Overview: Your teen hates homeschooling high school, and no one is happy. In this heartfelt article, a mom who has been there shares insightful ideas for getting you through.
“Uuuuuuuugggggggghhhhhh!! WHY do I have to homeschool all the way through high school??? Why can’t I just go to public school like all the normal kids? I’m such a freak! I HATE THIS!!”
And so it begins. Again. And for about the gazillionth time you wonder if maybe you should go ahead and give them what they want and send them to the local school. Because phew, it sure would make life easier than this struggle with a bad attitude EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Assignments aren’t getting done, learning is not happening, and the tension is palpable. This is exhausting! And NO ONE is happy. There are too many tears — often yours! Maybe it’s time to change the plan.
What to do and NOT do when your teen hates homeschooling high school
Well, I have always said that every family must decide for themselves whether or not to homeschool. There is no shame if you decide that it is not the best thing for your family.
But I personally don’t think you should give up that easily.
“Wait, what are you talking about??” you say. “THIS IS HARD. I have TRIED, all right? I am not giving up ‘easily,’ but there comes a time when enough is enough. Sheesh!”
And you may be right. But I’d like to give you some things to think about first. As a mom who has stuck it out through four homeschool graduations (one more to go), I’d like to present some ideas that may help your perspective for how to handle it when your teen hates homeschooling high school.
DON’T let your teen decide
There are a lot of people out there who say that your teen should be allowed to decide for themselves how they want to be educated. If the teen wants to go to public school, these people claim, then that’s what should happen, and the parent should go along with that desire.
Ya know what? I don’t agree. Yes, teens have more opinions about things now that they are older, and yes, they should definitely have a say in their education. But I don’t believe that means they get to unilaterally make the “to homeschool or not to homeschool” decision.
In our household we didn’t even allow the topic to come up for discussion very often. We were homeschoolers, and that was it. “You don’t have to like it, kid, but you do have to realize that this is the way it is. So you might as well get used to it.” (Did I just say that out loud? :-) )
I’m sure this sounds hard-hearted and inflexible to some. But the way I look at it, we are fulfilling our parental role by deciding that we know best for our children rather than letting them dictate to us. We, the parents, are the ones with the life experience. We already know what public school is like, so we know all about whatever it is they might be missing by being at home all day. (And it’s not much that’s positive, imho.)
Related Reading: Opportunities My Teens are Missing Because We Homeschool High School
Does this mean we NEVER allowed our teens to express their opinion about this? Of course not. But we didn’t allow them to go on about it day after day. And we certainly didn’t discuss it when their attitudes were bad. If teens want to be allowed to share their concerns, it needs to happen in a respectful manner, hello. So the whining and crying and slamming doors didn’t win any points around here.
Related: Episode 84 – Modeling Respect to Your Teen
I think parents today are scared sometimes to remember that they are the adults, and that their teens are still NOT adults. We win the wisdom competition and the life experience competition and the big-picture perspective competition. Your teen does NOT understand the ramifications of what they’re asking — BUT YOU DO. Don’t be afraid to disagree with them. Don’t be ashamed to pull the parent card. We’re parents; this is what we SHOULD do.
Related: Episode 70 – When Your Teen Disagrees with You
Just like you made sure your littles didn’t run out into the street, things don’t change now that your kid is taller than you are. They still don’t know everything — even though they think they do, lol. If you have good, solid reasons for wanting to homeschool high school, then there is no reason to give into their whining for a social life or to get out of the house.
DO know your WHY
Please take a moment to notice that last sentence: the part where I mentioned having good, solid reasons for wanting to homeschool high school. This is crucial. Why do you want to homeschool high school, anyway? If you know your WHY for keeping your teen at home, very thoughtfully and specifically, then that makes it a lot easier to stand firm when that teen is giving you a hard time.
Related Reading: Why Should You Homeschool High School? Crafting Your Mission Statement
Do dialogue with your teen
Let’s say that your teen IS approaching you calmly and respectfully and wants to propose the idea of forsaking homeschool for a local brick-and-mortar school. Then YES, definitely sit down and dialogue with them. This is very important and should command your full attention.
Don’t just assume you know why they want out — although you might have a good idea, lol — let them express for themselves what their reasons are. Give them the opportunity to tell you exactly what they think is wrong with the homeschooling gig and why they want to go to school instead. LISTEN. They want to be heard, and if they are communicating with humility, then it is mutally respectful of you to give them that chance.
Then, if you have developed your own WHY, you can explain to them all that it is and all that it means. Talk to them like they are someone who deserves an explanation. Let them ask questions. Don’t try to pin them down or tell them how wrong they are; just explain your own position.
And then, when you’ve talked it all out, you can tell them that while you appreciate their point of view, you’re going to have to be the heavy and make this decision against their desires. It’s not easy to do this, and you can tell them that. Tell them you want them to be happy, and you think this is the best way to ensure that over the long haul.
Related: What to Do When Your Homeschooler Refuses to Work
DO meet your teen halfway
Another topic for discussion would be to ask your teen how homeschooling could be better for them. You can meet them halfway, not by giving into their demands, but by showing that you are trying as hard as you can to meet their needs in a way that is more acceptable to you, that works within the realm of homeschool.
Maybe it IS the social aspect of public school that appeals to them. Well, then, it’s up to you to make homeschooling more enjoyable by finding ways they can make new friends.
Maybe they are bored by their curriculum. Then find ways to switch it up. Are you letting them pick what courses they take? This is one way to let them have a say in their education. Give them as much freedom of choice as you can. Find more than one curriculum about a subject and let them choose which one they want to use.
Related: Episode 61 – How to Involve Your Teen in the High School Planning Process
Maybe they don’t understand their work. Then make yourself more available to them, or hire a tutor, or enroll them in an online class with a “real” teacher.
Maybe they think you’re hovering too much. Then step back and let them enjoy a little more self-determination. Or a LOT more. At this stage they could truly be handling ALL of their schooling all by themselves. So let them, if that is what they want. Or at least start working towards that goal.
If you’re worried they won’t be diligent, then perhaps outside accountability is what is needed. Any type of co-op, or an online class with an actual teacher and definite schedule, or dual enrollment, or tutoring — these can help a lot to encourage a teen to get off their you-know-what and do decent work.
And now it’s time for them to make a choice: the choice to either abide by your decision, to prove that they are as mature as they say they are by giving in gracefully and with a good attitude; or to rebel against what you’ve said and make life miserable for everyone, including themselves.
What if they take the second path? What if you’ve had this big, long talk, you’re adapting your homeschooling to their concerns, and they STILL want to be difficult about the whole thing?
As one who has had to deal with this personally, I say give it time. Be patient. Stand firm, show love and affection, praise them, encourage them, come alongside them in whatever way you can. If homeschooling is truly what you think is best, then you can work through even this.
One thing to remember is that senioritis is a thing. So if this bad attitude has just come on fairly suddenly since last year, and your kid is due to graduate in May, then that might be all this is. ALL of my kids had it to one degree or another. They were SO READY TO BE DONE. And that can look a lot like what we’ve been talking about.
The difference is that they don’t hate you, or even school, in their more lucid moments. They can usually actually see when they’re being unreasonable, even if it is only grudgingly admitted. They still do (most of) their work, albeit maybe not thoroughly or well. Truly, they are just counting the days.
Be reassured that senioritis is only temporary, and all you have to do is make it through to graduation. Then it does get better, really. Hang in there!
DO be realistic
With the kid who just has a bad attitude and it never gets better — and even with the senioritis kid — sometimes you gotta realize that while you are standing your ground and staying the homeschool course, at the same time you can’t hold very high expectations for the quality level of the schooling that occurs.
Can I speak plainly for a second?? Be honest: what do you really remember from high school? Not much, if you’re like me. Do you really think that just because our kids are homeschooling, they will remember very much of what they learn right now? I think realistically we have to say no.
Yet we have these grand ideas of days filled with learning that are rife with educational breakthroughs and moments, when everyone is thrilled by what they’re reading and are willing to write at length about it and present to one and all, and everyone is happy, and we all feel so fulfilled.
Anyone really have ANY days like that? I don’t recall that many, even with the kids who were the better students. We had MOMENTS like that, but we certainly weren’t characterized by that type of atmosphere on a daily basis.
Yet we all have this dream that we’ll get there — if only our kids would cooperate, lol. Well, sometimes they just won’t; and in that case, I advise that we stop fighting against reality.
Sometimes you just gotta grit your teeth and get through it, even if it ain’t pretty. Sometimes for the sake of that we-WILL-homeschool-through-high-school mountain that we want to die on (and it’s a very valid one to pick, I think), then we need to relax our standards and our expectations and make the act of schooling easier for the hormonal ball of frustration — aka the teen — that we are dealing with.
Forget about that 20-page research paper; turn it into a 5-paragraph essay instead. Drop the dry, boring textbook and find some workbook texts in their place. Don’t do midterms and finals AT ALL. Cut down on the number of credits you think are necessary. Find other ways to earn credits, like getting a job or volunteering or making a project.
My personal feeling is that the relationship is way more important than the assignment. If the assignment isn’t working, find some way to adapt it so that it will. If the course isn’t working, go ahead and drop it.
NO, this is not the same thing as letting your teen “win.” This is called adapting to the individual needs of your child, who is obviously frustrated with the status quo, for whatever reason. High school does NOT have to be that hard for them OR you.
Do feel free to remind them that all these choices that they are making, to ditch the harder work in favor of the easier, may come back to bite them, if they can’t get into the college they want or get the job they applied for because they didn’t stick it out in Chemistry or Algebra 2. Or if they get to college and get an F on their first paper because they never learned how to do one when they had the chance.
Sometimes your words will make a difference; sometimes they won’t. LOL.
DO carefully consider the alternative
If all else fails, and you are still slogging through the mud of frustration, and the battle still rages day after day, you might think you want to do public school after all. Please only do this after considering very carefully.
Did you know that public high schools often don’t take homeschool credits? This is SO WRONG, but unfortunately it can be very true. Check with yours before making any promises to your kid about sending them there.
Remember, too, that like families, public schools may seem great from the outside, but when you get to know them better, there may be issues you weren’t aware of. Peer pressure, drugs and alcohol, sexual promiscuity — this is not what the school presents to the world, but this IS what goes on. And teachers are not the educational gurus you might think they are. I wrote a comparison of public school vs. homeschooling here: Homeschooling vs. Public School: From a Mom Who Has Taught Both.
Also, consider the fact that your teen’s response to homeschooling is a window into their character and their spiritual/emotional maturity. Your kid with the bad attitude is actually in a spot where they need you now more than ever, although they don’t realize it. Do you really want to farm them out to someone else for most of the day to figure it out on their own? Or worse, to figure it out based on the influence of teachers/students who don’t have the same behavioral code as you do? Don’t forget that if they have a bad attitude about doing schoolwork at home, going to the local school does not guarantee a change for the better. They may still hate their schoolwork just as much there. How is that an improvement?
There are no easy answers to any of this. Our kids grow up and become individuals, and sometimes those individuals can be really challenging, can’t they? Sigh. But we still love them and want what’s best for them, and that’s what we need to cling to.
Here’s my final piece of advice: try to think about how you will feel 10 years from now. Will you be glad you stuck it out, even if it wasn’t everything you had hoped it would be?
I know I am. I think you will be, too. Hang in there.
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55 thoughts on “When Your Teen Hates Homeschooling High School… what to do and what NOT to do”
An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who has been conducting a little homework on this.
And he actually ordered me lunch because I stumbled upon it for him…
lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your internet site.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. “I” just made the decision to homeschool my son through high school. I could relive each and every word of yours that talked about arguments, decision-making, good days and bad days of homeschool !
I think we all have experienced this same thing, Saman. I’m so glad you were encouraged!
Wow! This post says it all and spoke to me profoundly because this is our last year ever of homeschool ( youngest graduates next year) , and it has been my hardest so far. He is definitely strong willed ,and it’s been draining, but I know God will give me the strength….to cross the finish line!
Woot, you go, girl! Almost there! Woot! :-) :-)
This article is trash. If your kid wants to go to school, let them. Signed, a former homeschooler.
Hi Jimmy, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Apparently it wasn’t for you or your family. But for many it works great. Signed, a successful homeschooler.
Hope you’ll remember this thread in a few years when your kids start to resent you – and in another ten when you only hear from them once a year around Christmas.
Well, considering I have a 25yo, 23yo, 22yo, and 20yo who have all graduated from our homeschool, each of whom I speak/text with several times a week by phone, I don’t see that happening. It’s not easy raising kids, I’ll grant you that, but homeschooling is not THE reason for relationship problems. The type of situation you’re talking about is caused by much larger issues that, in my opinion, would very likely have occured with any type of educational model, including public or private school. But since I have no experience other than homeschooling, which didn’t hinder great family unity for us, I won’t try to speak authoritatively on any other circumstance.
Hmm, many adults who were in the public school system, resent their parents today. Resentment and not speaking aren’t from homeschooling. They are from deeper family issues.
Sometimes that’s the right move, and sometimes it’s not. Doesn’t make the article “trash.” I’m sorry your experience was so miserable. Mine was not.
For any homeschool moms genuinely reading this article looking for advice: this is not a healthy view point and is terrible advice.
I was homeschooled from kindergarten until graduation, and yes, there are definitely benefits to homeschooling. I am not anti-homeschool in the slightest. However, if your child wants to go to school YOU SHOULD LET THEM AT LEAST TRY IT. Homeschooling is not for every person, and that’s okay!
Listen to your child- and I’m not talking about the “listening” described in this article. I mean actually listen and consider what they want as more than a last ditch effort. Your child is more than an object or disobedient dog that exists for you to order around. Teenagers have individual emotional needs and feelings that an unyielding, controlling approach completely disregards. One size does not fit all, and treating your child as if it does is disrespectful to their individuality.
Not to mention, expecting your child to “prove” their maturity to you by “giving in gracefully,” as opposed to being rightfully upset that their opinion was completely disregarded, is a huge issue. First of all, your child should NEVER be the one responsible for coming to you in a “respectful and mature” way to talk to you about something that’s genuinely distressing them. If your child has gotten to the point of screaming and crying about something it is time to either diffuse or have a talk. YOU are the adult, and YOU are responsible for making sure your child’s emotional needs are being met.
At the point of a teenager screaming and crying about something like this, SOMETHING IS CLEARLY WRONG. It is up to YOU, as a parent, to find out what that is. Abuse? Depression? Anxiety? There will always be something you don’t know, and keeping yourself emotionally unavailable is NOT a good idea if you want to ensure your child’s safety.
I’m here to say what very few other people have: it’s okay if your kid wants to attend public school and has decided homeschool isn’t for them.
It doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means that as a different, complex person, they might need something more than you can currently give them. So why purposely neglect those feelings? Don’t ignore what your children want. They know their emotional state better than you do, even if it’s hard to accept.
Listen, I’ll say it: ignoring your child’s emotional needs is abuse. It will only hurt them and this is one of the biggest reasons there are homeschool recovery groups. Isolation in homeschoolers is actually a big concern, and this method isolates your child from their needs, from other people, and from you.
Don’t abuse your kids in the name of parenting, folks. Stay safe and happy homeschooling!
Hi Honey, I find it interesting that you read all these terrible things into this article. Of course homeschooling is not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean that I’m wrong or that my viewpoint is “unhealthy.” The points that you make in this comment seem to me to be overblown accusations that are unfounded when you actually read the article with full intent to understand. And frankly, I agree with you: it IS “ok that your teen wants to attend public school and has decided homeschool isn’t for them.” They can certainly have those feelings without being judged for them, and I never implied ignoring those feelings or “neglecting” them or being “disrespectful to their individuality.” But when it comes to the teen being the final decision-maker—THAT, in my viewpoint, is unhealthy. Not (Never? Really?) expecting them to communicate with respect or maturity, even about something that they feel deeply about, is unhealthy. Do they “know their emotional state better than you do”? Sure. But do they know what’s best for them better than their parent does? Can’t agree on that one. To throw the word “abuse” around about rational parenting that takes the whole picture into consideration and is willing to compromise for the benefit of all is very typical of today’s fear-mongering attitude towards those who have differing opinions than you do. No one is ignoring anyone’s emotional needs here, nor advocating isolation, nor advising “keeping yourself emotionally unavailable.” Do I support homeschooling and make that clear in this article? Absolutely. But there is also obvious compassion and a reasonableness that you are completely ignoring. If you don’t agree with me, that is totally fine—but in my opinion your response here is a knee-jerk reaction and not validated by what the article actually says.
None of what Annie suggest is abusing our kids.
And yes, teens should be coming and talking to us in a calm way. If they can’t learn that, they won’t go very far in life.
Parents have final authority and say, not the child.
I think this is a very balanced & thoughtful list of suggestions to run through when emotions may be high and decisions are difficult to make. Personally, my high schoolers see how many hours they’d be spending in school plus all the hours of homework & tedious projects & reports that they’d be forced to do. That keeps them very happy to be receiving a personalized & flexible education at home.
“a personalized and flexible education at home” – YES, this is what it’s all about!
Good points, well-rounded.
One of my teens wanted to go back to school. We talked about her reasons, and she was feeling that her peer group was unhealthy (we live in a community where the home schooling group is more monolithic and conformist than it used to be) and she was afraid her academic level was too low and her ability to manage independently (meet deadlines without supervision, etc.) was subpar. She knew school would be hard, but she wanted to know she could “make it” in that harsh environment. I suspect many home schooling teens feel insecure about their abilities in these areas.
So we looked at our options. We found the school we would be able to bring her to, and we brought her in to talk with guidance. She had a shadow day at the end of the school year so she could decide about the upcoming year.
In one day she observed so much immaturity, emotional dysfunction, cruelty and immorality, and ignorance. It was really discouraging, but it also made her look at her own life and abilities more closely. She was able to see that she really did manage independently more than her public school peers — she educated herself without the bells and consequence flowcharts. She saw that while the home school students she knew were having a hard time, the public school students were in chaos — the teen years are hard everywhere. Maybe most strikingly, she saw how very low the academic expectations were in the classes she visited — she was pretty shocked.
So we tried to pivot by working hard to take hits in some areas in order to do the extra work of finding a healthy peer group (always and ongoing challenge), and I adjusted the curriculum to be more academically challenging despite the fact that this could cause tension — she wanted harder work, even if she naturally wanted to also drag her feet about doing it.
Thing is, this was a ridiculously hard time. It would have been much easier to simply enroll her. But if we had done that, we actually would have been denying her agency, as she wasn’t really wanting to go back to school for its own sake, she had a set of goals she wanted to meet and she just thought school was the best place to meet them. The point is to help her reach her self-directed aims, not just to swap school environments.
I think the replies above to the critics are pretty spot on, from my experience. Home schooled young adults are inclined to blame every relationship problem on home schooling, but I see the same dysfunction and complaints in publicly schooled kids, they just don’t have this striking difference in lifestyle that they can blame all the problems on. It’s similar to kids growing up in atheist houses that blame atheism for a bad childhood, or in religious households that blame the religion; in politically left or right households that blame the politics; in poor households that blame the poverty or rich households that blame the wealth.
Thanks for the article!
Marie- thank you so much for the time you put into this comment. It really inspired me as a highschool homeschooler myself. I will definitely not try to blame any of my future problems on the way I was raised. :)
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Marie. “But if we had done that, we actually would have been denying her agency” – that right there says it all. Giving into what the teen wants without considering all the ramifications isn’t always the best way to help them meet their goals.
Thanks for the article and the responses to the critiques. I needed this so very much! Thank you for your ministry! Truly a blessing!
You are welcome! I’m so glad you feel encouraged! :-)
Thank you for the article Ann. I do agree that our teens are not the final decision makers when it comes to going to public school. This is something parents need to decide. I loved home educating my 3 sons who are now 19, 21 and 23 years. They never wanted to go to public school although at times they were curious and wondered what it would be like. The grass is not greener on the other side :) They look back now and wonder why they were even curious. It is very concerning what is happening in public school and this is the reason why my kids would NOT HAVE made this decision. I am friends with a school principle and she said if she could do it all over again – she would have home schooled her kids. Wow – this is someone who has lived and breathed teaching all her life and who really knows the system. Parents know best. They see what`s going on. I would explore their reason WHY they want to go? And secondly, I would spend all the time I could connecting with them, listening to them, empathizing with them and hearing their heart and then I would brain storm some ideas together of how you can make home schooling work better. Give them more autonomy in planning their “curriculum” (and allow them to make some bad choices and suffer the consequences). You will come out stronger on the other side when parent and teen co-create together. Relationship is always key! Blessings
GREAT thoughts, Mandi! Thanks for sharing! :-)
Agree with so much of what you had to say! Thank you for being bold and sharing your experiences, wisdom, and advice.
Thanks so much for commenting, Sarah!
This is basically what my parents did. I’m now in my 30s and they can’t figure out why they haven’t been involved in my life for the last 10 years. My mom asked if she can live with me when she’s old and I told her under no circumstances will she or my father ever be allowed to live with me because they stole enough years of life and I refuse to give them any more. Go ahead, resist your teen’s attempt to go to a real school, but realize that the number of years you have to control them is very small and you have no control over what they’ll decide to believe or how they’ll react to these days once they’re an adult and no longer under your authoritative thumb.
To anyone reading this: every single homeschooling parent thinks they’re the wise exception who is doing it right and that every bad outcome is just an example of _other_ people getting it wrong. That’s not often the case. I know many homeschooling parents who live on in blissful ignorance, bragging about the success of their homeschooling days, while they have no idea how their adult children actually feel about it.
Some of my homeschooled peers decided to let the past be the past and not go through the pointless drama of confronting their parents, knowing full and well that their parents will never believe them and will never apologize. But their parents have no idea how much resentment their adult child privately holds toward them. Their parents have no idea why they’ve never had a close, intimate relationship with their adult kids.
I have other homeschooled peers who ditched their parents as soon as possible and haven’t seen or spoken to them in years. One of them has never even been allowed to see their grandkids in person. But hey, by all appearances they were doing the right stuff, they were major leaders in a big homeschooling group, they constantly took their kid to sports and field trips and had other kids over and blah blah.
Do you want to see a funny statistic? Check out how many people who were homeschooled decide to send their own kids to public school. So many homeschooling parents think it’s only the ones who weren’t taught anything or who were never taken out of the house who had a bad outcome, but that’s not the case. Lots of us were educated well enough to go to college, to end up in good, stable careers, to travel and be successful.
And yet every single homeschooled ‘success’ I’ve ever know privately struggled in ways the majority of their public school peers never did. A surprising number of them were extremely suicidal at various points to the degree of attempting to go through with it (and most of their parents are clueless about this, too). Many took a long time to forgive their parents and get over the fact that they were never even given the opportunity to have many of the experiences common in youth. Homeschooling parents like to prattle on about how, “Not all public school kids turn out great, not all public school kids do these things!”
Yes, but at least they had the opportunity. That’s what homeschooling parents don’t get. The homeschooling parents make themselves the single barrier preventing their kid from even having the opportunity for many things, arrogantly believing that the things they can offer are better and the things they can’t offer never mattered anyway. The child is deprived of a shared cultural experience that will doom them to feel like an outsider for the rest of their life.
The peer ‘culture’ that homeschooled kids have with each other disappears when they become adults and enter the real world, one where 99.9% of the people around them weren’t homeschooled. They will not be able to talk about 99% of the nostalgic things their friends are all talking about and bonding over. They will never have the bonding experience with anyone, ever. All these experiences all of their friends had that they were never even given the opportunity to experience? They’ll see them, and their first thought will circle back to you, the parents who deprived them of these things.
Though it diminishes when they get older, some small part of them will always feel like an outsider. The oldest among my homeschooled peers are now nearing their 40s and they still have rare moments of breakdowns and sadness when they think about having been homeschooled. They feel like they were forced to grow up backward (notice how many homeschooling parents brag about how mature their kids are? That’s not a good thing).
Now that they’re free to experience some of the things they needed to experience in adolescences, they’re too old and it’s no longer appropriate, so they’re stuck in a type of developmental limbo, never allowed to move forward or back in certain ways, but instead lost in the margins of a culture that was never theirs. And they’re not the ‘failures,’ they’re the ones who grew up and became, from all outside perspectives, normal and successful people.
– Signed, a homeschool ‘success’ who will never forgive my parents for homeschooling me.
Woo howdy, and you’re blaming all of this bitterness and frustration on being homeschooled as a teen? Your parents stole too many years of YOUR life? WOW. Are you a parent yourself? Because it sounds like you have no clue how much of a sacrifice of the PARENT’S life it is to raise kids, not to mention kids that are ungrateful for the decisions the parents made that they thought were best. No one is talking about controlling our kids’ adult lives or thoughts or convictions; no one is claiming to be perfect or wiser or better. But there is such a thing as living by one’s convictions regardless of the pressure from people such as yourself who want me to send my kids to public school based on fear that they won’t like me or concern that they won’t be able to relate to their peers. My own adult kids have come back and thanked me for how they were raised. Sorry that was not your experience, but to generalize that all homeschooled kids will have your problems is actually as narrow-minded as you’re accusing me to be. Do you really believe that only homeschooled kids have these issues, and that public schooled kids don’t have them at all? We are ALL messed up in one way or another, whether public schooled or homeschooled or private schooled or educated in another country or taught by a tutor or whatever other way there is. To blame our emotional difficulties on just one aspect of our lives, that was decided by loving parents who lived by their convictions, is just plain blind to the larger picture. And my guess is that your larger picture is greatly affected by the fact that you refuse to “forgive” your own parents for choosing a path that they thought was best but that you didn’t agree with, and so you’re having a temper tantrum for the rest of your life. I do suggest you let it go and let them back into your life. It’s a bit immature imho to think of them as having sinned against you in some way for deciding to homeschool you. There shouldn’t be anything to “forgive.” One wonders if your kid comes to you asking to be homeschooled, will you be equally adamant against their wishes? Also, I am rather curious about continuing to get this type of response to an article that is addressed to homeschool parents, not the world at large. If you don’t want to homeschool, then don’t. But don’t classify those of us who are homeschooling as evil people who are stunting our kids’ growth and development. Don’t assume that all homeschooling is bad just because you didn’t like it and couldn’t grow past that. And definitely don’t keep coming here to denigrate and villify. You are only revealing your own lack of the broad-mindedness that you claim to have.
I find your article and your comments here very closed-minded. You are clearly very unteachable and think you know all there is to know about parenting and homeschooling, and then you like to go on and brag about this “wonderful” relationship you have with your adult children. You are not even willing to listen to another person’s point of view, only your own.
I think I make it clear that I don’t know everything in the post and in these comments. But I will defend my position when accused and explain any background that may help people to understand better. As far as not listening to another’s point of view, that is obviously incorrect as I have taken the time to read and answer so many comments. It is very possible to listen but still disagree. I think people often equate “listening” with “agreeing,” but they are not the same thing.
Wow. I’m in my late 40s and did not resent my parents for homeschooling me at all. That’s never been a source of bitterness that has poisoned my adult life. I will say that I resented my mom’s bossy and squelching personality, but that would have been there no matter what kind of school I went to (I also went to public and private schools when I was younger). As a young adult I learned about her own life circumstances that made her want to be in control, and I also learned that her personality was no reflection on me as a person, both of which allowed me to let my bitterness go. I hope you’re able to move past this. It’s a shame it’s affected you so much.
I had the exact same outcome, bitterness towards my parents, blaming them for their poor choices, couldn’t wait to move out and get away from their overbearing nature trying to control my every move. Except I resented them for not homeschooling me in high school. My experience in school was so bad I threatened self-harm if they didn’t pull me out and I ended up in therapy. Turns out you can have the same outcomes no matter how you’re educated… so maybe that’s not the issue here. Dig deeper and heal the relationships.
I’m glad my parents sent me to high school and I wish I wouldn’t have been homeschooled at all. Please listen to your children, allow them to have opinions and input on their own lives. This article is encouraging child abuse.
Oh, Jake, now you’re just being ridiculous. The article DOES say to listen to your kids and allow them to have opinions and input. There is no child abuse going on here. You can’t have read it very closely if that’s all you have to say about it. I’m super curious to know where this article was shared that people would even start this campaign of vitriol. Y’all need to just live your own lives and let us live ours, okay? We’re not over there telling you what to do and how what you’re doing is wrong and abusive; we’re letting you do your thing. Why don’t you do the same and let families make this decision for themselves, thank you very much. For people who claim to be tolerant of all lifestyles, you sure don’t want to tolerate that of homeschoolers.
I rest my case–you only want to hear your own opion and then defend yourself over and over again instead of listening and learning! Guess what, one of the best ways to learn and grow as a person is to listen to other’s points of view. It certainly would do you some good, and that’s not being “ridiculous” at all!!
“Listening and learning” — again I wonder what your definition of those words are. You seem to be implying that because I hold fast to my own opinions and beliefs, that I am close-minded. That doesn’t leave room for conviction on my part nor tolerance of opposing viewpoints on your part. I allow you to have your viewpoint; that doesn’t mean I have to change mine. It does mean that I won’t accuse you of not listening or not being willing to learn. It means I will respect your right to disagree without casting aspersions. Wish I could say the same for everyone who wants to make me out to be a pariah in these comments, such as yourself.
I find it a pretty big eye opener here that all the homeschool moms in the comments are praising this article while all the ex-homeschooled kids are critiquing it. Let me hop on as a recovering homeschooler here.
The opinion thing really strikes me in this article, as I think that most homeschoolers can agree that the “only one correct opinion” thing is one of the biggest issues WITH homeschooling.
I personally was homeschooled my whole life and my parents never cared what my opinion was, their word was the final say in everything. “But we let you SAY what opinion you had!!” they’d cry when I’d attempt to discuss this behavior with them, “why does it matter that it ultimately meant nothing, changed nothing, DID nothing?” What they didn’t understand, and still don’t, is that it meant everything.
It has taken me many years to get here and accept it boldface, but it WAS emotional neglect. It was abuse. It was WRONG. I’m not pulling this out of nowhere, I’ve had many years of therapy now to recover, and that is what my therapists thought too.
Let me be clear here, I’m not accusing you, Annie, of being abusive, nor do I think most of the people here are. They are simply speaking from experience. And you’re right, your children are probably very happy and well-adjusted. The unfortunate truth, however, is that the sort of parenting techniques described here in this article are used by many abusive parents and are sadly, very common in the homeschool parent community.
Not trying to throw shade here or anything, just thought homeschooler moms who are reading these comments might want some deeper insight into some of these responses from an ex-homeschooler who gets the angle they’re coming from.
Hi Annette, The common theme through all of the comments that are critical of this article, though it isn’t stated outright, is that what the teen wants should be done. Not just that it should be considered, but that it should trump the parent’s decision-making. I take issue with that. No one here is advocating IGNORING the teen’s wishes or treating them as unimportant, but that doesn’t mean the teen gets to say what is going to happen, either. Parents DO still have the right to make the final decision, and that is not abuse or neglect. That is being a parent. Teens are NOT adults. “The type of parenting techniques described here in this article” — again, did you truly READ it? Did you miss the parts where it talks about dialoging with your teen, listening to them, meeting them halfway, and the importance of the relationship? Where in any of that is emotional neglect or abuse? ALL you have to go on is that the teen is not getting their way in this decision. There is NO abuse or neglect being described here, just the now-considered old-fashioned idea of parents as parents, not friends or roommates who are merely along for the ride as they watch their teens call all the shots. Well, I don’t see it as old-fashioned, I see it as showing love to my teen by protecting them from decisions that may harm them. Frankly, I find the idea of setting them completely free to do things their own way at this age to be neglectful. And I bet many of them who are parented that way wish they had parents who cared enough to set some boundaries.
Yes, this exactly Annette!
I find it very curious and telling that homeschooling parents only ever want to hear from each other- they’re closed to outside opinions, especially those of ex-homeschoolers. You would think parents would WANT to hear from the people who experienced the thing they’re putting their kid through, but nope! A lot of homeschooled parents just want to ignore the people who were ACTUALLY homeschooled in favor of an unhelpful circle jerk of praise for themselves. It’s very selfish.
I’m an adult now who was homeschooled, and I can’t believe how homeschooling parents STILL discount my story and experience. As a child I “didn’t know what I wanted”, as a teenager I was “being dramatic”, and now I’m “blaming my problems on my upbringing”! No. I got over my issues that homeschooling caused, and it was a long road. I’m calling it as it is and it’s time for homeschooling parents to open their ears and LISTEN TO THESE COMMENTS.
This comment section is a prime example of how absolutely blind and unwilling homeschooling parents can be to the issues of homeschooling. All the parents praising it and defending it, while the homeschoolers point out the issues to a deaf audience. The narcissism is astounding- who would know better than a person who was actually homeschooled? Literally no one, but these parents don’t want to hear it.
Annie and the other moms in this comment section- you were not homeschooled. You do not understand what it was like. If you want to speak on a topic, you damn well better be willing to listen to the people who actually EXPERIENCED IT before opening your mouth.
a fed up, disgusted ex-homeschooler
Hi Evelyn, Not sure where you’re getting that we don’t listen to ex-homeschoolers, or that we ignore them, since I have taken the time to comment back to every one of them. But I can’t agree with their arguments, and I tell them so. AGAIN, disagreeing is not the same as not listening. No one is discounting anyone’s experience, but that doesn’t make homeschooling itself bad. EVERY FAMILY MUST DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES. That’s the thing the nay-sayers are not allowing: they are not allowing us to make our own decisions. They want us to do it THEIR way. The fact is — I’m going to use your own argument — WE have been public-schooled, so who better to know the difficulties there?? Does our own experience as students not have value in our decision? Also: Have you ever been a homeschool parent? Maybe until you’ve EXPERIENCED IT, you should allow others to decide for themselves. That’s the narcissism here: While we are allowing others to make whatever choice they think is best for their family, others want us to make the choice that THEY believe, not allowing us to follow our own convictions. You preach tolerance but don’t actually act with tolerance. Maybe that’s a good place to start.
Consider asking them to write a request for proposal. RFPs are an extremely detailed proposal (25-50
Pages) addressing the elements of the request, such as social, academic, flexibility, financial- the pros and cons of the argument. They require footnotes and references, a great deal of research and a well argues sales presentation. It is one enormous English, sociology and speech project that may take months of preparation. If they can produce a well reasoned and well prepared RFP, be willing to have an outside expert review the proposal, perhaps a principal at the school, a business school researcher from a college or a similar academic peer. Most teens will either produce an excellent request that can be considered ( if they really want what they are asking for)!or will give up at the amount of work involved.
Either way they will learn a good deal about a well presented argument. It is an excellent item for a college portfolio as well.
Oooo, now that is a wonderful idea!
I went to public school. As a middle aged mom of teens now I can look back and see how I was pretty much allowed to make a lot of my own decisions. Both my parents worked, so a lot was done on my own, but I did have boundaries. And yet…..as a teen I thought nobody listened to me, my opinions weren’t considered, I didn’t get to make my own decisions.
It’s being a teenager, not how you’re educated. A time comes where it all makes sense and you can understand, particularly when you become a parent yourself. I think we have to balance remembering that teen angst and desire for independence with the responsibility of being the decision maker in charge of raising a healthy, productive adult.
YES, THIS! Well said!
As someone who is now 24 and was homeschooled from 6th grade to 12th grade, I think the saddest part of this article was the statement “don’t let your teen decide.” It is one thing to do what’s best for your teen, and it is another to be controlling. Though I try to get along with my mother, I have resentment that I will carry the rest of my life because of her choice to force me into homeschooling against my will. I remember the few times I was allowed out of the house to socialize. Once, I went to the local high school football game. I remember crying in the bathroom after seeing the majorettes with their uniforms, and seeing parents proudly wear buttons with their teen on it, holding an instrument or doing a sport. The parents were proud to see their kids participate in normal school events. I remember being told I could not do baton anymore because I was to be homeschooled. I was stripped of the only thing I was passionate about. And what was always my mother’s excuse? “Because I am the parent and you are the child.” Being a parent doesn’t qualify you to make all of the right decisions. I wish every day that I could’ve had a normal high school experience as other kids did. My mother thought that homeschooling would benefit me both academically and morally. It did neither. I chose a major that was unrelated to anything I had learned in school, and I made sure to do all of the things she disapproved of once I got away from my parents. I will never truly have a solid relationship with my mother because of the decision she made to homeschool me against my will. For 7 years, my only socialization was through church. I had no life. My end goal was to choose the hardest college major possible so that I could finally escape the financial control my parents constantly reminded me of as an excuse to treat me the way they wanted. Other girls in my community who experienced the same thing as I feel resentment and unhealed wounds from this part of their life as well. I never got a sincere apology from my mother for the 7 years of pain I endured. She still thinks she made the right decision to this day, even though it did not accomplish any of the things she thought it was accomplishing. When I say this, I know I am speaking for most teens who are homeschooled against their will. Give them the choice. The will always resent you if you don’t, and it won’t solve what you think it will. The restrictions I had on my life were very heavy, and today I pride myself in not being the robot my parents wanted me to be. I am my own person; I live life how I please. However, I will always wish I could get those 7 years of my life back and live like a normal teen. Even today, my mother still tries to dictate what I do and thinks she knows best because she is the parent. This will only push me further away and cause her to lose an adult relationship with her daughter. I am moving out in 3 months, finally, and it is the greatest joy I have ever felt. I finally feel that I am free from my parent’s control, and it shouldn’t be that way. I beg you, don’t make the same mistake my mother did… and if you are still unconvinced, please do everything you can in your power to allow them to have the friendships and relationships they desire, as well as extracurricular activities. I will always remember homeschooling as a dark time in my life, one that still makes me tear up to this day. If your kids are on their knees begging and crying to go to public school like I was, please don’t dismiss it as just a teen who doesn’t know what’s best for them. I knew it was best for me, and now as a 24 year old, I still hold to that belief.
Hi Molly, I’m sorry you have such bitterness about your homeschooling. It does sound like there are larger issues going on here, such as perhaps an overly controlling parent who would have been that way no matter what the mode of education was. That is not at all what I am advocating here. I do feel like in the article I make a good case for open dialogue with the teen and for meeting their needs in any way you can — but I won’t back down from the idea of parents making the final decision in this situation, even if that means overruling the teen’s desires. But it is very important for parents to communicate and act in love, with understanding, and with efforts to meet the teen halfway whenever possible. When you become a parent, you will see that all we can do is try our best, and we make the best decisions we can given the needs of the moment, and sometimes the child doesn’t understand all that goes into those decisions. But of course we will make mistakes, and sometimes they are big ones. Such is the nature of being a human being. I hope you can perhaps let the past be in the past now, and move forward with your mom without continuing to hold your opinion of her decisions against her. Your life has not been ruined — you are an amazing person, I’m sure. HUGS!
Molly. You’re still living at home as a 24 year old? You’re moving out in 3 months? That should have happened when you turned 18, kid. If you wanted that much independence, legally the door was open for you to step out of it. Of course your mom can dictate your life…you’re still a dependent. Doesn’t that make sense?
As for the rest of your concerns, some are valid…Kids need a choice but it’s the parents role to parent. It’s the children’s role to be a child. That’s the world we live in. If my child wants the choice to go to public school so she can run amuck and lie and do drugs then no…not a choice that I am giving in to. But if they show, in the same circumstance, that they can withstand the pressure’s of their environment and do well, then absolutely. I have been public schooling, private, and homeschooling for over 20 years and there isn’t a one size fits all. But ultimately it’s YOUR PARENTS decision. And here’s a great thought…you might be able to say, “Thanks, Mom and Dad, for feeding me, clothing me, and giving me the opportunity to read and write. I may not have been able to do ALL the things I desired but now I’m an adult and I can make that decision for my own kids.” And then your own kids can relive your past or you can make a new one with them…hoping they honor your role being a parent and you honor theirs being a child…because eventually we all move to the next role.
I send Blessings to you that you can move forward in life…and thank you for reminding me that we all have garbage but how much of it we focus on is up to us alone. Take care Molly. ~Molly
It kind of sucks that you willingly choose to abuse your kids like this. They hate homeschooling because you are depriving them of having a real teenage/childhood. Or just keep doing what you are doing and hope they never realize what you did to them.
Wow, just wow. I guess you want me to tolerate your choices (whatever they may be) but you believe you have the right to condemn mine. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, but I certainly don’t expect the level of disrespect that you’ve just shown.
What is your definition of 1. Childhood and 2. Abuse?
1. Childhood (noun): childhood; plural noun: childhoods
the state of being a child.
“the idealized world of childhood”
2. childhood, period of the human lifespan between infancy and adolescence, extending from ages 1–2 to 12–13.
3. the period during which a person is a child.
“she spent her childhood in Pennsylvania”
use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse.
“the judge abused his power by imposing the fines”
treat (a person or an animal) with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.
“riders who abuse their horses should be prosecuted”
the improper use of something.
cruel and violent treatment of a person or animal.
“a black eye and other signs of physical abuse”
Choosing to homeschool your high schooler against their wishes is controlling and abusive behavior. Their social-emotional growth will be stunted, and they will grow into vulnerable adults. You might think you “know best”. I get it, you want to protect your kids. But you are also depriving them of so many opportunities. The learning that occurs in a classroom is essential. Learning how to collaborate and resolve conflicts with peers. Being able to have face-to-face interactions with their teachers, who hold advanced degrees in the subject material and will be able to provide a perspective that you will never be able to match. GOD FORBID your child learns about topics that contradict your narrow worldview – or develops a passion that doesn’t fit the tight mold that you are trying to fit your child into. Get a life!
Parents who won’t budge: You are making this decision out of ignorance and fear. You are abusive. You are controlling. It’s pathetic. It’s shameful. Get a hobby. Listen to your children.
Wow. I am a homeschool Mom to a 23, 19 and 10 year old. Apparently, according to these comments, I must not be your typical homeschool mom “stealing years of my child’s life” by never “allowing them outside the house.” My teens are like any other teens, except they do more work at home than at a school building. When they are done with their work they have part time jobs, play competitive sports, attend the homeschool Friday night football teams, play with the homeschool band in the stands, dances,bonfires with friends, prom and soon we will have commencement activities. Am I the perfect mom ? Probably not. Have my kids ever gotten fed up and mentioned they wanted to go to school ? Sure. Briefly. But considering they show no signs of bitterness or regret in how we life our lives, I think many of us moms (my child and her small group of friends) are doing okay here.
Wow…so much hatred by so many homeschooled people! I may not agree with everything in an article, but the hate is terrible .
I was Not homeschooled. I have friends who were and they regret it. But they don’t hate their parents. Yes, some parents homeschool for wrong reasons. Some were abusing their kids. But many of us homeschool now for different reasons. I have special needs children and they learn better one on one. I have had one child who did go to private school part time, so that helped socialize her. My son does several outside activities so he is not lonely. We did try public school because of the therapy but it was too stressful for my kids.
Since Covid, many more people are homeschooling, so it isn’t just Christians anymore. But I have to say with all the school shootings and teachers sexualizing children, homeschooling is not as “backwards “ as people used to think. My kids , as homeschoolers, do go to therapy, but it is because of the anxiety associated with bullying and the stuff they hear on the news. Not from being homeschooled.
I think the article did a great job explaining why it is best for parents to decide what is best for their kids. Look at how so many kids are choosing to do things that can’t be undone in our culture right now. Teens are just ‘Stupid on steroids’ many times.