Why do people hate homeschoolers?

Today, you can read many blogs and articles that discuss the issue of homeschooling in today’s world. And that’s natural; homeschooling is becoming the norm in many Christian circles (speaking from my own experience). The idea is hitting home with thousands of people across the nation as they consider their alternatives. Homeschoolers are out there. They need help. They need encouragement. But once in a while, they need a good kick in the pants.

People hate us.

I met a lot of strangers over the summer. One day, I conversed with a very personable woman at my son’s swimming lessons. We had been chatting for several minutes, when she asked my son what grade he would be going into. He responded with, “I’m in second already.” It was the middle of July. She looked at me kind of funny, so I said, “We homeschool, and he’s doing a few subjects over the summer.” She didn’t say anything at all. In fact, she immediately turned her entire body from me and started talking to the person sitting on the other side of her. She didn’t speak to me or look at me again for the rest of the week.

Why?

Why do some people treat homeschoolers that way? If we had been born into some other era, homeschooling would be normal. But in today’s world, it’s looked upon with disgust and mistrust. As I was writing yesterday’s post about the ability to conduct good conversations, I mentioned conversing about the topic of homeschooling. I began to honestly ask myself, “What causes people to respond to us with hatred?” I could give the obvious answers: we are the minority, people are afraid of things that are “different” or things they don’t understand, we live in an age that believes that the public education system is one of the crowning achievements of our society, some people are uncomfortable with the thought of families separating themselves for God, etc. All of those things are true, and there’s nothing we can do about them. We aren’t wrong to homeschool, so we do it anyway, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter what other people think. But people have another reason to hate us, you know. One that does matter. One that is our fault.

If you take the time to research, you can find a lifetime supply of “homeschooling-how-to” articles or “why-you-should-homeschool” articles. More and more, however, your search will also turn up very defensive material. You will find things like:

“The parents of public-schooled children are just jealous because homeschooled children perform better on tests.”

“Some families aren’t thrifty enough to live on a one-income budget, so they sacrifice their children instead of their stuff.”

“Many moms can’t stand to be around their children all day because they are just selfish.”

“Parents today have become too lazy to discipline and teach their own children because they know the school system will do it for them.”

And you know what? Those statements do apply to some people. But we’re missing a key point here. Here’s why they hate us:

Because we think we are better than them.

They stereotype us because we stereotype them. It seems that “we” are always flaunting our superiority over “them.” You know, we aren’t better people. Our sin is so disgusting in the sight of God as to make our righteousness indistingishable. We don’t deserve God’s love and grace anymore than anyone else on the face of the planet. God doesn’t love you more than he loves any other person.

It seems the more we try to obey God, the more “together” our lives are, the more we look down our noses at other people. Just one example (of many) from my own life: There have been a couple of long periods of time that I went without darkening the door of a church building. The strangest thing though: as soon as I started going back to church, I started looking around at all of the other people in my life and judging them for being out of church. Could my memory of my own sins be any shorter? Every time I make a positive change in my life, I struggle with this. I am not better than anyone else. I am not better than anyone else.

It helps me to remember my sins, how I’ve lived in the past, how I would live if I didn’t know Him, how I fail every day (even though I know better – even though I know how much it hurts God). Shouldn’t that make me worse than the rest, instead of better, since I am fully aware of how much my sin hurts Him? It’s a good thing God loves us all equally. In addition to lots of personal contemplation, I pray for humility all the time. It seems my prayers can’t keep up with my arrogance however, because I am always facing this issue.

Homeschoolers in general seem arrogant to me. Am I wrong? I’m sorry if I’m wrong. However, if there’s anyone out there who’s like me and needs help with this issue on a daily basis, here’s what I think we should do: Stop worrying about how other people live. Stop comparing yourself to them to make yourself feel better. Compare yourself to Christ, see how short you fall, repent every day, always do your best, and love everybody. A humble, righteous lifestyle speaks for itself, as does homeschooling. Maybe if we can change our arrogant attitudes, the fog of rage would dissipate from the eyes of onlookers, and they would be able to see us clearly.

You say you are training your children up to be witnesses? You be the witness. They will have a good example to follow. Love and respect people; it’s a great place to start.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 

Matthew 22:37-39

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20 responses to “Why do people hate homeschoolers?

  1. Enjoy reading and thinking about your challenging posts! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I was thinking, when I started reading, that the reason people “hate” homeschoolers is the same reason there are “mommy wars” and the vaccine/anti-vax debate is so heated. If we look to others for validation, anytime someone chooses something different than I do, it says that they disagree with the choices I made. So even if/when homeschoolers aren’t arrogant about it, others may feel that they come up short. Of course, if we actually think and act like we are better, that is only going to add fuel to the fire.

    Two misconceptions I see (one on each side of the issue) is that “not everyone can do it.” In reality, with the resources and options available nowadays, anyone who wants to can homeschool and even do a decent job of it, perhaps especially in regard to academics. And they don’t have to be a sahm to do it either.
    On the other side, I’ve gotten the impression from some homeschoolers that everyone ought to do it. Personally, I disagree. There are some folks for whom it truly and legitimately is not the best choice for them and their family. That doesn’t mean that public school is the only other option, though it can be the best one, in some instances.

    In other words, just because everyone can doesn’t mean everyone should. And just because you (and I) should doesn’t mean we are better than anyone else. It means we, just like others, consider what is best for our own children.
    And I do sincerely hope that if one or more of my children would benefit from a non-homeschool situation that I would be wise enough to choose that option.

    • Thanks for your comments, Tricia! You mentioned that: “If we look to others for validation, anytime someone chooses something different than I do, it says that they disagree with the choices I made.” I’ve never thought about it this way, but it is a valid point. I think that’s the reason friendships can end over things like politics. We all want others to agree with us so badly, we take it personally when they don’t (and vice versa).
      I hope I didn’t imply that all homeschoolers were arrogant. I merely wanted to suggest that it’s a common stereotype, and that I can understand where it comes from. I’m sure there are many humble homeschoolers out there, just living day by day and doing their best. I would like to hear more from them. And I’m glad there are articles written to encourage us and affirm us. (For some reason, human affirmation can seem so important.) Maybe I’m just looking for fault (if I am, it’s not intentional), but I get such an arrogant vibe from many of the homeschool posts and articles. Sometimes I’m afraid my posts may come out that way without my realizing it.
      I also agree that any concerned parent can do a good job teaching, but many may not realize that it’s mostly a time commitment. You don’t have to know everything in order to teach. In fact, if you take an education class alongside a bunch of people who are in the process of earning their teaching degree, you will realize just how normal they are. Normal people with a normal amount of knowledge.
      I truly enjoy homeschooling. God commands us to teach our children diligently, but I believe every parent should do this, no matter where their children attend school. Every parent needs to do what they think is best for their own children, regardless of whether their choices are “validated” by the rest of us.

  3. The fact remains, though, that it is they who hate us. Not vice-versa.
    We pity them, their ps children, etc. We think we have found a better way, or we would not have changed over–this is too obvious to deny: We do think we have found a better way, right? So they automatically assume we think We are better. Even Hebrews tells us that Noah rained conviction down upon those who watched him building a boat to shelter his little family where there was no water and when there had never been rain. Talk about minding your own business!
    Perhaps there are some hs snobs, but they prove they are not of us because they treat us the same way, don’t they?
    Most of us just plug along and are too busy to think about if we are better than anyone. Most of us just want to have a better life than yesterday! Most of us wait until someone says we are lucky we have such good kids, to give glory to God and thereby make everyone mad.
    I strongly believe the hatred comes from the battle over ps funding. It is about the money. Too bad we are not getting the money, since we get the blame for it.
    The hatred comes from superintendents who think we do get the money, and from senators who have listened to ps lobbiests all day, and choose to consider us guilty until proven innocent. Official position can and does drive public opinion, and to our detriment.
    People have hated me, my husband, and even my children, EVEN within our own families, and I have only always offered help and hope for their hopeless situations and helpless children, and this was long, long before homeschool was cool. The vitriol has always been there and will always be there.
    Jesus promised. But cheer up! He even outshines homeschool! 🙂

    • Yes, it is they who hate us. And I do believe we have found a better way. They would probably hate us regardless because of the other reasons I mentioned early in the post. The world hates Christianity for the same reasons, and we can’t stop being Christians just because they don’t like it. I’m not suggesting we stop homeschooling, or stop lauding its benefits.
      At the same time, I believe that arrogance abounds. Because we are so constantly attacked by outsiders, we feel the need to “prove” that our way is better. Our children pick up on this attitude and take it into life with them. (I know that at least one homeschooled child has had that experience; I am she. I humbly admit that I battle arrogance every day.)
      I know we don’t homeschool to feed our egos; we homeschool because we love our children and sacrifice to give them the best possible opportunities in life, not to mention education and a godly upbringing. But just because we love homeschooling for all of its benefits, I don’t see a reason to take an “us” vs. “them” approach.
      As I mentioned in a reply to a previous comment, I don’t believe that all homeschoolers have this problem. I am just trying to shine a little light out for those who do and may not realize it. I wish someone had done the same for me.

    • I forgot about the funding issue. My parents dealt with that a lot, even/especially at church. Even though we don’t get any funding, it does (apparently?) reduce the amount the local school gets. So for some, especially those strongly in support of ps, we are not only judging them, we are reducing the funds available to their school.

      Interestingly, I have not seen the same strength of response to those who send their children to private school. I am not sure why.

      • Perhaps because this generation of parents has grown up around private schools, and because they at least think of them as “mostly normal?” Just a thought. Also, private schools aren’t as easy to condemn because they have “real” teachers, and socialization isn’t an issue. As though it were “normal” for children to grow up in an institution. 🙂

    • Thank you, ladies, for your interesting discussion. I truly appreciate you taking time from your busy schedules to help us all see things from many perspectives! Now if we could only get a homeschool “hater” to post! 🙂

  4. I think I spend too much time at the capitol!
    However, in our state, the rumor that we homeschoolers reduce the funding for ps is just that: a rumor. We save them money!
    Every time we do not drag the budget down by another 5 or 10 grand, we do them a huge favor!!! The local school thinks we take it away from them but we do not take receivership of it. It goes into the big pot in the sky, which is sub-divided according to need or affluence of neighborhood, and our homeschooling only means there is more money in the pot. They should be GLAD!
    In other states, it is bad legislation that has caused the deficite, NOT US! 🙂 They redistribute education funds to health or welfare, etc., if it is not taken by schools. Sighs.
    However, we do get more scholarships, even though it IS true that we are disqualified from some of them . . . 😉
    I guess you can tell it’s been a long time since I had a chance to expound on this Ha!
    Love this blog! Amy is a fantastic writer and such a level-headed gal! Not like me! 🙂

  5. P.S. But then, I suffer from a public education! Lotsa competitiveness there! 🙂

  6. Personally, I think you hit the nail right on the head. The attitude I’ve come across of “if you really are a Christian, you HAVE to homeschool” drives me crazy! I think a lot of homeschoolers forget that ALL parents homeschool – and that we are not commanded anywhere in Scripture to teach our children the three R’s at home – we are commanded to teach them who God is, and what he means to their lives. We are commanded to teach them the ways of God – where they learn math is irrelevant, morally speaking.

    Thanks for this post, and thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog today!

  7. Thanks for your input, Tiffany! You have a really nice blog; I’ve been enjoying your thoughts. It’s true that our main priority in child-rearing is to raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Sometimes we homeschoolers get so caught up in competing with the public schools, we forget to teach what is really important. I’m pretty tired of all of the stereotyping. I’m sure there are lots of parents out there who send their children to public schools, who are extremely dutiful about training their children in the ways of the Lord. Even more so than some homeschoolers. Not all, of course, but that’s just it. We can’t think that there are different “types” of people, and that each type fits into a nice little mold. I really think that most people do what they think is best for their families. Our ideas of what is “best” will vary from person to person, of course. Maybe that’s another reason why people get so out of sorts with each other when we don’t agree. We’re telling them that they’re wrong about what they think is best. Not only that, but we’re telling them that they don’t care about their children as much as we care about ours. Most people don’t even consider homeschooling an option. Until you really sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper, it’s hard to understand just how doable one-income living can be. I think that’s the biggest reason that some of my friends and family members don’t homeschool. But I wouldn’t think for a moment that they loved their children any less than I love mine. Not to say that I, personally, don’t think that homeschooling is best. I do. At least for my family, and probably for many others who haven’t tried it. But I can have a difference of opinion with someone without thinking (and acting like) they are complete idiots.

  8. I know this is an old post, but it’s new to me. 🙂 I am a homeschool graduate, and intend to homeschool my own children when they are old enough. That being said, I’ve also been bothered by how harsh and judgemental parents are on those who make choices for their families that differ from their own choices. It is sad, because parenting is difficult & challenging, and we would all do better to encourage each other in dooing what is best for our individual children instead of tearing into each other over differences of opinion. I loved being homeschooled, and think it is ideal for many children. For some families and childre, though, more conventional methods of educating are better. Most loving parents are trying their best, whether we think they are right or not. We’d do better to remember that, on both sides.

    • This may be an old post, but it still gets plenty of traffic. In fact, it is my most popular post of all time. Nearly every week, one or two people hit my blog by searching “why do people hate homeschoolers” or “I hate homeschoolers.” That tells me two things: first of all, some people hate homeschoolers, and I’m not sure they even realize why. By typing it into a search, they are either looking for answers or for others who feel the same way, thus validating their own feelings. Second, those searching with the question “why” have absolutely no idea. I can only imagine that these folks are either homeschoolers themselves, intend to be, or know a family that is. So my post was just an effort to shed some light on what I believe is the major cause of hatred against homeschoolers. I agree with you – most people really are doing what they think is best for their family. Why would anyone choose to do anything else? Thanks for your input, and for visiting my blog! I hope to hear from you again in the future!

  9. People hate homeschoolers because more often than not homeschoolers come out completely socially maladjusted and just plain weird. Trust me, I was one, and it took me almost a DECADE to develop the social skills that have now begun to afford me a normal, successful life. Besides being socially awkward, homeschoolers are often unable to think critically (unless said critical thinking “aligns” with the one-sided way of thinking they were force fed by their parents!). Homeschoolers are rarely afforded the opportunity to study anything but what their parents allow them to study, and are almost always extremely prudish and judgmental of others’ religious or spiritual paths. Trust me. I don’t get along with any of my fellow homeschoolers, and sometimes, I wish I could go back and have gone to public or private school instead.

    That being said, I think homeschooling has AWESOME potential, as long as the parents are truly conscious people who think critically and are actually socially, spiritually and politically aware. Unfortunately, that’s just not the natural state of the modern parent.

    (Source: My growing up in a very close-knit (and close-minded) community of homeschoolers, and following up on where they all are years later.)

    • You keep saying “trust me,” because you were a homeschooler, but I was one too, and I had different experiences than you did. I was surrounded by homeschoolers too, because I participated in homeschool band and choir, and I met homeschoolers of all different religions and some who were atheists. For the most part, we all got along. And I am still friends with many of my homeschooled peers, and they seem well-adjusted to me. I think it’s inaccurate to expect all homeschoolers to be maladjusted just because a few are. We don’t hear people looking at one serial killer who was publicly-schooled saying, “Look what the public schools did to him.” To be perfectly honest, there are maladjusted children across the board, regardless of their schooling. There are personalities of all types across the board, but people are on the lookout for weird homeschoolers, so that’s what they tend to see. I’m sorry you felt that they hated you for being weird. Maybe they did, but that’s an extremely poor reason to hate somebody. As far as critical thinking goes, everybody has an agenda, whether they admit to one or not, and that includes the public school system. No matter where you study, you will be reading what somebody wants you to read. True critical thinking develops when we begin to read and think about everything in the light of the truth. It’s not just some phrase that means we should learn to think about things from every possible angle. I am a pretty open-minded person, in that I will consider something I’ve never thought about before, but I must judge for myself, based on my current understanding of the truth, whether to accept the new information. I am not open to believing lies. THAT is critical thinking.

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  11. Yeah, it’s mostly the superiority complex. I never used to care about them till I found they were saying a lot of absurd things. Like from hearing many homeschoolers talk about public school, you’d think they all were a combination of Grand Theft Auto and one of Blake’s dark, satanic mills. Or that every single homeschooler somehow is above average despite being educated for maybe two hours a day or less. There’s a lot of stuff coming out of that movement which really hasn’t been backed or proven.

    I also have issues with how predominant it seems to be in Christianity. I am a Christian myself, and an orthodox one. But I get worried about how much parental control is given to parents in homeschooling, and how easy it is to use it to sort of dominate the kids. I think it makes for fragile kids, and it really doesn’t make for a robust faith. I think there’s a lot of fear that’s the basis for choosing to homeschool, and I don’t think that fear is a good basis for doing that. Especially when it can easily morph into weirdness like Family Integrated Churches and what have you.

    • I really think that homeschooling would be much more widely accepted if we weren’t always trying to make ourselves look better than everyone else. Like you said, you never used to care about them until you found out what they were saying. Of course, being a homeschooler myself, I do have my own reasons for homeschooling, many of which I’ve made clear on this blog. Some of which you may not personally agree with, lol. I do think that most parents love their kids more than any teacher or institution ever will, and that for the most part, they will want what’s best for them and try to achieve that however they see fit. Homeschooling is just one option that parents have in choosing the course of their children’s lives, and I believe it is their right to make that decision for them. And I also believe that it is a parent’s right to make mistakes as well. Well-meaning parents, myself included, make mistakes every day concerning many things: how much tv/video-gaming to allow, what to feed our children, how strict or lenient to be, etc. There isn’t one clear-cut, well-defined way to raise children, and I thank God for that. I don’t want my son to have a cookie-cutter personality; he is unique. Homeschooling may not the best option for everyone, but if a parent chooses that for their child, it is usually because they want to provide them with the best education possible. I have rarely seen it as a mere excuse for not sending them to school.

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