An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends

An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends
Written by contributor Rachel Wolf of Clean and LuSa Organics

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how our relationships change when we become parents.

My relationship to my husband, myself, my community, and my friends transformed on account of parenthood.

And I didn’t see that coming.

I thought life with children would be much like life before, just messier.

It wasn’t.

I think I called my friends to apologize for the curveball but – with a screaming baby in my arms – said we might never finish a phone call again.

Then I promptly hung up.

We made it through, of course. (Mostly because my friends soon had children of their own and they started hanging up on me, too.)

The second curveball came when we chose to homeschool.

Somehow I didn’t see that one coming either. But homeschooling (like parenting in general) changes our relationships.

We committed to homeschooling on the day of kindergarten registration.

Living two blocks from a Waldorf school made the decision to keep our kids home more difficult.

With its softly painted walls, song-filled teachers, and baskets of seashells, the school looks like the world I want to live in. (But bigger, and with more kids.)

So we kept stalling on making our decision.

But as we prepared our son for kindergarten I realized that I didn’t want to send him to school. Not even that school.

As we set off to register I blurted, “Let’s stay home. I want to homeschool!”

And we did.

We saw our truth, closed our eyes, and leaped.

Diverging paths

Most of my friends never questioned their trip to kindergarten registration.

They were as thrilled to send their kids to school as I was to keep mine home.

I’m glad that we both found our right answer. There is beauty in our differences.

As their children head to school my friends now contemplate their next career move, preparing for when the youngest heads out the door as well.

They are excited for the next chapter.

And all the while I am here. Firmly rooted with my children, where I’ve spent the last decade.

I can’t imagine it any other way.

Redefining my friendships

Homeschooling – like motherhood – has shaped my life.

Our schedule, my ever-present children, even the book on my nightstand and how and when we socialize. All are touched by this decision.

And because of that I’ve changed the game on my friends once more.

I’m unlikely to accept a social invitation from a friend while her children are at school.

Because this is my time to be present with my kids.

While we gather frequently with other homeschooling families and connect with adults who serve as mentors, I’ve consciously drawn the line at socializing with my non-homeschooling friends during our homeschool week.

Because my kids deserve my focus. It’s the commitment that I’ve made to them. 

In fact, it’s my job.

Seeking understanding

How well do my non-homeschooling friends understand the changes in our friendship in recent years?

Sometimes I wonder if it just feels as though I’ve lost interest in their company.

It seems there are a few things I have not explained.

Perhaps it is time.

An open letter to my non-homeschooling friends

Dear friend,

Let me begin with this: I love you.

I treasure your friendship and look forward to all we will share in the days yet to come.

I want to acknowledge the changes that homeschooling has brought to our friendship.

Homeschooling has shifted my priorities, my interests, my schedule, and indeed my relationships.

When our kids were small I was as eager as you to visit. But lately I’ve rejected most of your invitations to socialize.

Heck, I often don’t even answer the phone. (But you know that already.)

The reason I don’t connect during the week like your other friends do is because I am working.

Working on homeschooling my children.

Even when it doesn’t look like we’re “doing school” we are engaged in learning.

  • While we prepare lunch we’re working on fractions and sequencing.
  • While we pull weeds we’re studying invertebrates, botany, and soil science.
  • After lunch we’ll do some math, spelling, and play games that help us with problem-solving, reading, and cooperation.

Homeschooling is my full-time job. And it requires my focus.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But that means that I won’t likely invite you over for coffee while I prepare lunch. And I can’t take a walk with you in the morning while your kids are at school.

Because I’m walking a different path now.

I ask you for your patience and understanding as our friendship shifts once again.

Though our lives look different than each others now, I’m grateful to have you by my side. (However rarely I am able to make that happen in the truest sense.)

The journey I am on is long, challenging, and incredibly rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

And I’m glad you’re here, cheering me on, and forgiving me for saying no to that coffee date yet again.

How has homeschooling changed your relationships? How do you make time to connect with your friends?

Originally published on September 5, 2012.

About Rachel Wolf

Rachel Wolf woke up recently and realized that she's living the life she has always wanted. Her days are spent with and two spunky unschoolers, running LuSa Organics (her small business), and hanging the laundry out on the line. Rachel writes about her homeschooling, homemaking, and non-violent parenting path on her blog Clean.


  1. I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I loved your letter. I have been raising and home schooling my children for 20 years.
    Just three left at home. I have a bit of a different way of keeping up with my friends that either do not have children, or their children are in school, or the friends that no longer have children in the home. I still visit, and still have them over. I just include my kids! We have lunch dates, we volunteer at the local library, we go to different friends’ homes. Their friends, and mine.
    I have found over the years if I put all my time aside for the children and no time for what I want to do I get resentful. I also feel that if they don’t have experiences of doing what I or their siblings or their father wants to do there is a risk of entitlement or selfish attitudes. We do a variety of things together.
    I do agree with phone calls or even email and computer time. That can get out of control very easily. I try to not answer the phone or check emails while attending to anyone. Not just my children. Just as I wouldn’t allow anyone to interrupt me or my children from speaking or showing something.
    I just found your blog. Thanks for writing.
    Vickie’s latest post: Happy Fall!

  3. I have never felt the need to explain our schedule to anyone. I had a family member say to me once, “you are not going to homeschool are you?” I said, “yes we are and if we were not I would go with the same decision you made for your child’s education.” Point dropped. I feel too many people in the homeschooling world seek the justification and acceptance from others to do so. None is needed.

  4. Thank you for this. I think I’ll share it on Facebook with many of my homeschooling and non-homeschooling friends. My daugher is four and already I see my friends edging away when they hear that we probably will be homeschooling. Heck, I could feel the change in relationships when we didn’t enroll our daugher in preschool at age 3, and then again at 4. Most of my friends are getting ready to go back to work, and are so excited to have “me time” again. I may never have time to myself again, let alone time to see friends. (At least that’s how it feels some days). I know that I have willingly chosen this life, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard sometimes, actually alot of times.

  5. I can so relate. And I love it. The kids and homeschooling is the most important job that I ever will have. It is so fulfilling. Thank you for sharing this. Fabulous.
    Ann’s latest post: God is all you need!

  6. It’s true how choices change relationships. Marriage, babies, and, yes, homeschooling.

    We are in our 19th year of homeschooling and the dynamic is still fluid. But good friends adjust. :)
    Alison Moore Smith’s latest post: 10 Superlative Reasons to Homeschool + Bonus

  7. I love your attitude! We thought about homeschooling very seriously, but in the end decided that it wasn’t the best choice for our family. We have many friends and acquaintances who homeschool, and while we completely respect and admire their decision to do so, we OFTEN feel a complete lack on their part for our decision. In fact, I’m now faced with the task of whether or not I post a reply on FB to a homeschooling mom friend who posted a Pinterest-esque sign that says ‘I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my children’ implying somehow that by sending your children to school you’re not raising them?! It makes me so upset!

    • I’ve seen that meme too. The village is fine. I already homeschool every day; it’s called life. We do the life lessons, talk about numbers, biology, history, reading, health and so forth. Public school will expand on that, get the fundamentals down and I’ll continue to homeschool.

      I’d try not to think much of that meme. Commenting is not going to change her opinion. And she probably didn’t think it through. Hopefully her children are taught better than that.

  8. Loved this article! I’m a new homeschooling momma and am in mourning over several unexpected things about choosing this new path. I didn’t expect it to change some of my closest girl friendships. They are well-degreed, very experienced public educators. I think they take my decision as an affront to their career. We just don’t socialize anymore. The passing by at church is always friendly, but surface level. I’m also mourning my dream of going back to work and getting some financial relief out of being dual-incomed again. We are strapped in a depth we never imagined.

    BUT. But…the gift of educating my boys…has been SO lovely! We’ve had some wonderful fun learning TOGETHER and the bonding is deeper than I imagined. So, the experience of where we are in Life right now is not what I ever imagined. But I’m prayerful that the return on this investment is deeper than any financial gain today.

  9. I found a somewhat different experience with my non homeschooling friends. Many of them no longer wanted to hang out with me because I had my kids with me and they didn’t. They wanted to meet for coffee with their fellow “free” moms and me and my kids would be kind of a drag. It forced me to gravitate toward mostly homeschooling friends who would understand my choice to have my children with me all the time. Is this situation atypical?

    • I know your comment was almost a year ago but I’ve experienced the same thing. I think it is a matter of perspective. If you don’t answer the phone you never have the chance for the friends to decide they don’t want to hangout with you and your kids. I think it is the trying to hold on to those relationships at the same time as homeschooling that leads to the inevitability of those friends realizing you are on different planets now.

  10. Karen Yingling says:

    Hi – found your blog through your awesome post “10 ways you’re making your homeschool harder than needs to be ” -great post and even though i don’t homeschool – most of those issues apply to me too!

    I liked the title of this – and I was hoping as one of “those” who have friends who homeschool (while we don’t), it would help me understand more and bridge the gap- instead of continuing to feel like my “homeschooling” friends tend to look down on those of us who chose not to homeschool. It didn’t. I am sure you didn’t mean to – but there is a tone that says “I love my child and am more committed to my child who is home with me all day so I am shutting you out – you who send your child away so you can lounge over coffee and long phone calls”. If that’s how you feel and it was intentional, then yes- the relationship will change. If that’s not it – if you fully support those friends who chose to send their children to school – then maybe, juts maybe, you are short changing them by assuming that they wouldn’t like to go on a field trip with you and your children – or have coffee after everyone is in bed with you. One of my best days was when my kids were in school and I was invited to a homeschooling outing .

    I love my children fiercely and am committed wholly to them – and because of that – I send them to school.

  11. I am homeschooling my amazing son. He is six and also has autism. Between going to therapy and our school schedule I barely have time to shower. I find some ‘friends’ think or thought I was always available because we were homeschooling. I had (had meaning we are no longer friends) one go as far as to drop by unannounced in the middle of our learning times. When I would try to explain we were not available she was rude, condescending and judge mental. She is no longer welcome in our home. I am actually a certified teacher with @ a decade of early childhood Ed under my belt.. I can say emphatically that homeschooling is a huge commitment.. And one most (unless they also homeschool) will not understand. I also see some actually attacking our decision as a family. With all that said I’m still overwhelmingly happy about homeschooling.. While at times I do miss my ‘friends’ , I also have gained one I did not see coming.. My child. He will very proudly tell me who his friends are.. And that I, mommy, am his best friend.

  12. I have to agree with one of the posters above. The tone of the letter sounds very “I’m more committed to my children then you are ” and is not likely to smooth over any difficult feelings between friends. I am somewhat unique in that I homeschool some of my children and some attend public school. Both are good options for different children and different needs. I have found the homeschool community to be much more judgmental about public schoolers than vice versa. I have also been a public and private school teacher and your example about applying math during simple activities is also done in schools.

  13. I have been homeschooling for 3 years now and I have a full time job as an online teacher….i am willing to admit that it has been a tough road and quite a struggle to keep up with both. I know I’m lucky to be able to work and still see my kids full time. Recently I have. Been very stressed and one of my best friend asked why I couldn’t just send my kids to school to help me but I don’t think that they understand. My kids are proud to be who they are without outside pressure to be someone they are not. Even more they get to pursue their own interests which they wouldn’t be able to do normally. I know it my heart it works….although I will readily admit I have a hard time seeing friends..homeschool and non homeschool.

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