Have you ever noticed that mothers are constantly questioned about the decisions they make for their children? From what we feed them, how we protect them, the way we discipline them or maybe neglect them (we call it "teaching independence"), it seems everyone has another way to do it. And whether or not they come right out and say it, it's usually implied that they think their way is better than yours.
On the surface, it seems to make perfect sense. I love my kids, ergo, I will make what I think are the best decisions for their upbringing. If my decisions are best, and yours are different than mine, then, by the transitive property, your decisions must be inferior
I think the fallacy we are operating under with this model is that there is one way to raise a child. That is simply not true. I know this. Everyone knows this. Yet the mompetition--if you will--persists and the human tendency to want to win sometimes trumps grace and kindness when it comes to interacting with other moms.
Nowhere is the parenting technique divide wider than in the way we choose to educate our children. Some choose public school, some private, some home school, while others might do none of these things, or a combination of all of them.
I used to feel "less-than" when talking to moms who educated their children differently than I did. Whether I was picking up on non-verbal cues that these mothers really did think I was inferior in my intelligence and lacking in foresight, or my own insecurity was the culprit, it always felt like the education discussion was an attack and I was on the defense.
Until one day.
I was in the produce section of the grocery store with one of my kids. We were buying something and talking about price per pound. We covered estimation, multiplication and measurement just in picking out a few Honey Crisps. And it hit me: This is homeschool. Life is homeschool. I educate my children every single day.
Manners, comportment, social interaction, work ethic were all things I teach my kids just as a matter of fact. I give them religious education at home as well as financial education. I teach math when we make cookies and science when it snows. They pick up computer science, graphic design and music composition from playing video games (this might sound like a stretch, but my 16 year old has started to compose some of his own music based on his interest in video game music). They learn about the natural world around them by exploring outdoors, biology from catching frogs and finding owl pellets. Nutrition from family dinners and helping to cook, health and fitness from bike riding, running, jumping, and hiking. Engineering from fort building and strategy from playing games.
I supplement this homeschooling curriculum with public school, Boy Scouts, church every Sunday, family vacations, and summer camps. I even unschool on days we just need to relax. I do it all!
Regardless of where we send our kids every day from September to June, every mother is at least a part-time homeschooler.
I don't feel threatened anymore when another mother's choices are different than mine. All of the mothers I know are doing the best things for their family they know. Just because their "best" doesn't look like my "best" doesn't make either of our efforts inferior.
We don't need to separate into sub-groups of public schoolers and homeschoolers in order to claim an identity. Rather, let's embrace our shared, greater identity as mothers. Because we need each other, and when it comes to mothering, don't forget: There is more than one way to raise a child.