When Grandparents Disagree with Homeschooling: Tips and Advice

When you first make the choice to homeschool, what you need and want most is support. And naturally, where do you look first for that support? Family, and almost always, your parents. Now if grandparents have been unsupportive and critical of your parenting decisions from the start, their criticisms of homeschooling probably won’t surprise you. But if, on the other hand, you are used to unwavering support for your parenting choices, opposition to homeschooling may come as a shock.

Whatever your experience in the past, keep in mind that unless you are a second-generation homeschooler, homeschooling isn’t an obvious choice. As much as it has progressed over the years, homeschooling is far from mainstream. You are choosing an educational option that is far from vetted with no guarantees of a successful outcome—at least in their minds. You are putting their precious grandchildren’s future at risk, and they probably won’t keep quiet about it.

Personally, my parents are former teachers and administrators in the public school system. They seem to love the fact that my kids aren’t exposed to the (what they call) garbage of public schools, Common Core, and the non-stop standardized testing. But at the same time, they often make comments about homeschooling that seem a bit disparaging of my choice. 

So what can you do when grandparents voice their criticisms and concerns of your choice to homeschool? For all of you dealing with more extreme opposition, my heart goes out to you. Homeschooling is hard enough without grandparents hating it. While the interactions I’ve experienced haven’t been that extreme, I want to offer you the tips and advice that have helped me thus far. 

1. Remember Grandparents Want What’s Best for Their Grandkids

While this isn’t always the case, most grandparents love their grandchildren and want the best possible outcome for them. When they express concerns—directly or indirectly—it comes from a place of love and concern. They probably don’t want to pick a fight.

2. Resist the Urge to Engage the Negative Comments 

When the negative comments and questions come, resist the urge to engage in a debate or lengthy conversation. It's kind of like politics on Facebook: pretty much no one ever has changed their mind because of a political debate in a Facebook thread, right? We share things that reinforce what we believe to be true, and other side does the same.

You are probably not going to change their mind about homeschooling with a conversation. Hopefully that will happen when they see evidence in the superior outcomes that your style of education provides. Choose to quickly move past the comments and change the subject. If they insist on returning to it, see the next tip.

3. Devise a Canned Response

In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say things we regret. Or worse, in my opinion, to get flustered and look like an idiot just when you want to impress them with your witty response. Instead, choose a predetermined response that leaves no room for debate or discussion. Here are a few I keep handy:

  • Homeschooling is the best choice for our family right now.
  • I'm glad regular school worked best for us growing up. Homeschooling is working really well for us.
  • I appreciate your concern, but right now, homeschooling is working really well for us.
  • Socialization? We've got it covered. Thanks!

I’m sure you can come up with better ones, but make sure they are not baiting, sarcastic, or defensive. Make it short and sweet, polite but firm, with no room for further discussion.

4. Set Boundaries with Grandparents 

Depending on how antagonistic—or passive-aggressive—the grandparents actually are, you may need to set firm boundaries about what they can and cannot say to your kids. For example, have you noticed that certain people love quizzing homeschooled kids? They are determined to prove that homeschooling is a poor educational choice.

While some kids can take that kind of interrogation without batting an eye, some kids will walk away from a Q&A session extremely anxious, wondering if they measure up. Other times, grandparents might suggest to your kids all the fun things about school they are missing out on:

  • “Wouldn’t you love to see other kids every day?”
  • “Buying school supplies is so much fun!”
  • “Putting on the school play was one of my favorite memories from school. Don’t you wish you could be in a play?”

Whatever grandparents might say to your kids about homeschooling or traditional school, make sure you have a conversation with them to establish guidelines for what is okay and not okay. Those guidelines will likely vary based on how anti-homeschooling they actually are and how confrontational they tend to be. It doesn’t need to a be a long conversation, but you should be clear about a few main points:

When Grandparents Disagree with Homeschooling: Tips and Advice

  • You hear and understand that they don’t love homeschooling.
  • You know they love your kids and want what’s best for them.
  • You are the parent and you will continue to make the best decisions you can for your kids, including the educational ones.
  • They cannot undermine your decision via your kids. And if they persist in their attempts to do so, you will need to set stricter boundaries about how often they interact with your kids alone.

Surround Yourself with Supporters

When the people closest to you don’t agree with your choice to homeschool, you can start to doubt your decision. Those first few months of homeschooling can be so tough. You don’t really know what you’re doing yet. You haven’t fully found your footing, and you desperately need to believe that you made the right choice.

You need to surround yourself with like-minded homeschooling parents—both newbies and veterans. You need cheerleaders, parents who will encourage and support you. Whether you find that those people in person or online, make sure to set aside time to find them. You’re going to need a place to vent, a shoulder to cry on, and a pat on the back to let you know you’re doing great.

Final Thoughts on When Grandparents Disagree with Homeschooling

Change is hard. Change is even harder as you get older. When our society has so normalized school that any other choice is taboo, you need to expect questions and stares and criticisms, even from those closest to you. People fear what they don’t know. Grandparents might also have experiences with homeschool families that are less than ideal—the ones who give homeschooling a bad name.

Either way, remember to stay humble in all of this because honestly, we don't know our kids’ educational outcomes either! We can do all the right things, but we still cannot guarantee a fantastic educational outcome for our kids, any more than traditional schools can. The schools just happen to already have the benefit of the doubt. As homeschoolers, we are still earning ours.

Grandparents might eventually come around, when they see homeschooling really working for your kids. But it may take them longer than you’d like. Hang in there while you wait. And whatever you do, don’t let their negativity make you question your choice to homeschool.

You will always find people who don’t love your parenting choices. You can choose to let the questions cripple you, or you can choose to let them strengthen your parenting muscles and increase your confidence.  The choice is up to you.

About the Author

june doranJune loves deep discussions about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging at This Simple Balance, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with four kids ages eight and under doesn’t happen very often!


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