Five Tips for Dealing with Unsupportive Family and Friends
Editor’s Note: While homeschooling success stories abound, choosing to homeschool is often still seen as an unconventional path. Have you ever received pushback from unsupportive family and friends on your choice to homeschool? Veola Vazquez, a prolific author and professor of psychology at California Baptist University, lends her insights on how a homeschooling family can best endure when loved ones disagree.
Have you heard comments such as these?
“Your kids will never compete academically with public school kids.”
“Your kids will end up with social problems.”
“You can’t keep your kids in a bubble.”
Encountering Unsupportive Family and Friends
Whether its family or friends, there will usually be someone in our lives who thinks our decision to homeschool is somewhat strange. So, what do you do when they not only voice concerns, but family and friends are outright unsupportive of your decision to homeschool?
First, it’s important to know that you might be able to win over some of the opposition, but not everyone will come around. So, if you’re in it for the long haul, make sure to keep in mind the following tips:
1. Know your reasons.
When faced with opposition, you may feel as though you need to justify your decision or you might even question whether you’ve made the right choice about homeschooling. Even if you’ve been at it for years, it helps to have a clear rationale for the decision. Have an open discussion with your immediate family (your kids, your spouse) so that there is consensus and confidence in the decision. Then, when others voice concern, there’s no need to feel defensive. You can feel secure in your decision and know that the key people involved have your back.
2. Prepare for encounters with non-supporters.
Developing active listening skills can go a long way to help manage difficult conversations. If you acknowledge and validate others’ concerns, it can even keep conflict at bay. Listening doesn’t mean agreement. Simply acknowledging a comment — “It sounds like you love my kids and you’re concerned that they’re missing out” — and affirming the validity of the persona’s point — “I can understand your concern. I know that can be an issue for some families” — may be all that is needed to help another individual feel heard and to move the conversation to other topics.
3. Manage stress and know your triggers.
You can combat the stress of unsupportive family and friends by working to recognize the particular comments or questions that push your buttons. Make a plan for how you’ll manage your emotions when these arise. Will you take a moment to pray? Take a few deep breaths? Walk away? Remind yourself that homeschooling is a blessing? Whether you choose a tactic to bolster your thinking or your emotions, developing a few quick calming techniques can keep your stress levels from boiling over.
4. Find active and frequent support.
Social support bolsters a sense of well-being for both kids and parents as well as strengthens academics and emotional skills. With that in mind, when lacking support from family or friends, it’s important to actively seek it elsewhere. Although homeschool groups and co-ops are common, it can be tempting to make everything your child does a “learning” opportunity. When seeking support, set aside your learning goals for a while and allow the Lord to bring both you and your child encouragement and times of refreshing.
5. Help kids know how to respond.
When children encounter unsupportive individuals, they may not know how to respond. Just like you, they need skills to manage the feelings that arise when they encounter negative comments. Start by teaching your child to label feelings. Are they angry? Sad? Hurt? Talk with your child about strategies to manage these feelings such as talking it out, drawing a picture, guided prayer, playing with a favorite toy, spending time with a pet, etc. Although this may be a challenge at first, the more frequently they practice using these kinds of emotional coping techniques, the easier it will become.
Veola Vazquez is a licensed psychologist and professor of psychology at California Baptist University. She regularly speaks at Bible studies, women’s retreats, conferences and community outreach events. She is an author of children’s and women’s fiction. She earned her Ph.D. from Rosemead School of Psychology at Biola University.
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/veolavazquez
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