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Do you explain yourselves to strangers?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I hadn't heard any comments about us homeschooling in a long time probably because except for the homeschool support groups we do, we have little contact with people during school hours. But yesterday I had a doc appt and we got into that old conversation with the PA, you know, "Why is he not in school? Does he like it? But doesn't he get lonely?" I felt pressured into explaining why what I was doing was good for him. Dh just tells me to tell strangers to buzz off when they ask personal questions but I am too polite. I don't mind answering curious questions but I really do mind feeling like I have to justify myself to total strangers.

What do you do? I don't want to be impolite but am thinking about saying, "I'm sorry those are personal questions." whenever they are specific to my son but let them know I would be happy to answer general questions about homeschooling. I know I am being touchy but I feel like I have to justify myself enough to family members who worry about "poor Taylor who can't go to school like other kids" so why should I have to do it with a total stranger who doesn't know ds much less care about him.
post #2 of 19
you are totally justified in saying that general questions are fine, but specific questions about your son are too personal. how many strangers would start questioning people about SENDING their kids to school??? it really is none of their business.

I think any time you choose an 'alternative' lifestyle, some people are going to be uncomfortable with it and ask a lot of pointed questions. it's like raising your kids as vegetarians (but how do they get enough protein? i wouldn't want to deny my children the pleasure of eating meat. etc) or without barbies or gun toys (your child really seem to want a barbie - how can you deny that? children will turn anything into a gun - do you stop them from playing if they pretend something else is a gun? etc)

it's annoying. but we live in a highly conformist culture (one of the reasons THIS mom is hsing) and these comments are ways of coaxing us back into the mainstream. it may also be a defense mechanism - your hsing choice suggests there is something wrong with public schooling, and the questioner may be trying to avoid this suggestion by instead trying to figure out if there is something wrong with you. i confess i often find myself saying bland things like "i'm sure the schools here are fine, i just think hsing is a lot of fun" my situation gets even more uncomfortable, because sometimes dd (who is 5) will say (in front of the questioners) "mom, can i please go to school next year?" and I really don't feel like embarking on the explanation right then and there..........
post #3 of 19
I get this question a lot from doctorsand their office staff. Usually they are general and I have no problem saying, " we are happy homeschooling," or "it's working for us right now." I can usually leave it at that. Typically, because my kids are young, I get the question, "how long are you going to homeschool?" That one I blandly answer with a "we're taking one year at a time." That way I don't have to get too into it. If the person is asking personal questions I will tell them how well my children are doing at home right now. The socialization question I answer by saying that we are part of a homeschool group that meets very regularly and is rather large. I also answer that socialization is not something I am concerned with (that usually gets them to shut up). I don't feel like I should have to answer personal questions but I am also too polite to just cut them off. It's so bothersome.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
See, I know I should be motivated to educate them but I am tired of hearing my responses. It is like I am being asked to sing a song I am really tired of.
post #5 of 19
I have learned not to educate them unless I can really tell that they are interested. I know I don't like people trying to "educate" me about the importance of going to ps so I try not to make that mistake. Some people are receptive and I tread slowly and carefully.
post #6 of 19
Does anyone else get strange urges to give smart a** answers?

Does he get lonely?

Only on the days I keep him locked in the closet.

why is he not in school?

Because school is a waste of time, and not very educational.


Because schools remind me of prisons, and just don't want my kids locked up when they haven't done anything wrong.

Aren't you worried about his socialization?

Yes, that's why I homeschool.


Socialization means to adopt the norms and values of the culture, and I don't want my child socialized!

I know VERY well that different things work for different families, but I hate stupid questions. I'm really really really tired of people implying that my kids are missing out on something amazing when they don't have any idea what my kids do all day!

I've never said anything like what I've typed here, but I can't help but wonder if the urge indicates the need for therapy :
post #7 of 19
When ds was a baby, and I had no idea I would someday want to homeschool, I asked our homeschooling neighbor the "what about socialization" question and she actually answered "That's one of the main reasons we homeschool!" That very answer, smartass as it may seem, is what got me thinking and set me on the track. We have both since moved away and she has no idea how much she influenced me.

We love homeschooling!!!
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
lavender- if someone I knew was sincerely interested in homeschooling for their own child, I would gladly tell them everything I know. I tell my friends and family who have kids without them asking (rude I know!). I just don't like telling strangers who don't really have any interest or concern for my child.

Linda-- your post is so funny because it is almost exactly what I was thinking of saying. When the PA said, "Isn't it hard?" I almost said, "Heavens, no! I put him in the closet with a flashlight from 8 to 3 and slide the worksheets under the door!"

I was thinking about turning the questions around by saying, "Oh, do you have kids? Do they go to school? Do they like it? Do you think they are learning anything? How do they get any individual attention? Do they hate it when they have to learn at the average pace instead of their own pace? Don't they learn racist and sexist stuff at school? Do they have corporate advertising in their school? etc, etc" until they either get the point or shut up.

I just need something to make these conversations more interesting, because when I know they don't really care, I just don't feel like getting into it.

I am glad more people feel like I do. I wouldn't probably do the things I have thought of but it sure is fun to think about.
post #9 of 19
Originally posted by laralou
"Oh, do you have kids? Do they go to school? Do they like it? Do you think they are learning anything? How do they get any individual attention? Do they hate it when they have to learn at the average pace instead of their own pace? Don't they learn racist and sexist stuff at school? Do they have corporate advertising in their school? etc, etc"
oh yes! And...

"Do they hate having to go to bed early and get up early? Do you mind all the questions the school asks that don't have anything to do with educating your child? Isn't it hard to make them do their homework when they are worn out from spending all day being told what to do? Don't you worry about them getting enough down time? How do you keep their curiousity and creativity in tack when they spend all day in a classroom? Have your checked out your schools accedemic standards and methods to ensure that they are getting a first rate education? Do your kids find the endless standardized testing stressful? Do you have to spend a lot of time advocating for your child? How do you make them go when they don't want to? Do you worry about your child loosing his/her sense of self?"

Some people think homeschooling looks hard, but I think it would be a lot harder to send a child to school! And yet, schooling parents are the ones asking us homeschoolers the stupid questions!

(I know, I know, the answer is NOT for us to start asking stupid questions )
post #10 of 19
We're planning to unschool, so I've been anticipating that there'll be tedious questions, its actually already been happening around other issues like breastfeeding, cosleeping, slings...I really like the idea of answering questions with more questions! Thanks Linda and Laralou! Why should I have to go on the defensive, right? I think that and the short, bland answers ("we really enjoy it!") will be my method, up til now I've allowed myself to get sucked into annoying conversations...And then I can tell if someone is truly intrigued and receptive, or if they're just interested in criticizing something that's unfamiliar to them--in the first case I'd be happy to share info, otherwise why waste precious moments, life's too short (to let somebody upset me, especially!).
post #11 of 19
another reply i use sometimes that gets people thinking without being sarcastic or directly criticizing their choices is "we would never have enough time for all the art, music, and dance lessons if she were in school all day!"
post #12 of 19

Re: Do you explain yourselves to strangers?

LOL Hahaha.

They always regret it if they are not ready for the "Industrial Age" verses "Information Era" lecture!

post #13 of 19
I carry a booklist with me everywhere I go. It also addresses some basic questions people ask and has internet links to good sites. It is also very unschool geared (which is nice since school at seems perfecly acceptable to some people and then they ask me about grades and curriculum)

You can get the one I have from http://www.home-ed-magazine.com/ORD/frm_flyer.html They are perfect for peole with questions.
post #14 of 19
I'm loving this thread. I am always tempted to give a smart *** answer to these types of questions but don't usually have to guts to do it. When people ask the "S" question I've taken to looking very confused and saying, "What do you mean?" as if it's the most bizarre question I've ever heard. This usually stops that line of questioning...I think b/c people really don't know what they mean by "socialization" in the first place.

The people I've run into seem to have a very narrow view of hsing and ask questions like, "When is your library period?" or "Does the school give you textbooks to use?" It's a great enough leap for them to see hsing as an option, never mind unschooling.
post #15 of 19
We are just thinking about it and gosh are already fielding questions about not preschooling. What I would do is say:

Are you asking this question because you are interested in what HS could provide for your child(ren)? I think that people would be really embarassed to admit that they were asking an empty question, and this would force THEM to look into THEIR motivation.

Anyone's tried that?
post #16 of 19
I usually let my child answer the questions. He tells them about his math and books he has read, his handwriting program, what he does for science and grammar...then he starts in about his travels (Miami/Everglades, DC, upstate NY, hiking/camping/orienteering, canoe trips in the Canadian wilderness, Montreal, Quebec, Washington, LA, San Diego, extended train travel, Hong Kong, Utah/Olympics, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, sailing...), then he moves on to adult ed classes he takes once in a while with me...his piano lessons, his hockey team, his knowledge about roller coaster history and mechanics...After a while they come to realize there is NO WAY they could ever have the time to listen to all he does so they are satisfied that he is educated and move on to easier kids with easier questions "And what grade are you in this year?" "Do you like your teachers?" "What's your favorite subject?" People who know him at the doctor's office just come right out and say "I am SO jealous of you...you have a great life!" That's what we like to hear. It usually takes a few encounters for people to get to that point, though.

I think it's better for the children to answer the questions. I have always told my son, even when he went to public school, about questions that he doesn't have to answer. When he used to go to Toastmaster's with us, he learned about how to 'sidestep' questions that are better off not answered because they are nosy or inappropriate.

post #17 of 19
I usually give one word answers, like "yes" and "no". That usually ends the conversation unless it is someone who wants to know about homeschooling and then they'll tell me. I've had quite a few people ask me about it because they're considering hsing.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by truly_sarah
I think it's better for the children to answer the questions.
I could get arrested based on ds's answers. LOL! He is always so off the wall. Sometimes he says, "We don't even do anything!" I have to interrupt and say, "Yes we do!"

He just told the lady at Milo's today that I am on the computer 24 hours a day! I was so embarrassed. I do keep it on all day but I am not on the net all day. I keep his hs records on the computer and I like to listen to audible books when I am cleaning. They don't know he is talking about that.
post #19 of 19
Linda!!! ROTFLOL!!! I think that is too funny!!

I have one I actually used once to the big S question:
concerned stranger: "what about socialization??"
me: "Oh. that. well, next year we plan to teach them how to swear and disrespect his elders. That should cover it!"

She quit after that one.

I'm not really known for my quiet attitude....
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