Yesterday I was in need of some homeschool chatter so headed over to the forums at The Well Trained Mind.
A post touched me. I won't repost my reply, instead I'll just say this.
Homeschool support groups and online discussion forums are meant to be supportive. If people in real life or people in cyberspace say things to make a person feel badly, that is not support. If a family changes their homeschool method, it is no longer useful or supportive to frequent groups or sites that talk about the formerly used method if being around those people makes them feel inadequate, regretful or makes them feel inferior for their choice.
I feel that the best and smartest way to homeschool is to take advantage of the flexibility it offers and to customize the student's education to fit their goals, desires and needs.
If after thoughtful consideration, logical thinking and prayer (for religious people) certain decisions are made, the parent(s) should stick with their new plans and see how it goes. If after seeking information and listening to one's heart and gut feelings, a change is made, give it a try before deciding it was a mistake. Do not let your feelings of no longer being part of a group or stepping away from the mainstream be a reason to doubt your decision.
Remember, you are homeschooling to take advantage of freedom in education and to provide a good education for your child. The method you choose should be right for your child not just based on what your adult peer group friends or cyberfriends are doing! Homeschooling is not supposed to be about cliques between the adults and it is not about who is in or who is out of the group based on what the adults choose to do (i.e. method of instruction). Homeschooling should be about educating the child. Homeschooling is not about the mom and her adult friends and acquaintences!
Homeschooling is not about the one right way to educate, simply because with education and with homeschooling there is a wide variety of options available, there is no one right way for all children as children are unique people who have different life goals!
After a decision is made to make a change, and after investments and committments are made (i.e. enrolled in online classes or bought expensive curriculum), let it happen and give it a try instead of second guessing or fretting before the new thing even starts. Perhaps the real issue is a fear of change? If you have already made the decision to change and invested money into the decision, then let it happen and start in before doubting yourself.
It is not support if you seek counsel or hang around listening in to others praising other methods that you are no longer using. If hearing all that is hurting you in any way, ask yourself why you are doing that to yourself? Why invite self-doubt by being around people praising your discarded homeschool method as the right and best way to homeschool?
Parents of children with a learning disability often struggle in this area also. When working hard to teach a child who struggles it can be hard to just hear typical complaints that parents have about kids because their child with an LD on their best day may not do as well as that other child on their worst day. It can also be hard to be around other parents who are ignorant about the LD or who just simply do not get what the family is going through. That is why parents of LD kids sometimes both seek out special support networks as well as intentionally avoid being around certain other specific people or entire groups of people.
Support is supposed to lift you up, to encourage and to inform. If negative things are happening as a result of being around so-called support groups, that is not support, and you should consider either cutting off or greatly reducing exposure to those people. Find new circles of support that will provide positive support and encouragement.
Changing habits such as no longer checking that Yahoo Group daily or no longer chatting with some nice people whose lives are now on a different path may hurt for a little while, there is a grieving process whenever friends or cyber-friends leave our lives. However if you let them, new friends will enter your life and will fill those voids. Find new sources of support and spend time learning about the new-to-you homeschool method so your questions can be answered and so you can find encouragement from others who believe your new method is worthwhile.
Remember what the definition of support is, and if people or groups, online or in real life are no longer truly being supportive, avoid those and seek out new groups that are actually supportive to you.
In a nutshell I think the recipe for finding support and encouragment has two prongs: choosing who to be around and choosing who to actively avoid.