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Ask Jeanne: Don’t Homeschool My Grandchildren


Ask Jeanne: How can I talk my son and daughter-in-law out of homeschooling?I know you know about this homeschooling thing. I understand it probably can help some kids, but my grandchildren are absolutely fine, and they don’t need it. My daughter-in-law quit her very good job when they were born (twin girls) and now when we bring up preschool, she says she’s homeschooling. I thought this would pass, but she recently mentioned not registering for kindergarten next year.

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We have really good schools here, probably some of the best in the country, and I am devastated thinking about these dear little girls missing out. My son won’t talk to me about it; I think he has his head in the sand and is so busy supporting the family (this is a high cost area) that he just goes along. I know homeschooling should be legal for the children who need alternatives if they can’t function in school, but this is not the case. How can I get them to open their eyes?

You sound really concerned for your grandchildren. The thing that gives me hope here is that you found me and wrote to me, a homeschooling advocate. This must mean your own eyes are at least a little bit open to homeschooling. However, if you have done much research beyond finding me, you know that homeschooling advocates don’t think that homeschooling is only for children who “need alternatives if they can’t function in school.” You may be thinking of homebound instruction, which is sometimes provided by a school division when a child cannot attend school due to illness or a specific situation.

Homeschooling is different. Homeschoolers come from all walks of life, and it is a positive choice families make because of its many benefits. Even the best schools in the country don’t do the same things as homeschooling families. You can read some of the articles about the benefits of homeschooling by googling that phrase, or looking for Benefits of Homeschooling articles at

I encourage you to learn more about home education and explore the many reasons why families choose it. At the same time, consider some of the things that have been happening in public education these days, and see if you can understand why parents may not want their children to attend. While public education has been the default for many years, an emphasis on standardized testing and minimum standards has greatly changed the nature of public schooling, so much so that many of my long-time teacher friends are even making career changes if they can, while others are doing their best to provide a more varied education in the midst of the testing mania, telling me they often feel they are swimming upstream against the regulations they are required to meet.

There are many other reasons that parents may seek alternatives to school, some of which are unfamiliar to those who grew up during a time when attending school was just not questioned. Do some reading and research.

Most importantly, though, I think you need to consider a shift in your perspective to your adult son and his wife. While you can provide information to them about the good schools in your area, and you can share your love and concern for the little girls, you cannot “get them” to change their minds.

There is a chance that the reason your son will not talk to you about this is that he and his wife have already made a firm decision, and you have not respected their decision, but considered it open for ongoing debate. In some cases, “the homeschooling question” between generations is not actually about homeschooling but is about relationships.

You sound concerned for your son, that he has to work hard as the breadwinner in a two-income world, and you’re a bit blame-y here that your daughter-in-law’s choice to quit work and homeschool is the cause of this. However, many parents make these decisions together. You are casting your son as a victim here, but he’s not complaining about it, and in fact isn’t consulting with you on the topic even when you give him openings.

I say this part of the problem is one of acceptance. Your son and daughter-in-law have made decisions about the way to raise and educate their children that you don’t agree with. You don’t know much about homeschooling, but you’re not mentioning reasons they shouldn’t homeschool, like the children not being well cared for or not learning, or that their mom has a mental illness or a drinking problem.

This puts the question of homeschooling firmly in the realm of other decisions that your adult children make. As in, none of your business.

I sympathize. Having adult children who make independent decisions can be a giant worry. Our task as parents of these older children becomes how to handle this changing aspect of our relationship with them. You can find good books and articles about this, or you may want to talk with a pastor or counselor about learning to deal with this.

In the meantime, I can guarantee if you want your son not to talk to you and you want distance from your grandchildren and daughter-in-law, keep criticizing and questioning their decision to homeschool.

There is another course you could take, however. Be honest with your son and say something like, “I don’t know much about homeschooling and I worry about it, but I’ll try to learn, and I want to support your decisions.” Then ask how you can spend time with the kids, what educational resources they might enjoy as gifts, what experiences you can share through field trips and attending plays or art exhibits. Perhaps you can enjoy weekly or monthly library visits with the girls. That would make a great memory for them, and would provide a break for their mom.

Expect a slow warm-up; they will be waiting for the other shoe to fall.

Over time, though, you can demonstrate that your love for this young family does not amount to needing to control it. Over time, you can learn to better manage your anxiety when your adult children make decisions that you would not have made.

Finally, consider the possibility that you are feeling a bit “burned” by the fact that your son is making a decision to do something very different from what you did in raising your own kids. Sometimes these decisions can feel a lot like criticism to us oldsters (I myself have a mix of still-homeschooling and adult children, so I qualify as an “oldster”). As in, “We did the best we could when we sent our kids to school as was expected. Does this mean they think we did the wrong thing?”

This manages to cast you yourself as a victim. Chances are, your son is not judging you at all because you sent him to school. Even if he didn’t love school when he attended, he knows that school was the status quo during his growing up years. He is, with his wife, simply making a different choice for his own children. Examine your heart and see if this feels directed at youthen examine the logic: this is not about you — it’s about what a mom and dad feel is best for the children they have responsibility for.

The children happen to be your granddaughters.

Love them, stay close, and enjoy learning about homeschooling and relationships.

Submit a question for Jeanne

Grandparent Guide to Homeschooling

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Jeanne Faulconer

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia for twenty years. Jeanne is director of Brave Writer's Homeschool Alliance, which provides homeschool coaching, community, and "grad school for homeschool" for parents. She is the contributing editor for TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter and writes the popular Ask Jeanne column, addressing homeschool parents' questions here at TheHomeSchoolMom. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne has conducted portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress for many years.

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  1. Alice J Wright

    I’d really like to post, because it would expiate some of my own stress, from my own parents.

    I want to clearly lay out what it feels on the daughter-in-law’s side – without even having a mother in law of my own (passed away), but actually from years of dealing with my own parents.

    Like the grandmother here, my own parents lack boundaries. I don’t know anything about this particular poster – but my own parents have been a destructive influence in my life. They never saw me as separate from them even when I was young – literally controlled what I studied and focused on in school – molded me to be an exact replica (as best they could) of what they valued: math and science, and engineering. Even though they personally hated working in the corporate world, hated engineering, and were actually misogynistic to me when I interned at their company – they still wanted me to follow their footsteps – and I mean exactly in their footsteps. They never wanted to admit that putting us in a public school was traumatizing to us – especially as immigrant children, completely unaware of any social nuance, and from an isolated immigrant family. They never seemed aware or to care about what their need-for-prestige through us was doing to us on a psychological and emotional level. I would say my entire childhood could be reduced to a form of psychological battery – guilt, shame, and performance based love. My mother loved to talk about how she was working, and was irate to see that we longed for a home making mother who baked cookies and was emotionally there for their children; she would constantly deride these mothers, and also the wives of her coworkers who “did nothing” at home. I grew up watching in envy an environment of peace, love, and presence that other – less academically performing, less wealthy kids had, that we did not. Sure, I was in advanced classes and did well in high school (and finally, after dropping out and restarting, well in college); but I was emotionally crippled for life.

    After my first child I quit my Fortune 500 job in engineering, which, by the way, was horrible up until the end. At the time there was nothing but derision and abuse, and no growth ladder for women. My parents wanted me to be a martyr so that my kids could “have the life” of living in literally a mansion, with prepaid college. I would still go back to work eventually to help pay for their college, but I will not destroy whatever happiness there is in my life by sacrificing the precious time I have with them when they are young.

    By the way, these very same “so concerned” grandparents told me they would retire to help with the kids – but when push came to shove never did. They were A-okay with some stranger watching my kid in an overpriced, uncaring, sausage-fest preschool. Because this would validate their own child abandonment.

    Abandoning your child has real consequences. Your child can be teased, bullied, or worse at school. When you then inflict more trauma by introducing performance-based love, you aren’t helping even if it means more money, money, money. Money is important – and certainly a person should work before they have children, and this can be a valid argument for the need to do well in school. Or after the kids are older. When the kids are young and emotionally needy – guess what, they don’t need a mansion, they need YOU. There’s something seriously wrong if on one good income you can’t make ends meet for a few years to take care of your kids.

    In my case, my parents have continued abusing me, pitying and alternately hating my husband for “working so hard’ and at the same time not giving up his life and job to move into a house next to them. They wanted to invade and move next to us. They bring my kids gifts and try to buy their love. And every day they send me hateful emails about how my kids will surely fall behind and never make it to college.

    They don’t see that my children are happy. They don’t see that my 5 year old does double digit addition, is starting to read, can write his name, and many words, and is quick to learn other facts – but not just facts – concepts, and that he speaks like a mature little thinker and feeler. All they see is failure and disappointment because we are not Harvard lawyers like our cousins or who knows what else they need to feed their ego.

    Here’s a thought for your son – move out of a high-tax school district and live in a low-tax one, where one income is affordable. Put the extra money away for college.

    My parents LOVE to say – oh, you’re not thinking of the welfare of the kids, you’re thinking of your own needs, and you’re not sacrificing for the kids. But they would be HORRIFIED if I left engineering for a low-prestige thing like opening my own daycare. It would NEVER be enough – only if I am SUFFERING are they happy.

    All this distracts me. It takes away from my ability to be present with the kids. It pounds on my already high anxiety. It treads on my worst fears. It makes me walk a wire, even here in the privacy of my own home.

    I think it’s a HORRIBLE thing to do to anyone – especially your grandchildren’s parents.

    I’ve literally cut my own parents out of my life over this. Yes THIS is what it comes to.

    It’s been 6 years now of hearing nothing but doom and gloom and shame game from them. Your chance to be a parent ended when your kids had their own kids. Face your own life and live your own life. Your kids are not abusing your grandchildren. They are not ignoring, hurting, abandoning them. They are not pushing them to perform or psychologically abusing them. If there were some kind of issue on that level – I’d say “fine” I get where you’re coming from – you’re truly concerned about the kids.

    Hopefully, your concern is actually for the kids, and not your own ego and need to have your child be a narcissistic extension of you.

    I needed to get that off my chest. I come from a very emotionally abusive family, so maybe yours is different, but that’s where my mind went to when you said that.

    • Jeanne Faulconer

      Alice, I’m so sorry for the pain in your family life. Your sharing your story may help grandparents see what can happen at the extreme end of interfering with their children’s decisions in educating the grandkids. It can and does happen that grandparents can become alienated when they try to control other adult family members and how they are raising children.

      I know grandparents read this piece, and I hope they heed your comments.

      I hope also that writing it out was beneficial for you. Having a childhood that was singularly about achievement and looking good to others does not compare well with having a childhood where emotional closeness and cultivating autonomy were valued.

      I hear you.

      Wrapped into this whole conversation is that nurture work is not valued in our society. Vital to human development, caring for children is nonetheless commonly carried out by unpaid and low paid workers, most often women.

      The work of nurturing has no status; thus, the choice to spend a lot of time doing it leaves people open to criticism and those who would like to force other choices because they so highly value status.

      I hope, Alice, that your choices to take your family life in a different direction with your own children brings you peace and healing.


    • Sarah McDonnell

      Alicia, you anxiety is high because you are under a sustained attack! It is a normal response, especially when you are a mama! But you have already won this war by taking responsibility for your self and family, making well informed decisions, and taking the hard-work action. It’s sort of like a shark attack at an a aquarium, you have to take a minute to digest that you are safe outside the glass, startled, but not dinner. And you will still be startled every time the shark crashes into the glass but you must remind yourself that it’s not time to be anxious.
      We may have been separated at birth! I have must have the same shark mother! However, we are on a HUGE adventure, parenting and mentoring our own children! Where would the world be if adventurers like Magellan or Sir Walter Scott had chosen to stay ashore for the work security and better pay?
      Hugs! We are NOT afraid of sharks! Right?

  2. Laura Newcomer

    Look at it this way, you can spend as much time with the grandkids. Be a part of their education, thus being in your sons life forever. You have a choice too. Teaching them to be in the community along side you as you run errands, interacting with all race and age. Everything is a teaching moment. Enjoy them

  3. Brian

    Thank you for the awesome response Jeanne. I was always opposed to homeschooling; but now I couldn’t be more for it. In my opinion, it is the only way to build a solid Christian foundation in my kids lives.

  4. allison

    I have a 15 yr old and 2 yr old twins. My oldest has always been in a public school but I do wish my circumstances had been different so he could have been homeschooled. The distractions from other students, bullying, teasing, learning foul language and inappropriate topics from “friends”, no individual attention, or worse, a bad teacher has made me dislike the current system. Even in the “good” schools he has been in have elements common to every public school. He is in high school and struggles but after dealing with teachers all day he shuts down from it all. My husband and I are planning on homeschooling our twins. We helped teach them to walk, use a spoon, count, etc. Why should it stop there? Having two also means double the homework help, projects, classroom expenses… adds up. We can go outside and teach them both without worrying about what crap they are learning from classmates. Schools are scary these days. I applaud your son and daughter in law for making that decision.

    • Brian

      Well said, I couldn’t agree more with you. Not that long ago I was that impressionable kid learning (and unfortunately teaching) classmates curse words and other terrible things. Feel so blessed that my wife and I can homeschool our kids.

  5. Anna

    Hi all, so I have made the decision to homeschool my son again for his 4th grade year, he also has a 2yr old baby sister whom I also intend to homeschool. I home schooled my son up until 3rd grade when I made the choice to allow him to go to public school because of personal health issues among the fact my mother and younger sister would not stop arguing with me about how he needs this that or the other that he can get “more” of in public school, which I knew was wrong but here I am having this argument again and I don’t know how to deal with them, they have a tendency to be very opinionated but mostly behind my back but in front of my children. I don’t want to tell them they can’t take the kids anymore but I’m tired of this! Do any of you have any suggestions that might help dealing with family that disagrees with you??? PLEASE HELP! Thank you! Anna ~the homeschool mama~ 🙂

  6. Sara Audette

    Our case is reversed. It took forever to convince my daughter to homeschool my granddaughter. I have been fortunate to have had my granddaughter living with me for 7 or her 11 years due to family circumstances. After spending 1 year with her mother in another state, I brought her back with me to my home in Florida. I started homeschooling myself for her and it has worked wonderfully! She was an A student (honor roll) and although her grades slipped to low 90’s — she “gets” it. She thanks me continually for letting her “ask” questions, re-read a passage, stop for her to take notes (I found out these were all things she was sometimes reprimanded for in public schools). This beautiful (inside and out) child was physically and verbally bullied at school. Her consistent high grades were her doing of studying at home and after school with little time for other activities. Now she “gets” it and has time for her passion (swimming). When we finally realized what was happening, I realized, once again, our children do not “ask” to be born; it is 100% OUR responsibility to take care of them, protect them when possible, and provide for them. In our case, homeschooling was the “only” answer! And as the grandparent, it works. Next school year, my daughter has agreed to continue the process. I’ll miss being the teacher and grandmother, but thrilled this works!

  7. Rosemarie

    When we began broaching the subject of homeschooling our four children, 30 years ago, one set of grandparents were open to it, the other were not. I gave them good books on the subject and tried to discuss it but it went nowhere. They did not attend our homeschool graduations or any of our outings or field trips. Now that we have four adult children who are brilliant @ what they do and are thriving as Christians in their various spheres. One is a master carpenter, one is a marketing whiz, one is a youth pastor, and our daughter just graduated college with honors having played two college sports. Three are married and having their own children now. These same grandparents are very proud of them now but I have never had a kind word about how we educated them. I am sad that they allowed a wedge to come between us because of our choices. I struggled mightily all those years of school — I am smart and capable but have an artist brain….. Even with that, God was merciful. My children tell me how grateful they are for their education and they say that I taught them to think and their dad taught them to work. The open-to-homeschooling grandparents ended up being a bigger part and influence on their lives. Now that I am a grandmother I can sympathize with the difficulties of differing choices with your grown children….but I also have seen first-hand that
    it is far better to be supportive and to undergird rather than to oppose. You can be a beautiful resource and a beautiful memory and influence in your grandchildren’s lives.

    • Lourdes Relyea

      Great response! By reading the grandmothers question, it seems that the root of disagreement goes beyond her son and daughter-in-law’s decision to homeschool. Hope Grandma sees the light! Getting to homeschool our son is the best decision we made.

  8. Michelle Cannon

    Excellent response! Except for the mention of mental illness, which is no reason for a mom not to homeschool (I know many moms with bipolar disorder who are homeschooling – even some of these homeschool bloggers have bipolar disorder. Four of my five kids are diagnosed and will still homeschool their kids), I agreed with every word of the article. Sharing it!

    • Ettina

      Mental illness can be a reason not to homeschool if it’s not being managed well. Kids who have a chaotic home life may find school is a refuge. But you’re right in saying that it’s entirely possible for a parent with a mental illness to do a great job homeschooling.

  9. Kacie

    Also, if the concern is that the children will miss out on things — field trips, sports, social activities, prom, music, etc., that is not the case. Homeschooled kids have more opportunities! It is wonderful!

  10. Kacie

    Wow. To the grandmother, it’s clear you love your grandaughters very much. It will help in your relationship with them to improve your relationship with your daughter-in-law, which I know can be difficult.

    Even the best public schools have their problems. Public schools today are not the same as they were when your son was in school, and absolutely not the same as when the grandmother was in school.

    Children today do lock-in drills in case of an active shooter. Kindergarteners can be exposed to words and topics far beyond their maturity levels from their own peers. Then in a classroom of 25-30, the teacher must often cater to the louder students, or the ones who are behind. There is little time for individual attention.

    Test scores are paramount. Teachers are often frustrated that they need to teach to the test.

    Students often spend lots of time lining up throughout the day, are rushed through a quiet lunch, and their recess minutes are dwindling. They must sit in their chairs and be still and quiet for 7-8 hours.

    It is not ideal.

  11. Erin D

    A very thoughtful response, Jeanne. I wanted to offer my own thoughts to the concerned grandmother: Like you, my inlaws and my own parents (most of whom are teachers) were concerned when both of their sons’ families decided to homeschool. After seeing that bright children as well as those with learning challenges can thrive in a homeschooling environment, they have become our biggest supporters.

    They have enriched our family’s homeschooling for 10 years now with field trips (as suggested above) as well as helping as a lap for reading practice, math lessons, and lots of love. If there is an area where you can support your son and his wife’s decision to homeschool, I think that in a year or two you will be very happy that you did. You sound like an intelligent woman with a lot to offer, so start brainstorming not about how you can dissuade them from homeschooling, but how you can be their biggest cheerleaders.

    P.S. We have graduated one student already and the others are performing well above grade level due mostly to the one-on-one time they receive regularly!

  12. Abrianna

    I thought that was an excellent response. I do want to point out that just because your daughter in law is home, does not mean she is not working, Homeschooling is work, hard work at times. Also please do not expect their home to be immaculately clean. In fact, it might be worse than what you are used to since three people are now home and using the space all the time. Most homeschoolers choose to concentrate on school when they are schooling, not house cleaning, just as you do not expect a public school teacher to also be responsible for mopping her won floor while she is teaching.

    • Home Schooling Granny

      I just want to say that I am a 69 year old grandmother that has home schooled my 9 year old granddaughter for almost 3 years now. And no she lives with her mom and dad. It has been the absolute best decision me and my family have ever made. I have a bedroom all set up as our classroom. My granddaughter chose how she wanted it decorated and the colors on the walls. It’s so pretty and she has thrived in her classroom. As a 69 year old woman it has given me a reason to get up in the morning. It has helped me as much as it has helped my granddaughter. I was diagnosed with cancer last year. I went through surgery, chemotherapy, and lots of bumps but we didn’t stop home schooling. No plans to ever stop home schooling. I love it. My granddaughter and I have had so much fun and we are very close. I believe any child would benefit from home schooling. I wish more grandparents would keep an open mind. Help out when they can. Maybe take a turn and teach their grandchild something fun. Home school can be lots of fun if you choose to make it that way. Grandparents have lots of wonderful skills that could be taught in home school.

      • Jenny

        What a fantastic grandmother you are! Your grandchildren will absolutely cherish these memories with you. This made me so happy to read. 🙂

  13. donna herman

    I m proud of my children who been homeschool and grandparent disapproved is wrong. her son has right chose , for some states charter programs do help parents become the best teacher for their child. remember you are your child first teacher.

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