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Question: We have been blessed with seven wonderful children. I am homeschooling the youngest three (ages range from 9 to 16). Two of our sons are in college, and two children are out of college and on their own. We just had our first grandchild, a grandson in April!! We enjoy homeschooling, and my husband and I do not plan to place our children in public school despite the fact that we are having some financial difficulties. A relative of mine has suggested I go to work to help supplement my husband's income. My children and homeschooling are my priority, and we are "getting by" on just my husband's income. How do I respond to my relative that says that I should put our children in public school and go to work? Yes, it would help us financially, but at what cost?

Dear Mom and Grandmom,

Congratulations on your children and grandchildren! 

The financial advice you received is probably common. I received it as well. Yes, it might help you financially to go back to work, but the other costs are high as you mention. In this present economy, so many people, even two-income families, are struggling to pay their bills and are fearful of tomorrow. The economy, for some, has become the yardstick by which to measure all. But as you know, we are more than the amount we are earning or are able to earn.

Keep in mind that the advice is most likely well-intentioned and that many people are not aware of the present environment in many schools and the enormous difference that home schooling can make in a child's life. So here are some options to consider:

1) You can listen attentively and thank the relative for the advice. Do this and nothing more each time the relative brings up the issue.

2) You can explain that your children are your priority and that you feel peace about your decision to home school. On the other hand, you feel more anxious about their welfare when you consider putting them in a public school than any anxiety you feel now about your finances. If the relative has an emotional-feeling personality, this response may be sufficient.

3) For logical-thinking personalities, you can add up the costs and income and see for yourself how much of a difference it would make. In our situation many years ago, we added up the costs and income and discovered that we would be ahead by only $15 to 20 a week. The difference in your situation will depend upon whether any jobs are even available in your area, how much they pay, commuting, and many other factors that people don't consider. For instance, if your sons in college are receiving any financial assistance based on your husband's income, that assistance may disappear if you increase your income. I have heard that now student loans may be more closely tied in with income. In this economy, you can't even be sure how long a job will last.

4) Finally, if your relative is persistent, you can explain in detail about the costs of public schooling and the benefits of home schooling. Public schooling does cause anxiety, and too often parents are left in the dark about what their children are learning. Children are rushed constantly in the schools I have visited, and they have to learn how to tune out many (unnecessary) distractions throughout the day so that they have great difficulty focusing. The herd mentality can take over and create so much friction at home.  I was shocked to discover how necessary school counselors were in the elementary schools. Some school children appear to have emotional issues because no one is at home. I know of adults who do not care to come home to an empty house, and so how much more difficult is that for a child? When you home school, you can work together in a truly cooperative way, your children know what to expect, you know what they are learning and how well they have learned it, and you don't have children sick with fear over mandatory government examinations. You don't want to provide all these details with the intent of causing the relative's eyes to glaze over, but to reassure your relative that you have considered this matter in-depth and that you have valid reasons to back up your decision.

God bless you and your relative,

Sandra Garant

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