Every parent talks about the moment they first set eyes on their child. How it is the greatest love they have ever felt and from that moment on they were forever changed.
That may be true for some, but for me (and most women I know), I was forever changed the moment I found out I was pregnant, and after birthing each of my children the moment I first set eyes on my children, the most prominent feeling I remember was more like relief!
In all fairness, and despite how much of a “crunchy mom” I look on paper (or the internet for all of you millennials who may not remember the olden days of “paper”), I would by no means label myself a such. I was not one of the “I love being pregnant” types as most “crunchies” are. Plus to be accepted as an authetic “crunchy mom”, I would have to subscribe to attachment parenting….which is most definitely not my style.
Open the flood gates of judgement on me!
Since those gates are already open let me take this opportunity to just say it….
Women can be some insecure, self loathing, attention seeking, bullies!
This stereotype never became more true to me until after becoming a mother. Society sets unreasonable standards for motherhood, and since it’s impossible to be everything to everyone, no one meets these standards. NO ONE….ESPECIALLY NOT YOU. At least that’s what you will be told by other mothers who are insecure about their own parenting choices and to feel validated they chastise everyone who parents differently. It’s ugly.
USUALLY by the time your kids reach school age, the judgemental attitudes somewhat fade away because, by then, it’s inevitable that even the most extreme parent of any style of parenting has, at one point, done something they never intended to do, and reasonable people can admit that to themselves and start to lighten up. Plus, by the time your child is five or six years old, you see for yourself that a kid whose first sippy cup was with a straw, is pretty much the same as the kid who was first given a sippy cup with a spout. Yet, women can be so mean to one another that I have seen friendships end over such ridiculous debates.
I emphasize “usually” because USUALLY school age children are sent off to school. USUALLY this gives parents a feeling of shared responsibility for child rearing and education. USUALLY shared responsibility means shared blame and this USUALLY brings parents closer together and makes them more united with one another because now they can bond by judging the heck out of the teachers rather than one another.
Being a primary homeschooling parent is basically like living with that constant judgement you feel that first year as a new parent, every day, for as long as you homeschool.
The judgment bestowed upon a parent who chooses to homeschool however, is not limited to coming from other mothers. Now you have that judgement being thrown on you from pretty much everyone and being bullied by society in general can really start to wear on you.
There are 5 things every homeschooling parent needs to reaffirm to themselves regularly to keep themselves from feeling defeated
1. Haters Gonna Hate
Now, I’m not saying every judgemental asshole is such because they are secretly jealous that you homeschool and they don’t. I’m saying that they are secretly jealous that you have the stones to accept the majority of responsibility for the person your child becomes, faults included. They are jealous that because of your courage, you don’t have to deal with regularly dragging your kids out of bed at the crack of dawn after staying up late helping them finish homework they likely have no interest in (and you definitely have no interest in). They are jealous of the extra time you get and the freedom you have to do what you want with that extra time. So don’t let the haters get to you, it’s just their way of coping.
2. You Are Gonna Hate
Yes, it’s true. There will be hard days (days that may even turn in to hard weeks). These days (or weeks) are filled with one failure after another and usually come with a soundtrack of disrespectful commands from ungrateful little humans. These days (or weeks) are long and grueling. They make you question your choice to homeschool, and your ability. You find yourself feeling jealous of all of the non-homeschooling parents who get to have alone time even if it’s only a drive to work ( I’d roll down my windows, blast some gangster rap, and sing along with every demeaning verse and curse word i know).
Being watched by little sponges who emulate your every action can feel very suffocating at times. Then you feel jealous of the non-homeschooling parents who work outside of the home while their kids are at school. Jealous of them having conversations with other adults that don’t revolve around curriculum and jealous of the extra income which would make everything less stressful. When you feel this way…DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! Take a deep breath…reflect on all of the reasons you chose to homeschool…. and refer back to Number 1. The grass is always greener.
3. Parenting IS Teaching
Too often I read other blogs about homeschool life where they view being a parent and being your child’s teacher as two mutually exclusive roles that they struggle to find a balance between. Nonsense! The main objective as a parent is to prepare your child to be independent. Every parent is their child’s teacher. The most important life lessons are not taught in schools and before your children can even speak they have already learned so much from you just by simply watching your behavior. Homeschooling parents often fear their children won’t view them as having the same authority as a teacher because they know them as “mom and dad”. Maybe I think this is so absurd because I do not subscribe to the attachment parenting style like most homeschooling parents. Instead,(Judgemental trigger warning) I believe in training children and training them from the beginning. It’s incredibly easy to condition (most human beings but especially) a child, and the older they get, the harder it becomes to uncondition. If you feel your children respect you as a parent but not as a teacher, it’s probably because you have compartmentalized these roles and feel insecurities as a home educator but not so much as a parent, and your children have followed your lead. Remind yourself that these roles are one and the same. Change your way of thinking, and it will change the way you act, which will then change your children’s way of thinking, and eventually the way that they act.
4. Perfectionists Need Not Apply
There is no such thing as a perfect parent, a perfect child, a perfect curriculum or a perfect way to deal with finding out perfect parenting is a fallacy. The world of homeschool curricula is overwhelming to say the least. Having such a wide variety of resources to choose from is a great thing! However, a lot of home educators spend countless hours and federal reserve IOU’s (A.K.A. U.S. dollars) searching for the perfect ciricculum for their children. STOP. Of course do some research and your due diligence…but stop looking for one that is perfect and find one that is acceptable. One of the great things about homeschooling is the one-on-one time your children have available. If you come across something in the curriculum you are using that, for whatever reason, you want to skip over or teach a different way, what’s stopping you? Probably your own fears of not being able to teach it perfectly. As you read that last sentence I hope you realize how ridiculous that sounds, and how unnecessarily hard you are being on yourself.
5. One Day At A Time
Life is unpredictable. Worrying about how you will one day teach your 7-year-old the things you are not at all proficient in, be it calculus or welding, will just breed unnecessary self-doubt. Don’t let your expectations for your child’s future impede on their natural talents and organic interests. What your child needs from you TODAY is much more important than the possibility of you not being able to fulfill what they may or may not need from you in 5 years. Pay attention to the “here and now” and be flexible with your plans and expectations.
Homeschooling is an amazing opportunity for yourself and your children, but don’t let your own insecurities, expectations, and mistakes suck the joy right out of the experience.
Above all else, be kind. Every parent is trying to do what they feel is best for their children, and regardless of how sure (or unsure) you are about your choices, you do not know what’s best for someone else. Refrain from parent shaming….not only to the parents you meet out in the world, but also to the parent you see when you look in the mirror. Your children are watching.