Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Most Offensive Question Ever

This photo does not directly pertain to the subject of today's post. I just love this pic of my handsome husband canoeing with our youngest son. We have tried to carve out time every week to have adventures as a family, and while it isn't easy, we have been at least partially successful. Homeschooling has also made the goal of being a close-knit family more achievable. Building a cohesive family is just one of the many reasons to homeschool.

Which brings me to the actual topic at hand today. For those of you who homeschool, please share the most offensive question anyone has ever asked you about homeschooling. Please also share how you addressed this question. I'm going to share mine below in a minute. Did I handle the question as well as I should have? Probably not. Please feel free to share your story, even if it includes your less-than-perfect response to an offensive question. I have been homeschooling for 10 years, so I have truly heard it all.

I am astounded by the number of people who just don't understand what really goes on in most homeschooling families. That's fine, of course: One of the tasks that we should not shy away from is to gently inform and educate others. However, it can be challenging to provide an edifying response when the questioner is acting like a member of the Spanish Inquisition. How can we respond sweetly to hostile questioning in a way that disarms the inquisitor, informs him or her of the truth, and doesn't "blow our witness"?

And now for my question: "Does everyone in your church homeschool?" I almost fell over when asked this question. In other words, "Are you part of a cult of religious fanatics who can't think for themselves because their minds are controlled by a charismatic but insane leader?" I think that this questioner thought that my family and I were under the spell of a David Koresh-like pastor. Yikes! She really had the wrong end of the stick.

I was so very offended that I probably didn't respond as well as I could have. I didn't freak out and get overly defensive, either, so that is a positive. I told the truth, which in my case was a wimpy option that quickly disarmed the skeptic, but that didn't tell the whole story. I said, "We started homeschooling because our children needed to be challenged." The truth is that we didn't start homeschooling for reasons related to our Christian faith.

The questioner seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "Oh, well, if they needed more challenge..." I was off the hook, but I immediately felt ashamed of myself for not saying something that conveyed the fact that while we didn't begin homeschooling to strengthen our children's faith, we certainly did continue to homeschool after getting to know Christian homeschoolers and coming to realize the amazing benefits of including and acknowledging God in our daily lives. Challenging our bright children academically was vital, but of even greater importance in their development was challenging them spiritually.

I'm disappointed with my incomplete and cowardly reaction to the inquisitor. This person has now moved away and left our lives, so my opportunity to educate her about the wonderful things that God is doing in the Christian homeschooling community has passed. Maybe next time, I will do a better job.

So, speak up! Do you have a similar story? I'd love to hear about it.


  1. It's not specifically a question - but, I get this alot from my relatives....."You have to send them to public school ---- you don't want them to be weird, DO YOU????"

  2. I think we will always get all kinds of questions. It's good to think about how to best respond - like a missionary would. But people watch how we live more than listen to what we say, so to speak!

    Mrs. White