It seems there will always be someone to offend and I will always find a way to offend them. My husband and I crack up (after a significant period of time passes after each incident of course) because we are pretty quiet people who pretty much keep to ourselves yet always end up under attack. He says it's typical bully behavior, I agree for the most part. We are quiet, we are polite and for some reason this leaves us open for criticism. I don't know, though, the more I listen the more I hear of similar things happening with everyone else around us too, so it's ridiculous to think this only happens to us.
I think the solution to the problem, however, is that more people should keep their opinions to themselves. I was thinking of this today while I was making our final preparations to begin our school year, then a friend fell under criticism for her family's decision to school their children at home and I'm really just fed up with the whole thing. Granted, I am speaking my mind on a public blog with provided space for comments, so any negative feedback I get is to be expected and the honest thing to do would be to accept it graciously. Soap boxes can get pretty slippery, I know.
Personally, we decided to home school with no great convictions in either direction. We aren't too opposed to sending our kids to school and have always left it up to them. There were no religious reasons behind our decision to home school. I grew up in private school which I never really liked. I just didn't get it, why I had to sit there all day and then go home and do hours more of homework. Home schooling would have been a dream come true. My husband grew up in public school and couldn't find much he liked about it.
Before we had children we toyed with the idea of keeping our kids home. I just couldn't see what was wrong with devoting my time to my kids and giving them the gift of the freedoms that home schooling could allow. We still hadn't decided either way when our older son was getting close to school age. When he was ready for preschool, we enrolled him as all "normal" families do even though I was home during the weekdays at the time. When my mother learned that she had cancer, we took him out of his class, knowing we would be traveling the 3 hours to her place of treatment and to her home with no idea what the duration of time would be. Fortunately, her treatments were few and successful, but not long after, we were required to make a move to another area for my husband's new job.
The move was pretty touch and go and we didn't end up getting our things transferred until the day before public school in the new county was scheduled to begin. I didn't have the heart to move our little guy into a new house, new town, and then dump him in school the very next day. I knew he would be fine, but home schooling for kindergarten was the answer for us. We loved it so much that we have never stopped. This will be our ninth year, in fact.
Now I'm not going to detail the complaints and I'm just plain sick of the "social" subject so won't even go into that, but my gripe is that because we have made the decision to home school, others think it gives them the right to point out the major problems they see with the lifestyle we have chosen. It never fails to irk me when I think of this. Honestly, people think, imply, and have come pretty close to saying that we haven't taken our children's best interests to heart in our decision. I have even had someone say to me, "I'm not saying you aren't doing a good job with them academically..." First of all how do they know?! I might be an utter failure at teaching my children what they need to know. They aren't in our home during lesson time, they don't sit at our table with us while we do our work. I have never shown anyone our boys' end of the year test scores but the state home school office, as is required by law. No, they were saying our children were being neglected in other ways and they know as much about that as they know the color of my pajamas on any given night.
Do I grill people on their decision to send their children to school? Would I be so bold as to pull another parent's child aside to ask them what they want as others have done with my children concerning home schooling, as if it had never occurred to me to ask them myself if they wanted to go to school or not? Of course not! I wouldn't be so rude. And anyway, who am I to say I have any idea what is best for their children? And as my dear friend is fond of pointing out, do you think we home school to make parents of schooled children feel smaller? Do parents of "traditionally" schooled children honestly think that we spend hours educating our children, weeks preparing to educate our children, and allow the government access to such a enormous aspect of our personal lives just to one-up parents of schooling children? Do they really think we devote our lives to their education only to imply that we are the better parents, all without stopping to consider our children's needs, feelings, rights, likes, or wishes along the way?
The two most important things that some are SO concerned with my boys missing out on? Prom and a chemistry lab. Really? Heaven forbid my boys miss out on prom night and I guess that shark dissection they participated in did nothing for them, since it wasn't performed in a "lab" and neither will the myriad of other animal dissections we will be doing when my boys begin high school biology. Lessons sitting by a river in a national park, hours spent just playing with friends at weekly home school meets, field trips with other home schoolers, parties, science fairs, craft days...all the things we can do as a home school family...worthless in their eyes. Not enough in their opinion. Never enough. And the worst part is that they have to fill our ears with this flack as if we've asked.