Thursday, April 20, 2017

When I Need to Mind My Own Business: 5 Tips on Managing Relationships & Dealing with Critics

Welcome to Day 4 of my Simple Homeschooling in a Complicated World blog series. If you are joining me via the Homeschool Review Crew Blog Hop...Welcome!

You can catch up by checking out this page here. I have had such good response with this series. My post on Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness has received a CRAZY number of views.

Today I want to talk about a couple of tough issues.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if one or four of you have a compulsion to call me ugly names in your sleep.

It wouldn't be the first time I've brought out the worst in someone. friends...I really think these kinds of conversations are important.

We are raising a generation of kids who need these lessons desperately.

And, trust me, I am walking this walk right along with you. I've had dark days. I've had days when I just need to apply duct tape to my mouth and call it good. I've had days that I needed to remind myself (over and over) that I don't know everything.

The following advice can actually be used by anyone calling themselves a human being. You need not be a homeschooler. And if by chance you aren't a homeschooler, please don't be offended if I lay some uncomfortable truths at your feet.

It is what it is.

Tip #1 - Mind Your Own Business

One of the most overlooked passages in Scripture comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 

Busybodies and gossips were alive and well, even in the Apostle Paul's day. Today I think we have even a heighten awareness of what our neighbor is doing because EVERYBODY POSTS EVERY LIVING MOMENT ON FACEBOOK!

Am I shouting? I apologize.

What's more. We all have become great and philosophical commentators of this thing called LIFE. We have an opinion about everything.

I will admit to following the adventures of April the Giraffe on Facebook from time to time. Of course, the real entertainment were the comments. For some reason, there were those among the viewers who had suddenly become experts in Giraffe Midwifery.

As if some of those among us (including myself) haven't felt the need to put our two cents in where it wasn't required...Now we all just beg for it.

"I am now going to make a politically incendiary comment so you can proceed (and possibly rightly so) to tell me how moronic I sound."

Here is where I start insulting non-homeschoolers.

Do you have a family member or friend who homeschools? Guess what. You don't get to make snarky comments about socialization or standardized testing.

You cannot possibly know everything there is to know about it.

Support that family. Love that family. If you sense they are struggling in some way, pray for them and find a way to lighten their load.

Tip #2 - You Don't Have to Tell Everything You Know

This bit of wisdom I learned at my father's feet. My very reserved Dad has trouble giving out his zipcode to well-meaning cashiers, but he does have a point.

Oversharing can only lead to uncomfortable situations.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with your kiddos (and the neighbor)

1. My private intimate life with my husband is my business. I am not going to expose that very sacred and secret parts to anyone else.

2. If I have a "beef" with my husband I don't include my son in my discontentment. Private conversations and hurt feelings cannot be shared with the children.

3. If I have a struggle with a neighbor or friend, I don't share those things with my son. My attitude needs to always be one of forgiveness and prayer.

4. If someone tells me something in confidence I am not allowed to use their life or situation as an example of "what not to do" for my son. I need to teach him that I can be trusted.

5. Most of the time my first reaction to a conflict is a wrong one. Just because I feel like I've been wronged doesn't mean I have to express that vocally. You can't take back words. You can apologize, but the sting is always there.

Tip #3 - Just Be Nice

Is this too much to ask, America?

Can we acknowledge to people we pass on the street? Can we greet the cashier at the grocery store with a friendly smile and greeting?

Can we just be nice?

I have been told before that we just need to be our true authentic selves. And if our "true authentic self" is grumpy and taciturn then so be it.

There are days that even my family doesn't need to meet my "true authentic self."  In fact, sometimes my "true authentic self" needs to chill out.

Brush the chip from your shoulder.

Fill your day with purpose. And that purpose needs to be edifying, not destructive.

Teaching manners should be a part of every good homeschooler's curriculum. I once had an older gentleman tell my son when greeting him, "Always give a handshake with a firm grip. Then look that person in the eye like you are glad to meet them."

Good advice for all of us.

Tip #4 - False Guilt

I've spoken about guilt over the past few days. We mommas like to "waller" in it. False guilt comes when we find ourselves guilty for something we didn't even actually do.

We wear it like a smothering cloak.

But let's take it a little further. Some of this guilt (most of this guilt) comes from the idea that we need to please everyone around us.

Don't get me wrong...I still think we need to be nice...BUT we also need to take comfort that our choices in life (such as homeschooling) don't  need anyone else's approval.

I have spent too many years apologizing for "how I be." I've apologized for not being well. I've apologized for being creatively fruity. I've apologized for liking to wear dangly earrings.

I've apologized for WANTING to homeschool my son.

Do you do this? Whenever I sense disapproval from someone about this choice, I start listing the reasons why we made it.

He is dyslexic.
We moved a lot in his early years.

Those things factored into it, sure...but here is the honest truth.

I love this Kid and I want to keep him at home. I LIKE homeschooling and there is nothing (absolutely nothing) wrong with it.

Don't let the idea of false guilt and pleasing others keep you from doing what you feel you are called to do.

Tip #5 - Live Graciously

I talk about Grace a lot on my blog. I feel that walking in grace means that we not only live in the grace God has given us, but we need to extend it to others, as well.

Here are a few quick thoughts about living a grace-filled life.

Use Grace when dealing with critics. Politely thank them for their concern and change the subject. You don't have to apologize or defend your position on homeschooling. Remember about what I said about guilt?

Be there for friends and family who experiencing a tough time. Don't feel as if you have to know all the right things to say. Your presence alone can be a great comfort. Your kids will learn from your compassion.

Accept apologies and extend forgiveness. Gracious living doesn't allow for grudge holding.

Don't use coarse or foul language. We need to learn to our express ourselves in other ways. Those kiddos are listening!

Learn to say "I'm sorry" when necessary. There have been many times that I've had to apologize to my son for my impatience. The world need not involve around my midlife hormones. You know what I'm talking about.

I like what this passage in Colossians has to say...

Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

One more thought about this and then I'm done. We need to be aware of our bodies rhythms and moods. Remember taking your toddler shopping during their naptime? How did that work out for ya?

Keep in mind your own state of being when communicating at large with the outside world (including your family). Are you experiencing your monthly hormone surge? Have you been overtly tired and a bit snappy?

Josiah used to comment on my "crazy eyes."

Bless his heart. Sometimes it's best just to be by myself.

You know what I'm talking about.

So that wasn't so bad, was it? I hope I didn't step on too many toes. Tomorrow will be an easier day, I promise.

But for now, what do you struggle with most in dealing with critics or relationships? Let's learn together!

Don't forget to check out the excellent posts from my friends on The Crew below!

5 Days of Homeschool Annual Blog Hop - 2017


  1. I, too, struggle with keeping my mouth shut. I also struggle with keeping my mouth shut when I shouldn't. Somewhere in between these two things is tact. I really don't have that either. My best relationships are with people who understand me, and overlook those flaws, as I overlook theirs.

    1. I think you're absolutely right about saving our energy in relationships for people who love us regardless. We spend too much time being manipulated by those who are hypercritical. The balance comes from not getting sucked into those criticisms and false guilt. And not getting drawn into their negativity.


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