Holidays are supposed to be a time where relatives gather together to celebrate. Inevitably there is always that one relative who doesn’t like the fact your family homeschools. Let’s talk about how to set boundaries with family regarding homeschooling, especially during the holidays. Bonus, these tips will work will your relatives any time of the year!
Do you look forward to the holidays where you get to see family? Are you excited to see your relatives?
Or, are you already bracing for what they might say? Do you have nosy or rude relatives who disagree with your choices? Do they try to corner your children and pester them with questions?
Don’t let them bully you or your children! Discover a five-step process to set boundaries with family, friends, or even church members regarding your homeschool choice. Reclaim your Memorial Day gatherings, summer reunions, and Thanksgiving dinners.
We are supposed to celebrate all that God has done in our lives, and we are supposed to honor one another. Holidays and family gatherings are times when we are supposed to repeat funny family stories, celebrate what makes us unique, and be loved unconditionally.
Isn’t that the Norman Rockwell version? Guess what. That is a painting, not a picture of real life.
In real life, holidays are rarely without stress. Kids don’t always behave. Extra sugar, the lack of downtime, and the holiday stress all make an impact on them as well.
If your family has to travel and sleep overnight, this too has an impact on everyone in the family. Different parenting skills and expectations will clash as well.
The 1st Overstep – The School Interview
For homeschooling families, there is often another layer of stress – the school interview. This is often the first hint that we will need to set boundaries with family regarding our family’s decision to homeschool.
As homeschoolers, we often encounter strangers who feel free to give us their unsolicited opinion on homeschooling. Sadly, we sometimes have that opinionated relative who isn’t shy about questioning our education methods as well.
It is bad enough when they try to coerce us into defending our choices, but often they don’t stop there. Our children will be cornered and be given a pop-quiz of the inquisitor’s choice as to what information they think a child of that age ought to know. Set boundaries with family so that this interrogation never happens again.
Ironically, the public-school cousins are never given this treatment to ensure that they are receiving a quality education or are properly socialized. Even if your children are the best-behaved kids at the gathering and are the only ones studying Latin, some people still feel they have the right to question you and your children.
Related Reading: Socialization vs Civilization: What is the Best Goal?
#1 Set your Boundaries with Relatives Regarding Homeschooling
What is a homeschool parent to do? Set your boundaries with family. Draw the line.
Here is the deal. Your children are yours. God gave them to you to raise, and you are accountable only to God for how they are raised.
If you and your spouse have prayed and sought out God’s guidance and decided that homeschooling is God’s will for your family – no one else’s opinion matters.
Not even your parents. Not even your in-laws. Certainly, not Aunt Bertha.
#2 In Setting Boundaries with Family, Do Not Tolerate Disrespect
Your job now as a parent is to guard the heart of your spouse and your children. We do this by not allowing others to disrespect us, our spouse, or our children. Set boundaries with family that clearly communicate that you will not tolerate disrespect.
We are to honor our father and mother; but when we get married, we leave their home and cleave to our spouse in a new home. Our marriage becomes the primary relationship. We can honor our parents to the extent that they do not cause you to go against your spouse and the decisions that you have made as a family.
What this means is that if your parent is speaking ill of your spouse, you need to stand up for them. A husband needs to protect his wife’s heart and spirit from attack by his family. A wife must do the same for her husband.
Respect includes not only our choice to homeschool but respecting each member of your family as well. Set boundaries with your family that they are not allowed to speak poorly of your family in any way.
Some family members will choose not to attach you directly about homeschooling but will use passive-aggressive comments in other areas instead.
#3 Set Your Boundaries with Family Verbally
If your parent is speaking ill of a decision that you and your spouse have made, you need to cut them off. Tell them firmly and calmly that your decision about homeschooling is not up for debate. If they something positive to say fine, if not – you don’t want to hear it.
Instruct your children to recognize the pop-quiz and to tell that nosy relative that they were told to tell her to ask mommy or daddy if you have any questions about school. Proactively, let the repeat offender know that their questions to your child are rude and inappropriate.
There are many annoying questions homeschoolers get asked not just at family gatherings, but in the grocery store and even at church. Equipping your children to stand up to this kind of bullying helps them to set boundaries with family, friends, and strangers.
#4 Be Prepared to Set Boundaries With Family Physically
We sometimes have those stubborn relatives that just do not listen. You can speak up again and again. You can rebuke them, but they are undeterred. Be willing to leave the situation.
It is not okay to have someone disrespect you or your spouse even if they are “family.” It allows resentment and frustration to hurt your marriage. Sometimes people need you to show them the calm, quiet resolve to leave as a sign of how serious you take their verbal bullying.
Be prepared to walk out, and actually do it. No yelling, just calm action. Just like with our children with discipline, we need to set boundaries with family and stick to it. And just like our children, your family will know that you are serious.
Bullying is when you will not agree to disagree on a situation and continue to pester someone into agreeing with you. Appeasement and subtleness often are lost on those who are used to verbal bullying. Instead, you need to be united, firm, and direction with your boundaries.
Related Reading: 3 Victorious Stories of Bullying in the Bible
#5 Setting Boundaries with Family Is Easier With a Wing Man/Woman
Do you go to your parents’ house for the holidays and the problem isn’t them but another relative? Speak to your parents about this behavior. They may not realize how disrespectful you or your husband find the behavior to be.
Advise them of your resolve to leave the gathering if necessary. Don’t have your parents fight your battles for you. Matthew 18 tells us that we need to confront one another in love directly first.
However, your parents need the opportunity to confront the bullying going on in their house as well. Once you have dealt with the bullying behavior first, you can share your concerns with your parents. As the hosts, they need to know if bullying is going on in their home.
Healthy Family Boundaries Build Stronger Families
Have you heard the saying that good fences make good neighbors? Good boundaries make for healthy families. Teaching your children how to set boundaries with family and others is an invaluable life lesson.
Setting up healthy boundaries not only protects your marriage and children, but it also models healthy family relationships for them as they grow up. One day your child will get married and will need to establish healthy boundaries with you as well.
Children and adult thrive on love and respect. Train up your child in the way that he should go, and when he is old, he will know how to treat others and what to not put up with as well.
The voice behind FaithfulMotherhood.com is Jyn. She is a veteran homeschool mom of three. More than just a pastor’s wife, she holds a Master of Divinity degree and has served in church leadership for over 20 years. Her passion is equipping parents to live out their calling as the number one faith influencer for their children. She longs to see moms empowered by God’s Word and transferring that love to their children through daily Bible study and family devotions.