Homeschoolers: Stop Freaking Out About Holiday Family Get-Togethers
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Aw, holiday get-togethers with extended family. All the togetherness, food, conversation, and…
…the questions. The judgement. The desire to hang out at the punch bowl and add a lil’ something to it because you just know Uncle Matthew is going to be on your case again about homeschooling.
The struggle. It can be so real. I mean, I hear you, mama.
But after hearing so. many. moms. talk about how the holidays stress them out as a homeschooler because the extended family get-togethers are nothing but questions and judgement and misunderstanding, I’m going to offer up one little suggestion to help things go a smidge better.
Here it is.
We need to stop freaking out.
Why? Well. Here are a few reasons that I think we need to calm down about all the stress and chaos we envision being brought into our family get-together by the fact that we—gasp—homeschool.
1. You’re making it worse than it is.
Part of the reason you dread this holiday get together is because you’ve known this holiday was coming (since the last time you celebrated this holiday) and you’ve built it up to be more than what it is.
Let’s keep this in perspective. It’s a day. It’s just one day. And how long are you there? A few hours.
Sometimes the problem is that we walk in ready to fight. We walk in expecting people to blast us with questions. We walk in having played out all these scenarios in our head and come up with multiple endings for how they will play out.
(Don’t lie—you have so done that.)
Here’s the thing, fellow homeschoolers.
People have grumbled about getting together with their extended family since forever. Homeschoolers don’t get the monopoly on this simply because they’ve chosen to do something that’s seen as “different”.
I guarantee your dad had the same disdain for holiday get-togethers when he had to see his brother. Your grandma rolled her eyes about the holiday meal when she knew it meant seeing her mother-in-law.
And where does this grumbling and sighing come from? Why are we rolling our eyes and trying to get out of it? It’s because…
2. Part of the issue is you have a history with these people.
It’s not just that they’re going to bring up homeschooling. It’s that you’re still mad about the fact that two years ago you asked your sister-in-law if you could borrow her camper and she said no—but then told her co-worker yes.
You’re still angry about the fact that the last time your brother planned a party at his lake home, you’re almost positive he purposely planned it for the weekend you had to work.
You’re still upset that out of the five siblings in your family, it seems like you’re always the last one to find anything out.
Part of your stress is history and relationships and what has happened up until now. Think about it—if some stranger quizzes your kid in the grocery store, it’s annoying—but 9 times out of 10 it’s not going to affect you to the same degree as if your mother/brother/grandma does the same thing.
Sometimes your cousin can ask you a question about homeschooling that makes you see red, but if your bestie from the gym asked you the same thing, you wouldn’t bat an eye.
It’s almost as if we approach the extended family holiday get together, constantly wondering what’s behind the homeschooling question. What’s the real reason they’re asking.
Because they couldn’t possibly…just be asking, right?
3. Hey. Questions are okay.
People ask a question because they don’t know the answer. And that’s okay.
Our entire life is built on questions. Part of the great thing about being a homeschooler is that you get to ask so many questions.
Why do we so deeply hate questions that are asked of us? Think of those questions as an opportunity to educate. Like…home educating your extended family on the topic of home education. Beautiful!
Don’t assume that everyone who brings up homeschooling is looking for a fight. When we respond with defensiveness on our mind, we create an atmosphere where no one can ask us anything about how we spend our days. And you know who actually suffers in that case?
4. Some people are jerks.
I can hear you now saying, “but you haven’t met my aunt! You haven’t heard the ridiculous things she’s asked or said about homeschooling!”
Listen. And I’m going to be totally honest here: your aunt is not a jerk just because she asks about or makes off handed comments about homeschooling.
Your aunt might be a jerk just because she’s a jerk.
We all know that person who will trash what we do—no matter what we do—just because it’s who they are. And someone who has the audacity to make a scene at the holiday dinner in order to tell you you’re ruining your kids by choosing to homeschool them?
Well, that tells us everything we need to know about them, doesn’t it?
It says nothing about you.
Let it go.
5. Stop getting riled up.
Someone generally brings up homeschooling because:
a) they have genuine questions and want to know more about it, or,
b) they want to get you riled up.
Listen. If someone has questions, answer them.
But if someone wants to get you riled up, the point is to not let them get you riled up.
And why should it?
(Not in a jerk face, passive-aggressive way. Just in a why are we so worried about this again? sort of way.)
Have you ever seen this bullying video? It talks about how bullying is actually the desire for someone to control you and the issue comes in when you start to butt heads and everything escalates.
The video talks about bullying being a game of winning and losing, and the way you can win is by not getting upset. When you don’t get upset, the bully feels they have lost. And who wants to continue to play a game when they feel that they’re losing?
Watch the video. Seriously. It will give you a different way to look at people who tell you they don’t agree with you or what you’re doing. And although it was made as a tool for kids in school, the tactics can work in any situation for anyone of any age who feels they’re being told they are less than, worthless, stupid, or wrong.
You know, like when Uncle Matthew says you’re probably not smart enough to each your kids.
6. Remember, the world is big.
Homeschooling is awesome.
Not everyone agrees.
And that’s okay.
Let’s eat turkey or ham or open gifts or sing carols or play cards or laugh at Grandpa who has fallen asleep in the chair.
We’re all going to survive. I promise.