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.

 

13 replies
  1. Bostonian
    Bostonian says:

    I found this your most hilarious post. For a moment there, I was worrying that your IP tracking had led you to have too much insight into my life.

    As for perfectly calibrated drinking, one of the successful gifts I gave my wife was a book called The Three-Martini Playdate: A Practical Guide to Happy Parenting.

    Did you really mean the link for “a nice childhood is one where the parents are respectful” to go to a brief description Tiger Parenting, which doesn’t include the word “respect” at all? That description contrasts “power-assertive type parenting” and “supportive parenting.”

    And finally, do you think that some parents are so far into one of these tendencies that they really shouldn’t be homeschooling their kids at all?

  2. Mr. Butter Passing Robot
    Mr. Butter Passing Robot says:

    This was great. Genuinely funny. That last paragraph was gold.

    In all sincerity, do you ever find in yourself or other homeschooling parents someone who wants to take on a real challenge?

    In my better moments, I imagine myself as someone looking for opportunities to confront the world in ways that are sure to expose important soft spots, places where I have lots of room to improve, where improvement is very possible and where improvement will meaningfully enrich both my life and the lives of those I encounter, starting with my kids.

  3. Erin
    Erin says:

    The best part of this post is how you imply you hate the person who made that LEGO pizza slice bc it’s just SO DAMN GOOD. Jealousy in small doses is hilarious.

  4. Hannah
    Hannah says:

    LOL! I love the alcohol parent mention at the end! Question: Is “The Guru” with the husband with a mistress two blocks down an under-the-table dig at someone you know personally?

    If so, that’d be fabulous! I was wondering if it was!

  5. Katarina
    Katarina says:

    All humor aside, I have been homeschooling for ten years around lots of other homeschoolers and none of them fit into any of these categories. Perhaps you would like the category I am in (along with almost everyone else I know): the muddle- through mom. That’s what we do. Never sure of anything, constantly having to realize that our objectives and aspirations will never be realized, certain that we probably got it wrong much of the time. Few people get external validation. We live with the ambiguity and uncertainty of it all. Car naps help! You need to have a really warm coat in winter, though, unless you let your car idle with the heat on endlessly. I also made sure I had something that would work as a pillow. In any parking lot where homeschool moms are waiting for their kids to finish some activity, look for idling cars and you will find a mom napping (and a book she attempted to read — but never got past the first page — possibly over her face to block the sunlight to ensure a deeper sleep). Parking lots are like sleeping lounges…windows cracked, seats put back…no one interested in being interrupted with a casual “hello”. Do NOT interrupt a sleeping homeschool mom. It is too cruel. Just wanted to throw in a glimpse of reality about most people I know.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I like that you added a new type of mom. Well, new to me. Because I’m not in homeschool groups or in parking lots :)

      I hope other people added types to our list.

      Penelope

  6. Liz Deacle
    Liz Deacle says:

    Are you stalking me???
    Fab post and I’m so glad you mentioned the alcohol one.
    Me? I’m more a sit in the toilet and cry for approximately 22 minutes a day while I look at every other perfect parent in Facebook, then come out – guns blazing, pencils sharpened and maths books at the ready. Until lunch time. Then I have another little cry.

  7. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    The Guardian article is a hard one to read. It’s for that reason it should be read to completion. Twice. Children’s mental health issues were surveyed every five years by governments in the UK but were ended in 2004. Then references are made to how much worse it has got since then. I think there are basically two kinds of people. People who look for and see things for what they are and those who prefer to be led by others with blinders or filters. I’m in the former as it makes more sense to me (especially from a long term perspective) to know the realities to more easily deal with them.

  8. J.E.
    J.E. says:

    What about the religious homeschoolers? In my part of the U.S. that group makes up a sizable chunk of homeschoolers. The parents don’t want their kids in a secular school, but can’t afford a private religious school so they homeschool their kids. Activities and lessons are tailored to align with and affirm the family’s particular religious view.

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