Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!
Ah! The old children's rhyme often chanted on playgrounds and school yards.
Remember hearing it? Or maybe saying it yourself?
Did you ever think you would need to refer to a similar approach in your adult life? About homeschooling or other situations?
I live in a small community with only about three homeschool families in our small school district in a state with some of the most rigid homeschool laws. Friends and strangers just don't get why we homeschool. And quite frequently like to let us know their thoughts and feelings on the matter.
Initially, I would become offended. And feel violated. Who made it their business to try to butt into our personal lives? Oh, they did. And I let them.
Instead of instantaneously shutting them down, I would immediately go on the defensive and spout off numerous reasons why we pulled our older boys out of public school. Or I would become timid and embarrassed, hiding our homeschooling choices like they were shameful.
It has taken me a few years to reach the point where I feel like I can masterfully handle haters. It hasn't been an easy path and I've had many moments of self-doubt and despair. But, I found a way to do it. And you can, too.
Let's look at what I mean when referring to "haters" and how you can masterfully handle haters in your homeschool and personal life.
Who are "Haters"?
Hate is a strong word. One definition of the word "hate" from Dictionary.com is "intense dislike; extreme aversion or hostility". My use of the word, "haters", is not intended to be so extreme.
Haters are typically negative people. Their negativity may be specific to a particular issue, like homeschooling. Or their negative influence may be more general. Haters may be:
- rigid in thought
- baiting (throw out what seems like an innocent comment or question, only to bait you into their negativity)
- questioning (as in, they feel the need to quiz you and your kids on minute details of your homeschooling experiences)
Homeschool haters are those individuals who deem themselves fit to spread their rigid opinion and judgment on the homeschooling process. They can be anyone-a family member, friend, loved one, or stranger. Homeschool haters may fall along a continuum, from extreme dislike and distrust of the homeschool process to mildly disturbed and doubtful on how it all works.
**Sidenote: Not all people who ask questions or make comments are haters. I am referring to those select individuals who are relentless in their pursuit of converting you to their line of thought and wanting you to accept public school mentality.
Instead of letting homeschool haters suck the joy out of your homeschool, you can do a few simple things to masterfully handle haters of homeschooling (or other areas of your life).
3 Simple Things You Can Do to Masterfully Handle Haters
You could feel sorry for them. Or be angry at haters. Maybe just turn into a gelatinous blob and let them walk all over you?
Unfortunately, those three alternatives are not going to help you at all. And the biggest takeaway that I would LOVE for you to get from these suggestions is this: YOU CAN'T CHANGE THEM!
Ever hear the phrase, "Haters gonna hate."
Yup. That's just what they are going to do.
Regardless if you talk until your face turns blue. Or you give them 53 hugs a day. Or send them link after link to valid resources that provide proof that homeschooling is legit.
So, what can you do to masterfully handle haters?
1. Check Yourself
What's swirling around in your mind? Are you struggling with self-doubt and projecting that onto others?
Check your mindset. Are they really hating on you or merely curious? Do they want to spread negativity or just want to get to know you better? It's easy to feel paranoid when you are dealing with your own struggles.
2. Smile & Wave
Or, at the very least, simply ignore them! If you are a homeschooler, I'm assuming that you are busy. You don't have time for haters. Let them say their piece. Put your fingers in your ears and loudly sing, "LA! LA! LA!" (or pretend to if you'd rather not draw too much attention to yourself.)
Just because they are dishing out negativity, doesn't mean that you have to scoop it up and take it all in. Catch and release. Or shield and deflect. Be the bigger person. Act like an adult and don't' get sucked into their fodder.
3. Accept & Move On
Unless you have a mountain of time on your hands, accept the fact that you can't change them. Thank goodness you don't have to reside up in their head!
Focus on what you can change: YOU. Be mindful of your own thoughts and reactions. Replace irrational thoughts that include phrases like "should", "must", and "hate" with more rational words like "It would be nice if..." and "I would prefer...". You can only work on you, boo.
If you feel like you are lacking in homeschool knowledge, take time to gather information and read all that you can to familiarize yourself with homeschool laws, requirements, and more. Join supportive Facebook groups where you can ask questions and be encouraged.
Don't let haters bring you down. You have undertaken a big responsibility in homeschooling your kids. Save your energy for what matters-your family.
What types of homeschool haters have you had to deal with and how did you?