Unexpected Things About Homeschooled Teens

I was a great mom of teens before I had teens.

I read all of the homeschooling literature. I was sure that my teens and I would discuss interesting literature and history. We’d do science experiments together. They would work in their math books, reading lesson after lesson, and somehow, the intricacies of algebra, geometry, and trig would be grasped. They would help their siblings with school work and perform much of the housework for me.

That was before I had teens.

I’ve been surprised by many things in my life, but many of the biggest surprises have been the way real life goes down with homeschooled teens. I’m sure parents with their kids in conventional schools have many surprises, but because I’d read all the “right” books and because I was homeschooling, I was sure that my kids’ experiences as teens would be different.

Here are several of the biggest surprises that I encountered in homeschooling my teens.

  1. They often develop just like typical teens.

I was certain that teenagerhood was just something created by society to excuse bad behavior and poor parenting. All of the conservative Christian homeschooling literature talked about how helpful and cheerful their kids were. How motivated the young people were to do chores and help with siblings. I was shocked when my kids displayed moodiness and bad attitudes because “they’re homeschooled!”

The teen years are not an excuse to let your kids get by with bad attitudes, but don’t be surprised when these things crop up. Teens are trying to figure out their place in the world. They’re learning about love and friendship. They’re dealing with strange feelings toward the opposite sex and figuring out how to make their own way in the world. Some days they can’t wait to grow up and other days they wish parents had never been invented.  Teens are dealing with all of this conflict using very immature, inexperienced brains along with huge rushes of hormones.

Homeschooled teens have just as many bad days as traditionally schooled teens, so there’s nothing wrong with your family. Deal with the attitudes in a compassionate loving way and don’t smother your kids under the expectations that they will never have those rotten times.

2. Homeschooled teens teach themselves all their lessons.

I can’t believe I fell for this homeschooling myth. There are many smart homeschooled kids who do teach themselves chemistry, algebra, and calculus. However, there are just as many who need a little–or a LOT–of hand holding and direction in their lessons.

This concept scares many homeschooling parents (myself included) because their math skills may be a little shaky. I’ve seen these nervous parents dump the responsibility for learning these lessons into the laps of teens, saying that “People can teach themselves anything if they really want to.”

Of course, this is true. But most homeschooled teens don’t really WANT to learn these difficult subjects. If left to themselves, they’d rather do anything else than struggle alone through lesson after lesson of upper level math. These kids are aching for a teacher to come alongside them to teach them what they need to know.

I’ve dropped the ball far too many times in this department. It isn’t fair to my kids to just glibly tell them to figure it out. On my better days, my kid and I spend time together looking up website after website, lesson after lesson until the two of us figure out how it is done.

It IS hard. But it’s the right thing to do. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with my kids when they ask me to do what I signed up to do when I decided to homeschool them. They’re asking for a teacher. I can either do it myself, or find one for them.

If I want them to have an excellent education. I am going to have to make that happen.

3. Homeschooled teens need friends.

I read all the books that said that homeschooled teens love hanging out with their families and siblings more than anyone else. Don’t get me wrong, my family enjoys spending time together, but around the age of 12 or 13, my kids really longed to step away from the family a bit and make friends with their peers.

This was tricky for me because I read the books that said that my kids should be best friends with their siblings.

But, it’s developmentally normal. I had to step it up socially for my teens. And, yes, as an introvert, it was very, very challenging. But it was SO important.

My kids have the best group of friends. I love these teens so much, and I am so glad that my kids have this peer group. In fact, their concept of friendship is so much healthier than mine was as a teen.

I figured out that I saw teen friendships through the lens that I had developed as a teenager–teens that encouraged one another to develop poor attitudes and to do wrong things. In reality, teens can have healthy friendships that spur one another toward growth, spiritually and emotionally.  I’ve seen it happen in my kitchen every time their group gets together.

The energy that I expended making these relationships happen has been so worth it.

Teens do need friendships. I’ve learned to encourage the healthy ones, making them a priority, and talk, talk, talk to my kids so they know what healthy friendships look like. This helps them spot unhealthy relationships and manage the challenges relating to needy or unhealthy people.

4. Homeschooled teens need just as much prodding to get things done.

There are many tales of homeschooled teens who happily do their chores, their schoolwork, and start home businesses.

In my 15 years of homeschooling, I’ve never met one of these homeschooled kids. I am sure they exist somewhere, but most of the kids that I know…are just like mine. They’ll leave their shoes laying around, have to be told to do the chores that they do every single stupid day, and need external motivation to get their schoolwork done every day.

That’s normal teen behavior. They do grow out of it. At least, I’m told that they do. The jury is still out on my kids.

The teen years are hard but they’re not impossible. Just remember that kids are kids everywhere and don’t hold yours to an impossible standard just because they are homeschooled.


What makes a good Mommy?

It is interesting to see how people define what makes a good mom.

A good mom cooks three meals from scratch each day.

A good mom breastfeeds each infant until they self-wean.

A good mom co-sleeps with her babies and never lets them cry.

A good mom homeschools all of her kids all the way through high school and gives them ALL a stellar education.

A good mom does crafts with her children, creating lovely works of art with them.

A good mom stays slim, exercises an hour a day, (with baby in a backpack) and does it cheerfully.

A good mom…..

Fill in the blank.

We all have these ideas in our heads about what it takes to be a good mom. We put so much pressure on ourselves to perform at ridiculous levels.

We worry that our children will be overweight if we don’t cook them a tasty, nutritious dinner each night and have them in 2 sports every season.

We worry that our kids will flunk out of college and live in our basements for the rest of their lives if we don’t kill ourselves teaching them algebra in the fifth grade.

We worry that our colicky babies will grow up damaged if we gently set them in a crib alone for 5 minutes so we can go to the bathroom and get a grip on our emotions.

Where do these expectations come from?

It seems that moms are really hard on themselves these days. Perhaps it’s the Pinterest/Facebook generation. But for whatever reason, we feel that we have to prove to ourselves, to our kids, to the world that we are good moms.

Here’s the truth of it. Here’s how to be a good mom.

Do the best you can.

Love your kids.

Listen to them.

Don’t let idealogy and parenting experts run your home.

Do what’s best for your kids and your family.

And most of all.

Pray. Read the Word. And trust Him “who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” (Jude 24)

Don’t let unrealistic expectations rob you of the joy of motherhood. Parenting is easier than you think.


Rude Kids? Grumpy Kids? It’s Okay!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten so down because of my kids’ behavior. Despite my best efforts, I look at my kids and they don’t look anything like the kids that I’d imagined I’d have.

They’re bickering and fussing.

They’re rude. They call each other hateful, ugly names.

Even though I’ve nagged and griped, their socks are still in the floor, they burp at the table, and they hate to share their stuff.

I think, “What kind of a mom am I? Why can’t I do something about these kids?”

After all, I’ve been in this job for years. And even though I’ve been consistent, bordering on rigid in trying to instill basic decency in my kids, sometimes, I look at them in exasperation.

My exasperation turns inward, and I wonder how badly I am ruining my kids.

This is pretty common. It’s too easy to believe the lie that good kids are made by good parents. You see polite well-mannered kids in public and think that the other moms know something that you don’t. Their kids don’t whine and cry. Their kids don’t call each other names like “booger lips” and “poop face.”

Let me tell you a secret.

Even the very best families have their moments. The moments when their kids are mean, hateful, unkind, selfish, and rude.

Some kids take correction better than others. Others can be a bit defensive and argue with you about everything.

Some kids are naturally more compliant than others. Other kids have more defiant natures.

Some kids are more empathetic and others are more naturally self-centered.

Some kids are better at picking up social cues and others have to be explicitly told things like “For the fifth time today, will you PLEASE get your hand out of your pants!”

Just like some kids are neater and others are sloppy, personalities are a huge part of how your kids behave and how they treat one another. None of them are born automatically knowing how to resolve conflict, treat one another fairly, and be polite.

It’s all too easy to look to the future and imagine your son calling his children hateful names and your daughter screaming and slamming doors when angry. And then you jump to, “It’s all my fault!”

Take heart, dear mama. Your kids don’t misbehave because of you. They don’t say horrible things, shove their siblings, tease, pass gas at the table, mess up the house, and argue because you can’t get through to them.

They do these things because they are kids. And this is how most kids act from time to time. Had Jesus himself raised children, he would have dealt with many of these same behaviors.

I have a few pieces of advice for you if you’re feeling like an utter failure in training your children.

First, don’t take it personally.  They aren’t out to get you and their behavior is most likely not a reflection of your parenting skills. It’s just kid stuff. And so often the bad behavior is just a reflection of their sin nature combined with immaturity.

Second, do your best. I’m not telling you to quit trying or to ignore bad behavior. Just hang in there, be consistent, firm and kind, and keep going.

Third, don’t draw conclusions about the future based upon today’s misbehavior. This will suck you into a weird place that you don’t want to be. You will panic, thinking that everything has to be fixed right NOW!

Fourth, read a few parenting books if there are particular behaviors that are troubling. But don’t get all caught up into one parenting philosophy that says “You have to parent this way.” or “Your children will only serve the Lord if you parent like this.” Remember that there are no guarantees in parenting. Better yet, talk to parents who have well behaved children, especially if they are older than yours. Ask them what they did about fighting, drama, undone chores, or tantrums. Always be flexible and go into these conversations looking for ideas rather than a magic bullet to “fix” your children.

Sometimes parenting is discouraging. But stay the course and remember that you can do this!

Well Trained Mind Seminar—Slideshow Link

Today, I presented my seminar “Teaching ‘Ramona Quimby:’ Homeschooling the Intense Child.” I presented a slideshow along with my lecture. If you are interested, here is the link to it. I hope that the seminar went well. It’s hard to judge when you are presenting online whether or not you are boring people to death. I hope that it was somewhat helpful to those who are in the trenches with their intense, challenging, argumentative kids.

The Conflict–Taking a Break Without Dropping the Ball

“It’s a season.”

I’ve heard these words spoken to many homeschooling moms to encourage them when they are dealing with a difficult time period. I understand the heart behind them. Moms who have been there are trying to encourage a very discouraged sister by telling her to let some things go for a time. You don’t have to put the kids in school every time there is a disaster in your life.

I get that. And for many homeschooling moms, they need to hear it. They need to know that they can back away from formal academics for a few weeks without hurting their kids.

However, some homeschoolers use the “season” mentality as an excuse to not do school for months.

I get it.

That baby just won’t sleep. Mamas get sick, and finances get tight. However, your crazy season should not be a justification for not doing school for long periods of time. Your children deserve a good education. It doesn’t always have to be an amazing education, because sometimes good enough needs to be good enough.

But for heaven’s sake. Just. Do. Something!

It may look different in different seasons. And that’s okay.

You may take a break from textbooks and instead focus on library books, field trips, and educational video games and DVDs.

That’s fine.

However, if in your season of craziness, your children fill their time with nothing but MarioKart, Facebook, and Looney Tunes for weeks, you probably need to figure out a new plan.

There’s nothing wrong with taking time off. But be intentional with your time off. You have to make it up at some point. You can’t take off two months in your normal school year and still be able to take a summer break. If you take off a month at Christmas, you may not need to take a spring break. Look at your schedule and plan your time off so that it is most effective for learning and for resting.

Another thing, when you do take time off, try to fill your children’s time with things of value. Outdoor play, gardening, crafts, puzzles, cooking, writing letters, visiting family. Then hit the books hard (whatever style of homeschooling you do) when you get back from your time off. By keeping the electronic beast at bay when you take a break and by giving your children with brain-boosting activities to fill their time, getting back to a normal routine will be much simpler.

Remember that as Christian homeschooling moms we are stewards of our children’s future. I don’t want my children handicapped by my own lack of discipline. (this is why I tend toward textbooks. I don’t have the discipline to sit down and work out individual lesson plans for my kids. If you’re great at that: WONDERFUL! I wish I could do the same) I know how hard it is to continue working when you’re exhausted, distracted by difficult circumstances, or dealing with some kind of life upheaval. But you can’t just stop for weeks and months. Your kids need the routine of learning and your household needs the rhythm of normal educational opportunities. Additionally, getting too far behind in the middle school and high school years can be quite difficult to make up.

When I am dealing with a chaotic time period in my life, I remind myself that I need to prioritize. Sometimes, the priority is dealing with the chaotic situation. However, when the situation goes on for more than a week or two, I have to figure out how to meet my kids educational needs in the chaos. Sometimes this looks like us doing math, English, and spelling in the car while driving to appointments. Sometimes, this means that my family shifts responsibilities around to make time for schooling at unconventional times of day. Whatever I need to do, I do it.

God has called me into homeschooling. I am not bringing glory to Him when I use life’s circumstances as an excuse to avoid my responsibilities. I won’t bring glory to him by failing to prepare my kids for the future. If God chose to call me to heaven tomorrow and my children had to enter a traditional classroom, would they be prepared? If I haven’t done my job with diligence and faithfulness, I will not be bringing God glory. I will be hurting the cause of Christ because others will judge me by my laziness and the hurt that it would cause my children. Not to mention the hurt that my poor teaching brings to the reputation of those in the homeschooling community.

Are you facing a time of struggle in your life? It will be okay. However, don’t let the circumstances permanently derail you from your normal school routines in the long term. Take stock of what will work with your given situation and figure out a way to learn through the chaos. Don’t beat yourself up over what your children don’t accomplish. But, be sure that you figure out a way for them to learn SOMETHING in this time period.

Matthew 24:44

“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

Raising Your Challenging Child: Rejecting Formulaic Mindsets

In raising my challenging child, I’ve had to learn a new way of parenting. Many typical parenting techniques just won’t work for my challenging kid. One of the biggest difficulties for me in this parenting journey has been tweaking my parenting for this kid.

Setting up punishments and rewards just didn’t work for my daughter. When she decided what she wanted to do, she’d do it. If she didn’t agree with a rule, even if I explained the reason, she felt that she didn’t have to follow it.

I felt like a failure. My daughter was “rebellious” “willful” and “hard-headed.” I thought, wrongly, “If I would just spank her harder, punish her more, be more consistent, she would become a compliant, obedient child.” I completely bought the lie that creating a “good” kid was simply a matter of following the magical formula. “Good” mothers follow the formula, the kids fall in line, and everything is magically wonderful. “Bad” mothers have disobedient, rebellious, angry kids.

After all, that verse in the Bible says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

I had to change my thinking in several ways. First, I had to realize that the above verse is not necessarily a promise from God. Much of Proverbs is observations about the human status.

This verse from Proverbs is a generalization. As adults, it IS hard to completely reject our raising. However, if a child from a violent, angry home can become a good, productive, Christian adult, then I believe the reverse can be true. Kids from good, Christian homes CAN reject their parents’ faith. A child’s behavior is not always reflection of how good of a parent someone is or was. It’s scary to think that I can pour good stuff into my kids and have them totally reject God. However, that fact also keeps me on my knees each day in prayer for my kids. I can’t make the decision for them. There IS no magic bullet that guarantees that my children will follow God as adults.

Another way I had to change my thinking is in the belief that my child’s behavior at age 3 or 8 or 14 is a reflection of who she will become as an adult. Kids go through some really rotten phases. Just because a child is a pain in the neck at age 5 doesn’t mean that he or she will grow up to be a selfish bum. Children go through phases of frustrating behaviors. And then they grow out of them. Do the best you can to work through the hard times and let maturity and God make your child into who he will become.

The last way that I had to adjust my mindset is in my thinking that it was all up to me. God can work a huge miracle in the heart of my willful, inflexible child. I need to let God use me to gently lead my child to Him and allow God to make the changes. Honestly, I can’t do the work of the Holy Spirit for Him. Sometimes, I need to control what I can control, set limits, give consequences, and allow God to change my daughter’s heart.

In the end, a change of heart is really the only thing that will change my daughter’s behavior and attitude anyway.

Ezekiel 36:26 says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

When I changed my thinking about parenting, especially in regards to my challenging child, parenting got much easier. Not because my daughter was transformed, but because I ceased taking my daughter’s personality and bad behavior so personally. I stopped seeing her argumentativeness, moodiness, and disobedience as evidence that I was a bad mother. It was easier to look objectively at situations because my feelings were less wrapped up in my daughter’s behavior.

Do you have a challenging child? Have you had to change your thinking with regards to parenting?

Raising Your Challenging Child: What is a Challenging Child?

I’ve posted quite a bit about my challenging child.

There have been many labels for this type of personality.

Dobson called this style “strong willed”

Others call it “spiritied. ”

Deep in the back of my head, I have other names for her personality:




I try not to dwell on those negative labels. I have a hard enough time being positive about this child without reinforcing my negativity.

So I just call her “challenging.”


I’ve conversed with other mothers with challenging children of their own.

The following are several common characteristics to these kids :


This is the best word that I can think of for my daughter. Everything that she does she does intensely. She “feels” things to a greater degree than many other people. She cares deeply about many things, and many things are worth a big, ugly stink. There is no middle ground with my daughter. She either cares passionately about something or she is totally uninterested in it. My mother described her as being: “wound up tight.”


Challenging kids have a very hard time giving ground. Once they get their minds set on something, you’d better just look out. They don’t like change and they have a hard time looking at things differently.

Challenging children often struggle with change and transitions because they are so inflexible.


Challenging kids know exactly what they want and it takes an act of Congress to divert them from their goals. These are the kids who consider the consequences of their actions, (maybe a punishment) consider what they want to do,  and decide that they will simply take the punishment rather than obey what an authority figure asks.

Parents of these kinds of kids get very frustrated when well-meaning advisers tell them to “distract” their toddlers from tantrums and forbidden objects. For a challenging child who really knows what they want, there is NO distraction.


I’m mentioning confidence because it sounds more positive than this trait sometimes comes across. These kids have SO much confidence that they can border on arrogance. They don’t see themselves as kids. They take themselves very seriously. They don’t understand why adults should have more privileges than they do or why they should listen to an adult.

They have extremely inaccurate views of their own opinions, viewpoints, and knowledge. They can come across as haughty and imperious to adults when they correct, advise, or instruct adults.

Lack Self-Awareness

Challenging kids frequently have no idea how they are perceived by others. They may have a hard time realizing when other kids or their parents are getting frustrated by their behavior.  (of course, there are disorders like Asperger’s where this is quite pronounced. Challenging children are simply so wrapped up in their own views, thoughts, and feelings that they don’t pay attention to simple things.) Challenging children don’t understand that their own behavior alienates people that they care about.


Challenging kids often see the world rather negatively. They often struggle with moodiness and grumpy is often their baseline mood.  One bad thing can ruin a whole day. A child may have a fairly nice day, but report at bedtime that it was rotten day because they fell and skinned their knee at 10 in the morning.

Black and White Thinking–Perfectionism

Many challenging children  struggle with perfectionism. They have high standards for themselves and others, and if things don’t go 100% the way that they believe it should go, the day is ruined. School is often difficult because challenging children see struggle as a bad thing. They seem to feel that if they don’t do things perfectly the first time it is a reflection on their intelligence.  Many mothers of challenging children report that their kids moan that they are “stupid” if school is difficult at all.


While many of these traits can be negative in a small child or a teen, they will benefit the child in adulthood. These kids will be great leaders. However, they are not easy kids.

I am far from an expert in parenting. However, my challenging child is almost 17 years old. I’ve learned so much along the way, most of it from trial and error.

Parents of these challenging kids have a special task before them if they are to try to homeschool. Challenging kids take a tremendous amount of energy, consistency, and a special dose of parenting wisdom.  My hope is that I can share with other parents who are facing their own challenging child some of the things that I’ve learned in the past 17 years.

In the coming weeks, I plan to share some of the tips and tricks that I’ve had use in raising my daughter.

Raising a challenging child is not easy. However, if you have one, I want to encourage you. God gave you that child for a reason. He will use all kinds of situations to draw you closer to Him, and I’ve seen personally that He’s made me into a better mother, wife, and Christian as a result of my challenging child.

You can do this! Rest in his promise that he will sustain you as you parent your challenging child.

Psalm 52:22

“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

I Hate Parenting Books!

I hate parenting books.

I’ve read so many and with my er….difficult child, they all just left me feeling like a failure. I may try all of the suggestions and they wouldn’t work. I may have already tried those things and they didn’t leave me with the desired result.

I’ve have read a handful that were helpful. The others left me feeling defeated and beyond hope with my atypical child. However, I can see that with more ordinary children who were not born with wills of iron and heads of stone, certain parenting books may be somewhat helpful.

Additionally, many parents may have grown  up in rather dysfunctional homes and really many need some hand holding and pointers on appropriate forms of discipline. Also, inexperienced parents definitely benefit from learning about what is normal, developmental behavior and what is bad behavior.

So, if you MUST read parenting books, I suggest that you look them over remembering the following points:

  • This is a list of suggestions for your family. You should try them and see how it goes. Don’t be afraid to pick and choose from ideas that may or may not work for your children.
  • You know your child and yourself. No anonymous author (other than God) knows your kids like you do.
  • No formula will magically produce cheerful, willingly obedient, helpful kids. Every child is different and every child needs to be disciplined and trained differently. Some children need gentle guidance while other children need limitations of steel. There is no one-size-fits-all parenting style.


All that to say this. Improving the parenting paradigm in my home occurred only when I recognized a few things.

1. My kids are young and have specific needs. I should think twice about disciplining them for poor behavior when I have not set the stage for good behavior.

Think of it. When an infant is squalling because they are hungry, what to parents do? Feed them. Of course, my 6 yo can learn to wait a few minutes for his dinner, but if he is legitimately hungry, he needs food; not a lecture for whining. My solution? Give the kid some carrot sticks or apple wedges.

I teach my kids patience, of course, and that their every need isn’t ALWAYS INSTANTLY provided (if we’re in the car 20 minutes from the house and they’re hungry, I’m not going to pull into the first McDonalds I see. But I can also expect some grumbling)

So I give them the tools for success by making sure that they are fed, comfortable, and rested. As they get older, I make sure that their social and intellectual needs are met. My extroverted teen daughter does much better when she can get out of the house several times a week, but I also have had to teach her that sometimes needs go unmet and we have to deal. (Ice storms shut us in the house for 3-4 days at a time in the winter and we just have to manage)

A whining kid during school may need an earlier bedtime, or a healthier breakfast, or a different kind of curriculum. I try to look for an underlying NEED before I assume my kids are just being little creeps trying to irritate me.

2. My kids are people with flaws. I don’t expect them to be perfect. I’m trying to teach my 6 yo appropriate levels of complaint about school. An “Aw man. Rats. I wanted to finish my game.” is okay when I call him for lessons. However, a total meltdown because he doesn’t want to do his lessons is a bit of overkill. So accepting a little bit of complaint is okay. I don’t do unpleasant things cheerfully 100% of the time. But I have learned as an adult to suck it up and not be a whiner about every little thing. This takes time for kids to learn. Be patient.

3. Modeling, explaining, and discussing often has better results than punishment with kids that are school aged or older. Sometimes, I do punish my kids. But I punish my youngers way less than I did my olders. It’s not that I am against spankings and punishments altogether. It’s just that I have learned that there are other tools in my parenting toolbox that are more effective against certain behaviors at different ages.

By the way, I have also learned that in the moment, explanations and discussions are almost always a waste of time.  Usually, when tensions are high and attitudes are bad, a discussion will not go well. The time for these things is later on when feelings have calmed down a little.

4. I need to check my own attitude. Disciplining a kid for something that just annoys me because I have a headache is unfair. If I am grumpy myself, I need to make sure that I am being fair, loving, and kind.

What do you think about parenting books? Are there a few that you love? Do you find them helpful or not? Leave a comment below and lets talk about parenting.


Stressed About Parenting? Listen to This TED Talk.

I really appreciated this woman’s approach to parenting. She says that it is too much for parents to be responsible for the happiness of their children.

This is a refreshing, common sense talk about parenting in this day and age when we can feel overwhelmed with the possibilities for our kids. We don’t have to make our kids into super-kids, experts in ballet, soccer, and horseback riding, while getting straight As and learning to play Beethoven on the piano.  And all that before Kindergarten!

Parenting has gotten so complicated in the past couple of decades. We are so invested in making our kids  “successful,” that we forget that parenting doesn’t have to be complicated. Love your kids. Teach them right from wrong. Give them hugs, and kisses, and a healthy dose of boundaries.

Crazy Comments

Whenever you walk through those big automated sliding doors at Walmart, all bets are off.

There’s no telling what you will hear.

There’s no telling what you will see.

There’s no telling what people will say.

I wonder if Walmart has sodium pentothol wafting through the air, because folks in Walmart will say just about anything. This is where crazy things fly out of seemingly normal folks’ mouths without stopping for moderation.

Currently, my kids are old enough that they seldom all accompany me to the store. But for a time there, comments I’d get were:

“My, you certainly have your hands full!” (duh.Tell me another one.)

“Are they all yours?” (Nope. I made the rounds of the neighborhood and volunteered to take the kids to Walmart because it sounded like fun.)

Said sympathetically to my little son with THREE big sisters, “Oh, poor guy! Three big sisters!”

Said with a sly smile, “You know what causes that right?” (Um, No, Haven’t figured it out yet. Please enlighten me.)

The craziest one was, “Do they all have the same Daddy?” (Yeah, like I’m going to discuss that with a total stranger in WALMART?)

Walmart Discount City

 Homeschooling Comments

When you homeschool,  you open yourself up to a whole different world of comments. Thankfully, I live in an area where people are amazingly supportive of homeschooling. I’ve never had a negative thing said to me about homeschooling. Or maybe it’s just that I was so busy trying to keep my kids from climbing the walls before I got our groceries paid for that I was completely oblivious to the snarks.

Anyway, I’ve heard stories about comments similar to these:

“Is that legal?”

“You’re going to ruin your kids for life.”

“You must be crazy! I couldn’t stand having my kids home with me all day!”

Then there’s that “What about socialization?” question.

 Comments from Loved Ones

These comments are hard enough to take from total strangers, but they can be even more hurtful when they come from people that we know, love, and whose opinions we value. It’s easy to let a snide comment roll off your back when the person doesn’t know you or your kids, but it is another thing entirely when an important person in your life questions your parenting and educational choices.

These comments can fester inside of us, “Does she really think that I am hurting my kids by keeping them home?”

These comments can cause huge arguments. “It’s none of your business how I educate my family!”

These comments can intensify the insecurity that many homeschooling parents already experience.” What was I thinking? He’s right! I have no business trying to teach these kids.”

These comments can stir up all kinds of yuck in our spirits because the decision to homeschool in most cases was not made lightly. Most of the time the loved ones who say these things don’t realize the time, prayer, and research that most parents invest before beginning homeschooling.

If you get a crazy comment from someone whose opinion you value, consider the following points.

  • Is this person routinely negative or critical of you or others? Sometimes, certain personalities get into a knee-jerk routine of questioning and criticizing other folk’s choices. Try not to take it personally. If the comments persist, you may want to gently and firmly clue them into the fact that your parenting and educational decisions are not up for public debate. If the criticism persists, every time they start in on you, gather your children and leave.
  • Does this person often interpret other people’s decisions as criticisms of their own choices? These people are often very insecure and interpret your homeschooling of your kids as a judgement on their own family’s educational choices. Make sure that you are not condemning of others’ choices and reassure them that you understand that all families are different and need different educational options.
  • Is this person operating from a place of genuine concern or just outright hostility? Grandparents may wonder how in the world their kids are going to navigate the “real world.” They may have no idea that homeschooling is a legitimate educational choice. Aunts and Uncles working in the educational realm may have met too many homeschoolers that are unprepared for upper level classes. You may need to gently and non-defensively point out that you understand that there are many homeschoolers that don’t do well in college, but there are also many public schoolers unprepared as well. Emphasize that you are equally concerned with college preparedness. Try to address their thoughts as best as you can if they are asking from the lens of genuine concern. If they are just hostile to the idea without ever listening to your thoughts, you may need to just change the subject.

It hurts when people we love misunderstand us. Some people, you are just never going to please no matter what. In that case, you just have to avoid the subject and try to limit contact.

Eventually, you will gain confidence in your educational choices. Hopefully, those who love you will come around once they figure out that you are not truly damaging your children for life.


Has anyone ever said anything crazy or discouraging to you about your family or your educational choices? I’d love to hear of some of the wild things that others have said to you or your kids.



***Photo Credit: Walmart Discount City by Ravi Patel via Flikr***

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