Choosing to educate your children at home, at a public school, at a private institution, or a boarding school, is a polarizing decision, and not one that any parent makes lightly.

When the choice is made, the aftermath arrives: anxiety, guilt, fear, and the overwhelming feeling that everyone is talking about you behind your back.

Who have you offended with your decision?

A second generation homeschooler who puts their kids in public school can feel like she’s letting down her own parents, and the very cause she fought for for so many years.

The public school mom who simply cannot find safety or peace in the brick and mortar school she volunteered at and poured her heart into and who decides to bring her children home feels shame and embarrassment for abandoning what she originally thought was best.

The parents of a gifted and talented teenager, or a troubled youth, who make the difficult decision to send their child away because it’s in their own best interests, knows full-well that there are whispers and gossip at the water cooler concerning their family.

Here’s the deal: I don’t care if you homeschool.

I don’t care if you homeschool

You heard that right.

I’m not going to judge your parenting based on where your kids eat their PBnJ; a cafeteria or at your kitchen table.

It really doesn’t matter to me who teaches your offspring their math facts, a licensed teacher or his mom.

I don’t care if when we meet for coffee it’s at the country club during half-day kindergarten, or at the park while your homeschooled brood of four plays on the monkey bars. (Just meet me for coffee.)

We don’t have to agree on everything or see eye to eye perfectly to be friends. Having everything in common is total crap. How dull and boring to have a conversation with someone exactly like you. I wouldn’t want to hang out with a troop of clones who do everything the same way I do.

How would I learn anything, how would I grow?

I want to be around moms and dads who eat at McDonalds as well as those who grind their own flax seed.

Shadows Gray by Melyssa Williams

I want friends who can tell me what it’s like to build a house from scratch as a family, as well as the family who moves around from air force base to air force base.

I want moms who will pray with me, and moms who will cuss with me, depending on what I need at the time.

To be, or not to be, in the cult of homeschool

Homeschooling your children gives you a hand-punched card to a type of cult. You’re “in,” and those who aren’t will never understand.

You have the ability now to only fraternize with those who think the way you do, school the way you do, dress like you do, complete the same textbooks that you do, and go to church in the same building you do.

You can avoid the taint of anyone else by attending Homeschool Days at the Museum or Discovery Center, where you won’t have to be around public schoolers, and create your own homeschool sports teams, debate teams, and prom.

But I hope you won’t.

I hope you befriend the weirdest mom in town, the worship leader dad, the pack of unruly kids from the trailer park, the pack of unruly kids from Snob Hill, the mom with a nanny, that nanny, the grandmother raising her grandchildren, the teenage parents, the daycare worker, the mom with no bra and tattoos, the mom with a cross necklace and a sweater-set.

Reach out to all of them – their schooling decisions are likely the least interesting thing about them.

I hope you sit next to the kids who look like they haven’t bathed this week today, and the kids who look like they model for Gap next week. I hope you go to church with your neighbor on Sunday, and drink beer with your other neighbors on Monday.

Homeschool. Or don’t.

I’ll like you either way.

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The debate that shouldn't be happening