When Grandparents Don’t Understand

You’re all pumped up about homeschooling, you love seeing your kids learn new things, and you love having the time to learn together. Yet there’s a fly in your ointment—your parents or your in-laws are opposed to what you’re doing.

This hurts. You want them to be happy for your family, to appreciate what you’re doing, and you certainly don’t want them to make trouble for you. Maybe it would help to look at the situation from their point of view.

I’m not saying they’re right…I’m just suggesting you put yourself in their place for a few minutes. Chances are good they’re in their 50s or 60s. That means they started going to school in the 1950s or 1960s. Their memories of school took place in a much different era. Teachers’ biggest concerns back then were kids chewing gum in class and running in the hallways, not bringing guns to class and ducking gang members in the hallways. Many of today’s grandparents picture school as the experience they remember, not the one that exists now.

Your parents or in-laws may also view your choice to homeschool your kids as a criticism of the way you or your spouse were educated. They probably chose to live in an area where there was a decent school, and they believe you got a good education. But to them, your choice of homeschooling may feel like a rejection of your education, and they’re taking it personally.

 Another possibility is that they truly believe the only place a child can learn to read, write and do math is in school. They became parents during an era when so-called experts, like Dr. Benjamin Spock, were almost worshipped as parenting gods. What people like Dr. Spock said was practically gospel to some people back then. Your parents or in-laws may view teachers as experts, but they still see you as their child (or the person their child married). They may like you, but that doesn’t mean they think you have the expertise to teach your kids.

There may be other, more personal, reasons your parents or in-laws would object to you homeschooling your kids; only you would know if that’s the case. But the fact remains that it hurts if they don’t support your decision. That discord may simmer under the surface, or it could result in outright hostility.

In most cases, the solution to this problem is time. As your children grow up to become happy, independent and smart young people, their grandparents will see that they’re doing fine. You can help this along by inviting them to your support group’s Project Night or science fair, sharing your children’s test scores with them, and involving them in field trips as well as projects you work on at home. Remove the mystery of homeschooling so they can see that it really is just a loving and involved family life. People fear what they don’t know; help your parents or in-laws to understand homeschooling, and show them the fruit it bears in your children’s lives so they can understand exactly why you would make such a choice.

(Excerpted from Stages of Homeschooling: Beginnings, my new eBook available only at Amazon.com for the Kindle. Learn how to use the free Kindle app on your pc HERE.)