Recently, I ran into a homeschool friend that I hadn't seen in a few years. As we began to catch up with one another, the inevitable question came up, "Are you still homeschooling?"
With a downward glance and slight shuffle of her feet, she responded, "No. We had to give it up last year because...."
But before she could continue with her explanation, I gave her a hug and interrupted, "Please don't feel like you owe me an explanation. You've made your decision and I'll support you in whatever way I can." Her face brightened, the tension eased, and we were able to continue our conversation and, more importantly, our friendship.
I"m ashamed to admit that I haven't always been so gracious. Very early in my homeschooling journey, I would have pressed in and tried to "help" her see why that can't possibly be the best choice. But it never worked and it usually killed what little hope there was of retaining the friendships.
If you've been around homeschooling as long as I have, you will probably encounter families along the way who will decide that homeschooling is no longer the right choice for them.
Change is never easy, but that doesn't mean I have to make it harder on them. The worst thing I can do as their friend is stamp a judgment on them, make them feel that they are a failure, or destroy the friendship because they have changed the way they educate their children. Once the decision has been made, it's time to move on and allow God to lead them in the way that they should go. If that's back to homeschooling then I'll be there to help them along; if not, then I'll still be around as their friend. Friendships are more important than homeschooling.
It's a lesson I learned the hard way, but at least I finally learned it.
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