This post was originally going to be titled “Seven Things To Do When a Friend Decides to Stop Homeschooling” and was based on my recent experience watching several long time homeschooling friends decide to enroll some or all of their children in school. But that seemed a bit narrow and also, in discussing the topic with my husband, I realized that the thoughts I wanted to share could relate to many other circumstances. So you can read it as someone who is losing a long-term homeschooling friend to private school, or a private school friend to homeschool or as anyone whose has had a friend give up something you both once passionately supported.
In all these situations, your knee jerk reaction might be disappointment, or even anger. Personally, I felt like I was losing a member of my super secret club to a rival club. But I’ve always said homeschooling is a year by year decision, and I want to totally support my friends who’ve decided that public or private school is what’s best for their families. I figured if I had to honestly admit to, and work through these feelings, maybe other people did too. So here’s seven things to keep in mind when someone who’s been in the trenches with you for years changes their mind and joins “the other side”.
1. First and foremost, you don’t need to do anything. There’s nothing you need to say or steps you need to take, because above all, this decision has absolutely nothing to do with you and your family and everything do to with your friend choosing to do what’s best right now for herself and her family.
2. It’s all too common to internalize the decisions of others and see them as judgements against ourselves and our life choices when it’s not (see #1). Just because your friend has decided to no longer homeschool or eat vegetarian or be a SAHM doesn’t mean she thinks any less of your decision to do so. When she says, “I can’t adequately homeschool all my kids. We decided to enroll them in public school because they were falling behind in their subjects at home.” Don’t let yourself hear “It’s impossible to homeschool a bunch of kids without them falling behind in their subjects” and get all defensive.
3. Don’t worry that the friendship is over. Your relationship doesn’t abruptly end once the situation that brought you together changes. It will hopefully adapt. You may need to work harder to stay in touch. If your children are friends, they will probably help remind you, and one of the positive aspects of social media is the ability to remain in close contact with people you no longer run into on a regular basis.
4. Understand that your friend doesn’t owe you an explanation. Maybe she’ll give you one. You can politely ask, but if she doesn’t feel like breaking it all down with a Power Point presentation, you’ll have to accept the situation as it is. Don’t assume, over-think or over-analyze things. There’d be a lot less to talk about on Facebook if we could just all accept each others’ parenting decisions as prayerfully considered, based in love and with the individual temperaments of our children in mind.
5. Be happy for them. Unless what they’re doing is a grave mortal sin (and last time I checked bottle feeding and public school didn’t fall in this category), be happy and support a decision that likely aims to improve their life, alleviate stress and create a better home environment. And don’t talk about their decision as if it’s temporary. Maybe you hope they’ll change their mind, however, assume the switch is permanent.
6. Avoid envy. Maybe you really do want to leave your job to stay at home or enroll your kids in private school but it’s just not in the cards. Now, rather than having someone to commiserate with, you feel unfairly left behind. Take these feelings first to confession, and work extra hard on #5 for your own sanity. Pray about the path your on, whether by choice or circumstance and work on offering up the hardships and especially on finding things to be grateful for in your daily life, even if it’s not ideal.
7. Remember now that when you talk about “those people” who don’t do things exactly like you, you’re now talking about your friend. Perhaps people who choose another path aren’t so bad after all?
How was your week? Be sure to write it down then link it up below. Don’t forget to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!