If you are like most home educators, you and your spouse have in-laws and most of the time it is fun to be around them.
Because of their age, experience, and wisdom, they know you could still learn something from them, if necessary, but good in-laws bite their tongues a lot. Mine do, and so do my husband’s.
Why? They realize that too much good advice will ruin something more important: their relationship with you. They prefer to allow you to make your mistakes and learn on your own. They have decided long ago to remain silent about your decisions if it does not seem too important.
When you decide to home school, you put your in-laws in a tough place. They can no longer hold their peace if they truly balk at what you are doing.
Many people lack the vision for home schooling. Your in-laws may be among those many. Sometimes they fear their grandchildren will lose something they fought hard to obtain for you: free formal education. They cannot grasp the high level of corruption and inefficiency that you can plainly see has crept into the worldly system, tying the hands of even the most dedicated teachers.
And some of them are public educators, themselves—yikes!
With a lack of understanding comes the tendency to relate according to feelings.
What do they feel?
First, your in-laws may feel hurt.
Everything they did, likely, was to create a perfect environment for you.
Some of them had parents or grandparents who spoke broken English because they came here from elsewhere, to have better things for you.
It has always been a matter of family pride. Just as you now are pouring everything into your children’s well-being, so they, once, poured everything into your well being. They worked hard “to put shoes on your feet” so that you could have an education.
Perhaps they both worked outside the home to give you opportunities that you would not have had. They do not realize that perhaps this physical absence in your life made you unable to share with them when hard things were happening to you “out there”.
Perhaps they remember only the fun experiences in the worldly schools of their day. Perhaps they even are worldly, themselves, and cannot see what is the matter. To them, it appears that you are throwing away all they did for you and, in effect, saying it was not good, or not good enough.
Your in-laws also may feel fear.
Not too long ago, anyone with a high school diploma was a real success. Back then, anyone who accomplished a college degree was almost venerated.
Teachers, extremely educated educators, could not possibly be wrong, right? They almost unanimously say that their ways are the right ways, right? How could anyone in his right mind just throw away all that expertise? How could anyone stand in the face of such authority?
If your in-laws have noticed the reports of high school, and even college graduates, who barely can read and cipher, they feel that those must be exceptions that happen in “some other state”.
If they have read your child’s copy work with glaring grammatical errors copied from the worldly school chalkboard, they fear the child must have miscopied it.
They fear that no one could do a good job without an entire school district backing him.
They fear it is dangerous to entrust the education of children to people who, themselves, do not have education degrees.
Your in-laws may also feel embarrassed.
To the courageous, it can seem like a shameful thing to quit.
They would not lightly lay down the fight for an education. Even children who have difficult handicaps go to school, right?
We all should fight to make our entire nation well-educated, right?
They wonder what’s wrong, that their grandchildren cannot “get along” at school.
They wonder if your children have “mental problems” that you are trying to hide.
They wonder if it is a cult. The whole thing just seems too “otherworldly” to them.
How dumb can it be to pay taxes for education and then buy all those books!
Yes, dear home educator, if your in-laws are very slow to accept your decisions, you may have a tough convincing task to attempt. You can ruin a relationship with extremely important people if you ignore the feelings of family members.