"How do you respond to family members?"
Meredith wrote something in April 2011 about what the grandparents want, and her ideas are great. Below that are notes from older conversations, and relatives other than grandparents, too. All families are different, so I hope there might be something useful here, and if not there are other links at the bottom.
It's helpful to keep in mind that one of the big things grandparents want is a sense of connection with their grandchildren. When kids aren't in school, that can feel awkward - what the heck do you say to a child other than "what are you doing in school?" Especially if you only see him twice a year? It can leave extended family members stymied. So it helps a whoooole lot to feed them useful information and conversation starters in the form of something grandparents usually like anyway - pictures and stories of their grandkids. Keeping a blog or sending regular notes (via facebook or plain old snail mail) goes a long way in that regard. And! they get to see their beloved grandchildren happy and adventurous, which can help to reassure them on that score.
Hi. It's me Ang, I haven't read or posted here for awhile. You wanna know how I handled the family members, once and for all? I sent them this really long email. I got tired of the "concerns" and the veiled insults, so I put it in writing (i do best writing and not with in- person conflicts). I am browsing posts and saw this question about responding to family members, so here it is. Everyone i know who has email got copied. No one came back and questioned me, except one aunt who asked what LOL means. And i did get some complimentary feedback. I put it out there and how they feel about it at this point is their problem. It's long, i tried not to be too offensive, and i when i say I "use" the world book scope and sequence, all that means is i scan it and say yep, yep, covered that, this would count for that, etc. No forced curriculum. And it helps me organize my portfolio for year-end assessment.
Q: Since eliminating contact with these family members is not possible, does anyone have any suggestions on how I can minimize the effects of these "lectures" on the boys?
A: As someone who has cut off all contact with members of my own extended family, I would encourage you to consider whether or not you really can cut them off. If you decide you can't do that, here's what I did with my Dad (I was tempted to cut him off, but offered him a choice first). On a visit to my home (he'd driven 2,000 miles) he launched into some political rant, in front of my then 4yo. I told him to stop, that his opinions weren't welcome. He replied by saying he didn't know I 'felt this way' he'd never heard me talk this way before. I explained that when I was a girl, living in his home, I didn't argue because it was his home and not worth the fight. Now it was my home, and my child and I will decide what behaviors/words will be welcome around my child in our home. Further, if he couldn't get his act together and do as I wished, he wouldn't be invited to be part of my son's life, whether in our home or anywhere else. Surprisingly, his behavior improved considerably.
He doesn't argue politics or anything else with me, anywhere. It's rare he even brings it up at all. Of course, you have to be willing to play the grandchildren card, and ready to back it up if pushed.
On the Always Learning List in early June, 2009 (me posting for someone else): (message brought to the list in an anonymous way)
Sandra, I want to put the following AIM chat that my brother wrote to me on the … group for advice how and if i should respond to him…
This came as a big shock to me because he has always been on my side with homeschooling. I guess my parents' opinions got to him. This is my younger brother whom is living with my parents,no job yet.
I was there today visiting and everything was cool. I came home, we started chatting and this is what he kept writing. I did not respond. I clicked out and closed AIM. What do you think i should do?
It is very insulting as you can see. If you want to put it on the list, it will help me..thanks!
[the brother] (5:19:44 PM): do you really think [he] as a fair sjot at getting a good education from you and keeping up with the level the other kids are gonna maintain?Note from Sandra: When I read that I assumed the brother was maybe 22 years old. Turns out he's in his late 30's and childless, living at home with his parents, and was recently in legal trouble for something drug-related. The sister he's haranguing here is older than he is, and is the one who took the collect calls from him when he was in jail and relayed messages to their parents.
It does shed a different light on it. Not a better light…
I'm really sorry I didn't get to this Friday. All day Saturday I was gone and today we had company and I was tired, and kept forgetting to check my to-do lists and e-mail. Sorry.
Just sounds like same old worries that lots of relatives have. I wouldn't get too hurt or insulted, it is understandable ignorance talking. Instead, tell him you can understand why he'd worry, and that you're appreciative that he cares enough to tell you what he really thinks, but that you've considered all those same issues and you feel pretty confident that what you're doing will work. You could take the concerns one at a time and respond, if you want to, or you could dismiss them all at once and say, "We're just going to do this as long as it works for us."
Given Sandra's additional background information...to me the whole thing didn't sound like regular ignorance. It sounded like projection. It sounded like he is (perhaps unwittingly) expressing his own fears and resentments - shame about his own failures and difficulties, his resentments at having been bullied, his feelings of low self-worth and stupidity about the masses of stuff he has forgotten, maybe guilt at what he has imposed on his family - all wrapped up in what might be genuine affection for his sister and nephew.
****you could dismiss them all at once and say, "We're just going to do this as long as it works for us."****
Contrary to his belief, it is not her need to hear this, but evidently his need to express it. There is so little logic here that I'm all for Pam's last line.
Robyn L. Coburn
My first thought was that it was a hot-headed 22 year old, possibly drunk or stoned. When I inquired as to age, and got the details of drug related crime, I thought even more likely it was the ramblings of someone under the influence of something chemical, and I agree with Robyn that it's probably an angst/guilt explosion misdirected.
And it's unlikely that a childless unemployed 30-something will have examined his own schooling for flaws. If he's bought the general "wisdom" of it all, if he was unhappy it was his fault, and if he's grown up frustrated and worrisome, it's his fault. So if he didn't do better WITH the supposed-to-be-magical-guarantee education, he's afraid his nephew will be MORE unemployed and MORE criminally involved, maybe.
Maybe what his sister could do would be to write and point some of that out lightly, that school is no guarantee, and in fact does a lot of damage to people's self-image and desire to learn and do and be. Maybe she could name some particular people they both know who did well without college, or who have college and aren't doing well, and if the factors have to do with drugs and alcohol, perhaps point out that many people first encounter drugs and alcoholic binges in school.
***My first thought was that it was a hot-headed 22 year old, possibly drunk or stoned. When I inquired as to age, and got the details of drug related crime, I thought even more likely it was the ramblings of someone under the influence of something chemical, and I agree with Robyn that it's probably an angst/guilt explosion misdirected.***
Unfortunately I had almost the identical conversation with my "well educated" "successful""quote- happy" brother. He heard nothing. !!!??? Conversation over.
***Unfortunately I had almost the identical conversation with my "well educated" "successful""quote- happy" brother. He heard nothing. !!!??? Conversation over.***
One thing I've seen with addicts I've known personally is that the substance (alcohol in my mom's case, plain cheap beer) seems to take over in such a way that the alcohol or alcoholism protects itself from any efforts of its direct or indirect victims to stop it. THAT has seemed the main aspect of addiction in what I've seen, that like an unfriendly alien being that's being hosted by a now-helpless human body, it's willing to kill its host before it will let itself die.
Perhaps school is addicting in that way. Perhaps schooling comes with all the defenses and justifications to keep people from seeing clearly until they die, so that school can survive. The survival of the students is nowhere NEAR the top of the list, not only in my school-as- parasitical-alien analogy, but in the view of real, earthly school boards. They will defend the jobs of employees of the schools (including themselves) above the good of some nameless, replaceable seven year old boy or girl.
I've often thought that those students and graduates who defend what was done to them suffer a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.
Was watching Bill Maher the other month and he had a British guest on (sorry, can't recall the name) who said one thing that stuck deep in my craw -- he said "Kids in England get sent to a boarding school where they are pee'd on in the showers every day, and then they send their kids to the same school because they think it builds character."
Anguish and fear may build character—what kind of character? Seems to answer a lot of questions for me, anyway.
[the brother](5:20:16 PM): what about all the details that he should learn that we don't remember anymore [the brother](5:20:34 PM): like scientific stuff anf algebra, trigonometry [the brother](5:20:59 PM): all the complicated hard stuff that we didn't even learn [the brother](5:21:10 PM): or use for all these years and forgotThis would be funny if he wasn't serious.
The argument doesn't make sense. Send your child to school to learn stuff that he won't remember, learn stuff you'll never use and to not learn those complicated things that your brother thought he should have learned while he was in school but didn't.
For me this is an argument against sending my child to school.
I think he made a perfect case AGAINST school! Very convincing! ;-)
> I was there today visiting and everything was cool. I came home, we > started chatting and this is what he kept writing. I did not respond. > I clicked out and closed AIM. What do you think i should do? > > It is very insulting as you can see. If you want to put it on the > list, it will help me..thanks!It will probably help calm you down if you look at it through his eyes. Since he believes what he's writing about unschooling, he has a right to be scared and baffled and not thinking clearly! (And, I agree, he's doing some projecting of himself.) Maybe you could say that. Like:
"If that's what you believe unschooling leads to, I understand why you'd be worried and scared for Lukas. But I'm sad that you think I care that little about my son or that I'm so clueless that I would adopt such a harmful lifestyle. Wouldn't it make more sense that those who haven't read about unschooling have drawn wrong conclusions than that I would risk my child's life and future on something that sounds that dangerous?
"I know, not just believe, that learning is far more effective through doing than through sitting in a classroom learning things only to forget them! I want Lukas to spend his time more effectively learning what's meaningful to him, learning through his interests and passions. Despite what a world full of people erroneously believe, it doesn't take 12 years of school to get into college. Unschoolers do go to college and do just fine there. And they go to college for the right reasons: because they want to learn what the college offers, not because it's another set of hoops to jump through to get some job that will pay the mortgage.
"It's never to late to be what you want to be. It's harder as an adult, yes. As adults we're surrounded by people who will tell us it's too much trouble. We may even have decided they're right. But it's a lot easier to achieve something when you decide you can than when you decide you can't."
I came to this list 3 or 4 years ago in the same position. In addition to the arguments of an entire family of school teachers and college professors, unfortunately going through a divorce with an angry spouse I was faced with a judge who hated me, hated homeschooling and of course knew nothing about it.
Nothing has changed. My 2 younger sibs are two highly paid executives for large companies, and although I have provided my folks with enough information on the successes of unschooled children and people, they continue to respond as if they have heard nothing. I recently re-set boundaries with my younger sister (of 8 years) because she was calling my eldest to counsel her so she wouldn't be a bum on the street without her HS diploma or GED. I have also received the very same call (lol) from my brother!!!
What HAS changed is how I respond to them. It has taken me 4 years to stop reacting emotionally to them. It has been hard. I used to feel so angry, as if I was the only one going through this. My focus instead of being on my children was removed from them and wasted energy.
There will always be your brother or someone else unable to see that unschooling is the best way for you and the way you THE PARENT (capitalized to emphasize the due respect that comes with the title) has chosen to educate your children. That is enough.
That being said I ditto all the wonderful advice that has been given to you by those in this list. Take a deep breath!!