Unschooling Criticism from Friends and Family

Critical family and friends blog

This recording was done prior to the winter holidays, when families are often trying to get together (even though 2020 was certainly an odd one for that!)

But we're having so many questions lately about how to deal with criticism from family and friends, when we're exploring or deciding to unschool!  I wanted to make this available to everyone.

Many people face a lot of criticism when they begin to explore or decide to start unschooling. You may not even have had the opportunity to say what’s so great about unschooling - before they start launching into their concerns about homeschooling in general! Most of us have been there!
I want to get you some resources and talk to you a little bit about this. 😅 Feel free to leave a meme or gif about dealing with criticism in the comments below. Some of them are really funny and might help someone stressing out.

A Few Things to Remember:

🌻 Your decision to “go a different way” may make them feel defensive about their own choices. Remembering this may help you react with a little more compassion. They’re operating from a place of fear.
 
🌻 It’s interesting how everyone is all for individualism - until you want to do something different! The status quo is such a safe place for many people. Even when they can see the problems with the school system. It’s a pretty ingrained idea. It’s also why you have your own doubts from time to time!
 
🌻 You don’t have to be the poster child for Unschooling. You can still call it “homeschooling” if that helps the conversation go smoothly. Use the word unschooling for finding other like-minded people or doing your own internet research. Staying more generic might help as you’re growing your own confidence in this approach.
 

🌻 Sometimes their fears tap into fears you haven’t worked through yet. Look at this list of Unschooling Guides and see if diving deeper on particular topics would help you get on steadier ground.

These interactions may point out how you need to do a little more deschooling or internal work to understand unschooling better. The Jumping Into Unschooling Course can help you with that.
 
🌻 You know your family and friends. You may even be able to predict what they’re going to have the most trouble with.
  • Are they worried about preparing for the “high school” years or college?
  • Is their concern about gaps or competition with other kids?
  • Do they have a rose-colored glasses view of what school is like?
  • Do they have doubts about your capabilities to pull this off?
Thinking ahead of time about where their (or your) concerns are, will help you know what additional information you need.
 
🌻 Remember that you are the parent now. Your kids are YOUR responsibility, not theirs. Your friends and family may not be adjusting well to the idea that the roles are changing. But it’s up to us to make our boundaries clear.
 
 

So, on to some resources!

 
Blogposts (Collection about Critics)So many to read right here!
 

Podcast: Unschooling Criticism from Family and Friends (Listen to the link at the top of this blogpost)

 
Unschooling Guide: Critics and Naysayers
This mini-magazine is full of helpful suggestions for responses but also to help your with your own nagging doubts that might be having an influence on how the conversations are going. Read more about it.
 
*If you like the podcast or the video, please subscribe/follow/comment. This will help others find the resource!

Creating Confidence Membership


And sometimes you need more support from others who are choosing this path too. Join my coaching group and receive coaching calls and a members-only portal full of information that will help you! We even have an entire section of resources specifically devoted to dealing with critics!

Podcast Transcript:

Hi Everybody!
As we approach the holidays, unschooling families often have a lot more "family input" than usual. And family members may not be crazy about this educational choice you've made.​

This week, I want to focus on helping you figure out how to cope with the criticism that may be coming your way. Whether you're meeting in person or through a Zoom call, we can sometimes feel like we're in the "hot seat."

Some people worry that being on a Zoom call for the family get-together will make it harder. Questions will be directed at you about homeschooling. And there will be no quick exit or distraction technique for you to use like you would if the get together was in person.

But I think if we talk about it a little bit today, you can get calmer and realize you DO have a lot of choices in where to go with this line of questioning.

First of all, remember that you are an adult.
And this get-together is a choice. One that you can change even once you're in there!

So breathe a little and let's get you some confidence!

Next, it helps to know the answers to these questions. It will help you decide your next steps.

  • Are they genuinely wanting to know more information?
  • Are they open to learning more about how this can work?
  • Or do they just want to say why they think this is a bad idea - and they want you to reconsider.

A couple quick answers:

"We're doing an individualized experiential approach to learning - backed up by all the latest research."

"We'll only do this as long as it keeps working."

"We're really enjoying our time together as a family. It's nice to have a break from all of the stress out there these days."

If they are open to more information, offer to email it to them later. They may be curious for their own kids. Or maybe they just want to understand what you're doing.

Acknowledge the criticism (or advice) and change the subject - often the easiest approach.
You don't have to be the walking billboard for Unschooling. You can simply tell them,

​"Hmm. Interesting perspective." or

​"Interesting. I hadn't thought of that." or

​"Yes, we're watching for that all the time."

Remember, you don't have to engage.

You don't have to defend anything.
You don't have to try to convince them you're right.
You can simply sidestep the argument.

You can stand firm in your beliefs - and not even share your ideas with them. Brene Brown talks about only sharing your vulnerabilities with people who've earned the right to be one of your trusted people. Even though they're family, they may not really be in this "inner circle." That's ok too.

Try to have an open mind. Understand that most of the time (especially when it comes from loved ones) the criticism is coming because they are people who care about you and and they care about your child. They're operating out of fear and lack of information. When we remember this, we can sometimes feel more compassionate toward them. Less defensive.

Last things to remember:

  1. You don’t have to win them over.
  2. They don't get a vote in what you do with your own kids.
  3. There will be other opportunities for your families to reconnect.

So, as we go into the holidays in these next few weeks, I want you to have extra resources to help you.
Naysayers and Rude Relatives video
Extra articles linked below. [above actually]
Critics and Naysayers Unschooling Guide

I think you're all set and ready to face them. Let me know if there's anything more I can do to help you out.

I will be back with you again next week. Take care.

One thought on “Unschooling Criticism from Friends and Family

  1. Amity Swain says:

    Recognizing that well-meaning friends and family members question and advise because they care about our kids, and also because making a different choice feels like it threatens their choices, my husband and I came up with a phrase to acknowledge both of these feelings and hopefully forestall further discussion: “It’s not for everyone, but it’s the right choice for our family.” We’ll see how well this works!

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