***More on dealing with family and their reactions to your homeschooling decisions. I'm assuming that your family is not insane. If they are, God bless you. Nothing can help that but time and prayers.***
For many years, my mother-in-law was adamantly opposed to our decision to homeschool our children. Nothing we could say or do in those early years seemed to make a difference to her. She tried to reign herself in, but it was obvious that she had taken this choice of ours very personally--and not in a good way. In those early years, I thought that I was the only one to ever encounter such fierce opposition from a grandma. (I lived in a dream world in my head where mothers were always supportive -- except for ours.)
Twelve years later, I've learned that this is a very common response to get from at least one set of parents, and more often from the mom than the dad. In all the time I've spent watching one friend after another deal with this, I've come to realize that the most common cause of this response is hurt feelings. (Unless your parents are mentally unstable. If your folks are crazy, then all bets are off.)
Whether or not we intend them to be, a mother will too often hear the decision to homeschool as a criticism of her own parenting choices. She may just assume that you think she did a bad job with your education, which is why you've opted to take that left turn at Albuquerque. I don't know why mothers measure their own success by whether or not their kids emulate them when raising their own brood, but they do. If your mom is this kind of mom, this decision is going to sting a bit -- or a lot.
The best way to help her over this hurdle is with frank honesty. Do you think that you had a good education? If not, this is the time to tell her why (without pointing a finger of blame in her direction if at all possible!) Explain to her in real terms why you feel that this kind of education is in the best interests of your own children, and stress that they are your children if you need to do so. If your own school experience were great, tell her that too. Thank her for all of the hard work she poured into raising you and getting you to graduation. Then point out how it is because of the way that she raised you that you are capable of taking on this huge task and responsibility. She didn't raise you to take the easy way, but taught you to do what was right. It also doesn't hurt to point out that if she were raising children in this modern age, she might just be making the same decision you are making.
Grandparents and extended family are a wonderful part of a child's upbringing. They are a support team which I sincerely wish every child had. You, the parent, are the coach of this support team. It's your job to help hold them together and to smooth the ruffled feathers. I know it's not fair that it works that way, but that's the way life works sometimes. Getting all of this out on the table in the beginning will save you years of angst down the road. You owe it to yourself to not have to keep fighting this battle, so bury this hatchet now.
Having said all that, there is a point when you do get to cry "Enough!" and be done with it. If no amount of talking or patient understanding will even begin to get through, you absolutely have the right to stop discussing it. You're a grown up and the parent of your own children. As such, you get to decide when you are done and to stick with that decision. It can be awkward and sometimes even painful to slam the door shut and
refuse to engage any longer, but sometimes you have to do it for your
One of the hard and fast rules with our families has always been that no matter how much they question our choices, they don't get to do so in front of the children. Ever. I also do not allow anyone to play "Pop Quiz" with my kids to test their knowledge or to attempt to assess how good of a job I've been doing. Period. At the end of the day, my husband and I are the parents and the decisions about how to educate them are ours alone.
Please know that many loved ones come around once they have a chance to see it all in action. Homeschooling is just something they can't imagine until they see it. With honesty, understanding, and a bit of love it can happen. It took our parents 7 years to get there. I hope and pray it happens a lot faster for you.