Have you seen that post floating around social media entitled A Homeschool Confrontation in the Grocery Store? I have seen it around several places and it is a very well written post about how a homeschool mom handled a rude confrontation with a lot of grace. Many of us as homeschoolers can relate to that. I have had numerous confrontations with strangers in the grocery store, family members, and even people in my church. (I will say that on the flip side of that I have had several moments where I have braced myself for the confrontation that I was sure was coming and instead heard some very positive remarks.) This isn't just an issue that homeschool parents face from those that are against homeschooling. It's an issue that all parents face on a number of parenting issues.
Parenting Is Hard!
I know you are shocked by that comment :) Right from the very beginning we have to make choices for our children, constant decisions. It starts out with things like:
What type of carseat, crib, stroller?
Breastfeed or bottle feed?
Give the baby a pacifier or not?
Co-sleep or put the baby in a crib?
Some issues that may seem a little bigger:
Epidural or natural child birth?
Vaccinate or don't vaccinate?
If it's a boy do we circumcise?
Stay at home or daycare?
The list goes on and on and your child hasn't even been born yet!
As the child grows the decisions do not end.
TV or no TV, what kind of shows are ok?
What types of foods are the best?
Sign up for social activities (dance, sports, etc..) or not?
Electronic devices which ones are ok? How long is ok?
A bigger one:
What kind of schooling for my child?
I'd love to tell you it gets easier after that but we all know it doesn't. As they grow and get older the decisions can get harder. Friends, dating, driving, employment, college choices, and so many more. There are so many decisions to make!!!
As a parent, each of us only wants the absolute best for our children. In the course of this decision making, we don't always know what is the best. All we can do is what we think is best for our child at that point in time. Different people determine that different ways: prayer, knowledge, seeking advice from others. Often we second guess these decisions. I know I do....often. What we as parents don't need is someone else second guessing it for us.
What you think is best may not be what is best for someone else.
We get going in this parenting thing, make some decisions for our children that we think are great and sometimes we forget that what is great for us is not great for everyone. Then we become like the woman in the grocery store, being so nasty to someone just because they made a different choice then we did. It's not just non homeschoolers being less than nice to homeschoolers. Homeschoolers can be that way to non homeschoolers, and even to other homeschoolers who have a different homeschooling philosophy! The same situation can exist between working and stay at home moms, parents who choose to breastfeed and those that choose the bottle, ladies that go through natural child birth and those who get the epidural as soon as they walk through the door, parents who only feed their children organic food and those who eat ramen noodles, etc.., etc..etc.
I could write an endless post on all of the different sides of every issue that we face. But, instead lets focus on one thing:
Spend time encouraging and building up other parents rather than discouraging and beating them down because their choices are not what YOU think is best.
It's ok to disagree with other parents. It's ok for them to make different choices than you do. We need to be respectful and build them up, not beat them down. Instead of not wanting a child to attend a play group because the family doesn't homeschool, invite them. Make them feel welcome. Instead of turning your back on the mom who no longer homeschools, reach out. Call and ask her how things are going (only if you can be kind if she is having trouble), find a way to include them in things. Instead of kicking homeschoolers out of a FB group because they have a different homeschool philosophy, listen and learn from each other.
A bit of an aside: If a child comes to your house and there are things that they are not supposed to do, we need to be respectful of that. Just because Scooby Doo is ok with you it may not be with somebody else. Respect that parents choices and if you send your child off someplace and there is something that you don't want your child watching or eating, don't forget to mention it ahead of time so that they know rather than being upset later about something that happened that they didn't know :)
I know there are things that we are passionate about. Two of mine (in the parenting aspect) are homeschooling and breast feeding. I ALWAYS want to encourage people if I can. If they are seeking encouragement or have an interest in looking for information. I do NOT want to make people feel like these are the only "right" choices. But, if you find yourself in a conversation about something that you have strong opinions about and it becomes more of a confrontation then conversation, change the subject. If there are people in your life that are consistently discouraging about a particular topic, don't go to them when you need encouragement. As much as we wish everyone will be encouraging, some just will not be and you do not need that.
We as parents second guess ourselves enough. We don't need others to do it for us. We are not going to make the right decision all of the time. All we can do is the make the decisions we think are best at that time. If a decision ends up not turning out the way you think it should, give yourself some grace and encouragement. You are doing the best you can.
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called "Today," so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13