Here is a list of homeschooling parents I hate. It’s all-encompassing, so hopefully this list will allow each of you to feel recognized in one way or another.
1. Nurture Nazi. You are well aware that in the nature vs. nurture debate, nurture is so so so far in second place that if you want kids who are happy adults, you should marry someone with genes for happy adulthood. But you want to be better at parenting than anyone else, so you keep trying to impact the outcome in outsized ways starting with homeschooling. You tell everyone else about (questionable) data promoting the importance of nurture. This serves as a pat on the back to yourself and lets other parents know they are not doing enough.
2. Beach Queen. You find comfort in knowing nature trumps nurture. You do seaside yoga and sunset meditations because you have free-range kids. Somewhere. You will call them for dinner but there are no takers because you craft 30-ingredient vegan meals that even your spouse won’t eat. As a celebration of self-directed learning, you make playdates with moms you like even though your kids don’t get along. Everything is great for you because your head is in the sand.
3. The List Maker. You are aware that a nice childhood is one where the parents are respectful of the kids and practice active listening. Yet the boredom of attentive parenting nags at you. Parenting is about living in the moment, but only 50% of humans are good at that, and you’re not one of them. So you do what you do best: make homeschooling lists and academic plans and have heart-to-hearts with the kids when you find their execution skills to be sub-par.
4. The Shopper. You are shopping for a new socioeconomic position. The desperately aspirational usually operate via their kids, which is convenient, because you have some. You strategize when it comes to vacations, camps, churches, and most of all, private school. Parental social climbing is always couched in learning (the most amazing school) and followed by a rehearsed ignorance of the ways of social climbers. (as in: Why would I do that? I like where I am.)
5. The A Student. Your life is a trail of letter grades, test scores, and salary increases that testify to your success. You are addicted to external validation, and you don’t see how the homeschool thing works: why would everyone be doing this when there is no gold star? You announce you are too intellectual/active/visionary for homeschooling and you hire tutors. And a nanny. You spend your time sowing and harvesting gold stars, and also feel no one will notice when you award yourself a few gold stars for parenting as well.
6. The Guru. You read everything and tell everyone everything. You are sharing. It takes a village. (You appreciate the research that says pundits are not right more often than non-pundits, they just talk more.) Your kids’ science projects thrill like sparklers and their Lego projects look like their tutor is Tary. And you cultivate an edge for good measure: You and the kids study art history by tracing the human drive toward pornography. Your spouse, also a maximizer, has a mistress two blocks from your house.
7. Chill Girl. You have four-process six-figure hair color that looks no fuss. You had kids early so you’d have more time to enjoy them, and also because you got a teaching degree and were sick of dealing with other peoples’ kids. For your family, every day is a new educational adventure that is miraculously color-coordinated. You splurge on Zuilly and Mini Boden for the kids because this is the style that matches your hair.
If I’m being honest, these are just the seven types of terrible parenting I do myself, and I’m driving my kids insane with my inconsistencies. The only consistent thing is that I’m a better parent with alcohol. That’s the missing type of parent: the one with perfectly calibrated drinking so as to be both socially acceptable and infinitely patient for homeschooling as self-actualization of both parent and child. Where is that parenting type? I need a role model.