Now that it’s November, all the stores – and maybe your family home – are decorated for the holidays. It’s a special time of the year, full of wonderful traditions and memory-making events.

But for some folks, it’s also the time of year to rub shoulders with homeschool detractors. Are you facing family holiday gatherings that involve the questioning of your sanity and the quizzing of your kids?

Don’t Take it to Heart

I know. Easier said than done, right? After all, it’s one thing to brush off the random comments of the stranger behind you in line at the grocery store.

It’s another thing altogether to ignore the comments of your aunt or father-in-law. Maybe strangers don’t understand or trust you, but when family doesn’t, it really stings.

But you don’t need to let the observations and predictions of an outsider (even a family member) undercut your confidence. After all, you’re the one who’s done the research. You’re the one who’s connected with people who can inform and support you.

And, you’re the one who sees what’s really happening in your homeschool on a day to day basis. But maybe that’s the problem.

Maybe you already feel insecure about your struggling reader, the days that you skipped the science experiment, or the times you lost your temper and yelled at your sweet babies. Maybe Aunt Julie’s comments touch on those exact sore spots.

Don’t let them. Her remarks are not constructive criticism meant to help you grow. Maybe you do need to talk to someone about your concerns, but she’s not the one.

Set Boundaries

I know this is a touchy subject, but if this is a consistent problem, you may need to have some tough conversations. Presumably everyone wants the holidays to be a time filled with joy, so you’ll have to speak up and let folks know that their conversations are putting a damper on your family’s holiday bliss.

If the challenges are coming from your husband’s side of the family, start the conversation with him well in advance. Ask for his support in addressing this issue and offer to let him be the one to initiate the discussion or be present for it.

Reiterate that you deeply desire to have a pleasant experience with his family and this discussion – though it may be tricky at the outset – can ultimately lead to more peaceful times of togetherness.

As you talk to family members, reassure them that you know they care about you and your children and that you are sure this is the reasons behind their concerns and questions. Explain, however, that the questioning is becoming a source of stress for you and the children and you’d prefer that it wasn’t a part of the holiday schedule.

Or, perhaps you’re comfortable fielding the comments and letting them roll off, but your concern is for the children’s anxiety. You may need to explain that the children are off limits in terms of homeschool comments or quizzes. Direct adults who have concerns to come to you and not to pressure the children to perform or ask them if they are “so sad about not getting to go to school” with their friends.

Get Support

If you’re a part of a safe, caring group of homeschool families – either in real life or online – share the comments you’re fielding and let them help you to process. I promise, you’re not the only one who has had to face this challenge.

This is a place where you really can ask those tough questions (about the struggling reader or the skipped science experiments) and receive guidance from those who know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes.

If you need a place, I recommend The Homeschool Help Desk – a group staffed by a variety of veteran homeschool moms who would be happy to provide advice and encouragement for any of your homeschool struggles.

If you’d like to chat more about the push back from family, what motivates folks to make those comments and how you can handle them with confident savvy, join me to talk about that on the next episode of LIVE without Training Wheels!

Lynna Sutherland

Lynna blogs at Homeschooling without Training Wheels where she likes to remind families (and herself!) about the freedom and flexibility of homeschooling.  She is a mama to seven unique little people ranging in age from middle school to ninja toddler.  She loves to help families find comfortable and realistic ways to homeschool a variety of ages family-style!
Holiday Time when Your Family is Anti-Homeschool
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