. Reframe how you view homeschooling. Homeschooling does not guarantee an outcome for our children. Homeschooling is just an alternative method of education. That's all. Even if we come into it with the best intentions that does not mean our children will turn out a certain way.
4. Find confidence in your decision. Feeling like you need to prove yourself or defend your decision to homeschool can come mainly from insecurity. If you can feel confident in the reasons why you chose this path, you will feel less like you need to justify to random strangers or loved ones.
We Don't Have To Carry on This Part of The Homeschooling Legacy
We all struggle with insecurity from time to time, but we don't have to repeat this phenomenon in the homeschool parent culture. We can walk in freedom we have: the freedom to educate how we see fit and be confident in that decision, the freedom to let our children be exactly who they are, no matter how they turn out and the freedom to not define our failure or success based on someone else's standard!
As A Christian Homeschool Mom
As a believer in Christ, I am first and foremost accountable to the Lord for how we raise our children and the choices we make. I can't take on my children's accomplishments as the jewels in my crown, otherwise, I will wear their failures as my own too.
Charlotte Mason talks about children as being "born persons". Whole people. They are responsible and accountable for their own decisions, and I am accountable for my own as well.
So, with the Lord, I need to be asking the questions, "Am I being obedient? Am I parenting with the Holy Spirit and listening to your leading?" If I can faithfully say yes, then I don't have to feel pressured. I can stand before anyone who questions our decision and feel confident, knowing that we're walking in the way God laid out for our family in this time and place.
I hope you feel that confidence too and that together we can take the pressure off!