When you to choose to attachment parent and then home school you are pretty used to swimming upstream.
I know things are a lot better than they used to be- years ago when some one asked my daughter why she wasn’t in school and the reply is “we homeschool” we would usually get responds like “what’s that” or “is that legal?”. Now we are more likely to get a “oh, my sister does that” or “my neighbor is unschooling” , etc. Even so, if you have chosen to co-sleep or chosen to continue to nurse pass the one year mark then you may have developed a thicker skin when its comes to homeschooling- let alone unschooling!
My family is pretty much used to my “wacky” parenting. Though, I started out normal and mainstream enough ? .When I was pregnant I owned a retail store and had planned to get a nanny at the 3 week old mark- never really heard of homeschooling ..and I would “try” breastfeeding.
When I was about 3 months pregnant I sold my store. When I was 6 months pregnant my husband and I decided to homeschool.
When my daughter arrived I persevered through breastfeeding despite a bad latch and problems with thrush-and later a then little known condition called Raynaud’s Syndrome ( or sometimes called blanched nipple) . The baby slept with us.
I decided to nurse until she was 4 months old- the then recommended age. Then til 6 months, then a year. She self-weaned at 31/2 .
My mom has always been supportive of my choices- whether she agrees or not and my dad and I don’t talk about it much. He did once have long conversation with me about his worries that E. wouldn’t get into University and then a baffling argument about how was she going to get through life if she didn’t encounters bullying and social pressures of school (!).
When it comes to our parenting and unschooling- one of my great sadness’s is the discord my brother and me. The silent ( at least to me) disapproval is palpable. He and his wife often exchange looks between each other. Last year they left their 4 year old and 1 year old with a complete stranger to go on holidays rather than leave them with us. To them we don’t teach our kids enough authority, we don’t make our kids “eat just 3 more bites of broccoli” our kids sleep when they are tired and can watch TV if they feel like it. All the things most homeschool/unschool parents have come across.
It is painful. I can let my neighbors raised eye-brows roll off my back. I could care less what my dentist thinks. I don’t even mind that they are passing judgment on us I am saddened that I don’t have a closer relationship with my brother- and my nieces- because my brother and his wife think we are bad parents.
I feel like I have missed out on a big part of my brother’s life. He would never dream of calling and asking for my help or advice. When we get together there is unspoken agreement that we won’t talk about kids or parenting- which is HUGE part of my life.
Last week my well- meaning sister told me she had defended me against my brother and sister-in-law. They were in a heated discussion argument about our unschooling, my parenting ability – and the level of my housekeeping (!) . I was pretty upset by some of the things relayed to me. I thought about it for a while… my husband was pretty mad .
My brother is just like others who react negatively about homeschooling. It isn’t about ME. Unschooling or homeschooling or they way I parent forces him to think about his own fears and doubts. It might mean that he has to re-examine his own parenting choices. Or maybe they shouldn’t have done this or that. I have found without question that its the people and parents who are insecure about there own abilities and choices that are the most critical. They are scared. Scared they aren’t doing the right things, that the school system might be failing them, that they are buying their kids enough, don’t spend enough time with their children, etc. That cleaning their house for 3 hours a day doesn’t really matter or mean anything and maybe that means they have wasted all that time…
I also thought about my mother- who has always shown respect to both of us and never chosen sides – because she knows the damage done by a family feud. A fight that in the grand scheme of things doesn’t’ t matter. She and her brother, my uncle, have not spoken in almost 20 years. Her mother and brother- my grandmother’s son did not speak for 15 years. He visited her once when he thought she was dying. She dies a year later and he did not come to her funeral. My uncle who I was so close to growing up has never met my kids. Why? No one really knows. They have forgotten.
So, am I hurting about my own brother? Yup. Do I wish we could all hang out together and enjoy a deeper friendship? Yup. Am i willing to cut him out of my life? No. It just isn’t worth it.
I see him about 5 times a year. I certainly won’t have ANY influence on his parenting or his children if I never see them. Maybe being around him will actually help him see there is a better way- an easier way.
If you are having a conflict over homeschooling with your family- try and keep things in perspective, and yes- take the higher ground.
I am of course not talking about a family member that undermines you constantly or derides or humiliates you or your kids. A bad relationship is a bad relationship.
It is better for your kids that they have some relationship with a less than perfect uncle/grandmother/great aunt that loves them than no relationship at all. Understand that they are looking at their own fear of failure and it really isn’t about you.