A few days ago, I was browsing the blogosphere and came across a post written by a mother who’d decided she was no longer going to homeschool her children. She listed the various reasons: homeschooling was just too difficult with little ones in the family, she didn’t feel she was doing a good enough job, and maybe her children were better off at school away from an unhappy and struggling mother. 

There were nearly 100 comments. Now I didn’t read them all, but it seemed to me that the majority were written by mothers who appreciated someone confessing their problems with homeschooling. They found it refreshing to hear someone being honest and open enough to admit that the homeschooling life isn’t as rosy as many people make out. They felt able to admit their own difficulties. They'd found a kindred spirit.

I have also come across many posts where mothers admit how inadequate they feel when they read other bloggers’ posts where homeschooling successes are shared:

“I hate reading about all the wonderful things other mothers are doing with their families.  I always creep away feeling like I am failing as a homeschooling mother. I have to remember that I shouldn’t compare myself with anyone else. Every family is different. So I've decided not to read this sort of homeschooling post.”

It would be easy to come to the conclusion that posting about homeschooling successes is probably not helpful at all. It’s not what readers are looking for. So…

I had a really difficult day today. No one cooperated at all. I wonder why I bother. I just don’t enjoy homeschooling at all.

Except I didn't, and they did, and I do know, because I do! I had a great day with the girls. I could tell you all about it… except probably nobody wants to hear what we did. And I don't want to make anyone feel inadequate. That would be awful.

How do bloggers share homeschooling stories without making others feel they are failing? What are readers really looking for when they browse homeschooling blogs? I've been thinking about this and I really don't know. 

Do you?

Post a Comment

  1. Ah Sue, you authentically enjoy being with your children - the joy is visible! That's why your posts aren't threatening, but refreshing. I've read blogs from moms who have no financial issues, 7 day a week household help, money for tudors and outside classes and somehow create these wonderful, posts that are unattainable to us regular folks. The sad part is, mostly they don't share what makes them able to do all that - the household help, the level of income, etc. Then there are other moms, like your poster, who seem happier away from their children and interacting with other adults. It's better for their children to be at school. Personally, I don't want to emulate that person, so I don't read those blogs either. Authentic - give me authentic! That's why I read here.

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    1. Beate,

      I think that one of the reasons I feel compelled to write is the feeling of joy that overcomes me at times. I sometime want to share that feeling! I am so glad to hear that it is joy that is visible and not superiority. Joy comes from God. He is so good!

      Thank you for your kind words and thank you for reading my posts!

      Delete
  2. Interesting question Sue. As for the original blog post you read with the 100 comments, I bet everyone was just trying to make that poor mom feel better. The decision not to homeschool is a tough one, and they were providing support.

    I do know that unless you are doing something to be deliberately hurtful, then you have no responsibilities for the feeling of others. They are in charge of those. So if someone comes to your blog and reads about your good days and leaves feeling lousy it's on them, not you.

    I recently had a conversation with a friend about blogging. She was worried because she has radically changed homeschooling styles over the years. She used to write quite a bit about her old style, but never really wrote about the change and why she made it. She was afraid that people were reading her blog and making educational decisions based on what she was writing. She didn't want to be responsible for how people's kids turned out. I told her that if someone wanted to put so much stock into advice from a random mom off the internet that they were not making their own educational decisions, then they DESERVED to be disappointed in how their kids turned out. Totally not her fault.

    I like reading about her educational journey -- it was helpful to me. I like reading about your good days -- they inspire me. You've also had bad days. I know, because I have read about them. I like reading about those too, because of the insights you share about them.

    Imagine if you got a comment from someone asking you to stop writing about grief because it depressed them? Totally not fair. For someone to try to dictate what others write on their blog through a thoughtless comment is just, well, thoughtless. If you don't like what goes on at my house, feel free not to come over. ;-)

    I will be honest, there are a couple of blogs that I have chosen not to read because they make me feel inadequate. I know those posts can't be telling the whole story, but still it makes me feel like I am coming up short. Somewhere out there someone else is finding those blogs inspiring, so I QUIETLY left. To do otherwise would just be rude.

    So write about what you want to write about. Write about what God puts on your heart. If someone makes a rude comment, delete it, pray for them, and move on. Love you!

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    1. Pam,

      I can relate to what you said about your friend changing homeschooling styles and feeling responsible. We all have changes in opinions and methods as time passes. Nothing stays exactly the same forever... but yes, there are all those old blog posts... or in my case, old homeschooling newsletter articles. Maybe they might still speak to someone even if they are no longer representative of my present thoughts.

      I am smiling over your words: "Imagine if you got a comment from someone asking you to stop writing about grief because it depressed them?" I sometimes do think that everyone will groan when they see yet another grief story, but I also think, "They needn't read it, if they'd rather not!"

      Pam, everything you say is so sensible. It's my blog and I can write about whatever I like, and no one need visit and read if they can't relate to my stories.

      No one has left a rude comment, so I didn't have any particular personal reason for bringing up this topic. It was just after musing over a few posts I'd read recently, I began to wonder if perhaps I was making someone feel inadequate, by sharing my homeschooling stories. In the last 20-21 years I have certainly had my share of homeschooling failures, and I guess I am relieved that after all that time, I do have some positive things to write about!

      Thank you for your encouragement, Pam, and your friendship. I treasure those words: "Love you!" xx

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  3. So much to say, where to start..... I have experienced both sides of the coin so to speak. I have read blogs that make home schooling seem so blissful and easy that I find myself questioning my own abilities. I myself have written posts about our good days and our successes (though in all honesty, I cannot say whether the motivation was to build myself up or to help others in their home schooling journeys).

    I have stopped following certain blogs because they are full of complaints and others because they are so unrealistically perfect I can't relate. It just isn't easy to find that balance in blogging or in life.

    I agree with Beate that authenticity is key. I have a few home school articles and blog posts I have come across that I enjoyed so much and was so touched by, that I printed them out and keep them in a binder to re-read on the days I need a little reminder of why I am doing what I am doing. They all have one thing in common. The authors start off by admitting they do not have all the answers. They readily admit they are not perfect and not everyday is great but they share what works for them and what they have learned or discovered along the way. There is humility and gratitude and faith infused through the stories and that is what gives them that balance. I try to do the same when I share about my family's life- good days and bad.

    I am anxious to hear what others think and will re-visit to see the comments and dialogue that this awesome post inevitably sparks....

    Thanks as always for giving us something to think and share about!

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    1. Kari,

      Your comment is more thought provoking than my post. "There is humility and gratitude and faith infused through the stories and that is what gives them that balance." Yes! I agree that's what makes a great homeschooling post. Maybe we need to bear those points in mind, like you, when we are writing, especially when we are sharing positive stories.

      I can always strive to be much more humble, but I do feel such gratitude for everything I have and have experienced with my family. Sometimes I just want to write because I am so grateful to God. I know we can't do anything, whether it's mothering or homeschooling, on our own. I didn't find that out for some time. Maybe that's when the tide turned, and we started to feel peaceful about our homeschooling life together. Maybe we have to put our trust in God, rather than in ourselves. And communicate that in our blog posts. Then our successes come over as something to share and rejoice about, rather than as something to feel superior and pleased with ourselves about.

      Kari, thank you for sharing this great comment.

      God bless!

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  4. I agree with Beate about being authentic, Sue.

    I think success stories are good if people come away encouraged - if there's something helpful or inspiring that they can take from it to use for themselves. I think your posts do that.

    What is discouraging, I think, is when you come across superfamilies who stir feelings of inadequacies or people who never admit to ever having had a lean time. They set an artificial standard that can leave other people feeling like failures - including young mothers who are left thinking they should be achieving the same as families with older children.

    You always encourage me, Sue, so I hope you keep sharing your stories and tips!
    God bless, Sue:-)

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    1. Vicky,

      We all have lean times! Yes, it's just whether we admit it or not. I think as I get older, I am more comfortable about admitting my failings. It seemed important, when I was a younger mum, to keep up appearances and not admit I was foundering. Nowadays I can look back and write about those difficult days. Perhaps I couldn't have done that years ago.

      I sometimes feel I want to encourage other mothers through those difficult times, so they don't get bogged down by all the unimportant things which seem so overwhelming when we are less experienced. I do feel compelled to say such things as, "Slow down and take time to enjoy, because time goes so quickly and soon you will be like me, on the tail end of homeschooling." But maybe it is inevitable we all travel our own journeys and everyone needs to find this out for themselves!

      I will always share my stories with you, Vicky. You are sort of obliged to listen as you are my little sister. I should thank you for always making me feel so needed!

      God bless!

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  5. Hi, Sue: I haven't commented in so long....so many excuses I don't need to bore you with, though.:( I love this post because I have been on both sides....leaving blogs that I have a tendency to be jealous of....I don't want to visit them anymore because they make me feel inadequate....they don't inspire me to be better. And I know I have left people feeling inadequate with some of my posts. The former is my problem....I repeat....my problem...not yours (the writer), but mine. If someone comes away from your blog feeling inadequate, that is their problem. Secondly, I think you have to know what your goals are for blogging and know your audience. I have no audience or at least a very select few people who read my blog. One of my biggest fans is my mother. She really has a hard time hearing anything "real" about my life/our homeschooling life. She takes it very hard if I post "real" things....lean times, personal failures, hardship. She takes things very personally. Because she is my number one reader, I post a lot of positive, upbeat, successful things. I know even my sisters have a hard time with my positive, successful posts thinking they could never measure up, but I know they are big girls and can handle things better than my mom can. Isn't that weird, but yet it is true. My mother was never taught not to leave for or through someone else. To teach her these things would be pointless as she is much older than me and comes from a VERY different cultural background. To respect her is to accept her. I realize that attitude does not match our times, but she is definitely from a different time. I know that about her and like I said, she is my number one reader. I hope I'm not painting my mother in a very negative light, but rather an honest one.:)

    I think you post for YOURSELF and that's great! I also do, but sometimes I have to keep my "bad hand" close to my chest and put my poker face on. Besides, I go to other sources to cry my tears into my beer....like commenting on other people's blogs that my mother does not read!!;)

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    1. Grace,

      It is so lovely to see you back on my blog! I know what you mean about not commenting. I haven't been very good at that myself recently. Life sort of takes over and time is short... I imagine you have very little free time with your cookie decorating business.

      Audience? That's a good point! First and foremost, I do try and write for myself. But I do love sharing as well! All the commenters who visit my blog are kind and generous and encouraging... homeschoolers or Catholics or both. I don't know who else reads my blog. I do post grief stories in the hope they will help someone, so maybe some bereaved parents...

      I don't post stories particularly so my family can keep up with what's happening with our children. But I can see how you need to bear your mother in mind when posting. We can't always be totally honest about exposing our feelings and situations. You have to be respectful of your mother. There are also limits to what I can share concerning the older members of my family. I can't really write a post called, "The Frustrations of Mothering Young Adults"!!! (Only joking, kids!) Yes, we find the right place to confess our difficulties. " I go to other sources to cry my tears into my beer....like commenting on other people's blogs that my mother does not read!!;)" That made me smile! I like that.

      Thank you for sharing and making me smile, Grace.

      God bless!

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  6. Sue
    Oh you do like to ask the thinking questions:) Reading through the comments I found myself nodding and agreeing with all.
    As readers we have to be aware that the blog writers are only sharing snippets of their story, if they are having a great time, rejoice for them, if it is too much positive for where you are at, quietly click away for your season.I do believe there is a balance we can find to share our hs stories, "this is happening and working really well FOR US, AT THIS TIME." In other words, be humble, what you do works for you, not for the gal next door, however you should be able to share that.
    If the gal next door can't handle it (and you have shared with humbleness) than it is a reflection on where she is at not you. And she only needs to click away.

    btw Pam great advice to your friend:) and I would so love her to share her story one day.

    Now on the other hand I like REAL blogs, but I don't think that means moaning and groaning continually, but then I'm a positive person by nature, so I would tend to share a small snippet of woe and then move onto the positives more to cheer myself up than anyone else. Actually I have a draft on this topic at present, how much do we share...

    anyhow Sue you have nothing to worry about, your blog is real which is why I love reading:)

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    1. Erin,

      The thinking questions? It was funny. I suddenly had this thought about blogging and homeschooling, rather late last night, and just had to write the post straightaway. I'm glad I did. The comments have been so interesting!

      Humble? That fits right in with Kari's comment. And maybe it also ties in with faith, when we realise we wouldn't get far without God and prayer.

      I am always very hesitant about writing as an authority. I try not to say such things as "Do this... you need to think about that..." Instead I tell what is happening in our family and what is "working really well FOR US, AT THIS TIME."!! Erin, you are so right. Readers can then take it or leave it. They won't feel pressured to try and do things our way.

      Perhaps real blogs involve exposing feelings. They involve some risk. It's not always easy to open up and tell people what's really happening and what we are really feeling. But I think the risk is worth it. Without a degree of honesty, posts don't ring true... they are not authentic...connections aren't made and we can't share in a meaningful way. Of course, we don't want to hear only tales of woe though! Sharing joy and gratitude is good too. I am now anticipating your post!

      Thank you for your encouraging words, Erin. I will stop worrying.

      God bless you!

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  7. I agree, that "keeping it real" is a key in blogging about homeschooling. That is what, ultimately, keeps me coming back to a certain blog.

    There are all kinds of folks in the world, and the variety of blog styles satisfy the needs of different temperments of people who follow them...should we expect or even want all blogs to be alike? NO! That would be boring.

    Personally, I am inspired by the moms who post great ideas that they share through their blogs. And I commiserate with the moms who are having a tough time, and I want to encourage them. I think we all have triumphs and failures, and that you need to keep a perspective on the bogworld of " they are only sharing the tip of the iceberg here! People only blog about what they are comfortable sharing" Too many whiny posts tend to send me away from a blog, but if it is just a tough time they are sharing and keeping it real, I appreciate their struggles and hope to leave them an encourageing word, just as I would a friend in the "real" world.

    Reading blogs would be dull if they were all the same!

    In other words

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    1. Karla,

      It's funny how we expect everyone to be just like us when, as you say, "there are all kinds of folks in the world." There are loads of blogs I don't feel particularly drawn to that are very, very popular. They are fulfilling lots of readers' needs, needs of people different to me.

      You are quite right about bloggers not telling the whole story. Perhaps we wouldn't want to know everything, even if a blogger is willing to share!

      An encouraging comment on a post must really help when a mother is struggling. Thanks for reminding me of that, Karla. I know I always appreciate it when someone stops to support me. That's the lovely side of blogging: helping each other along with a kind word or two.

      Thank you for your comment, Karla!

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  8. I've been thinking about this since I read it this morning, and I still haven't come up with a firm conclusion. Honestly, reading about other peoples' successes pushes me to keep trying on my bad days. And when I read about other peoples' bad days, it helps me figure out ways to keep the same thing from happening in our own homeschool.

    -Angela.

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    1. Angela,

      You are so positive! I like your attitude. That's a great way to read blogs. I wonder if you are basically a very secure person and so don't let other bloggers upset you, but instead find something positive to take away from their posts. I guess we all have something worth sharing if readers take the time to find it.

      Thank you for returning to my blog to share your thoughts!

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    2. Sue -

      It's definitely not a case of being a very secure person! I wish :D Really I just want to learn as much as I can to help come up with new ideas. I'd be doing the same thing if my son were in public school.

      I do agree, though, that every homeschooler has something worth sharing! I like that about the community - that people are usually very glad to help each other out.

      -A.

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    3. Angela,

      I guess reading homeschooling blogs is similar to reading homeschooling books. I've got a library of those, and like you, read them in order to come up with new ideas. Yes, we want to give our children the best education we can, so we read and think, reject some ideas and put others into action.

      I've also come across some wonderful people through the online homeschooling community. We don't all have to be the same but we can be friends and support each other.

      Great to share with you!

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  9. Refreshingly honest, Sue! I don't know if I could homeschool my children. My first child would have been fairly easy - my second - no way, Jose' and my third - hmmm - maybe. Sadly, I feel like a good teacher when working with other people's children in the classroom. With my own, I feel inept. I really admire what homeschooling (or unschooling) parents like yourself do everyday!

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    1. Dana,

      I really appreciate the fact that not all mothers can or want to homeschool. We are very fortunate to be in a position where we can homeschool. I feel it is a privileged position. And I also feel it is so important to have good teachers... like you and Andy. I love reading about your adventures with your children at school. Despite not being at home with Mum, the children are still in a privileged position because they are being taught by someone who is very devoted and caring.

      Thank you for your comment.

      God bless!

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  10. Great post, Sue. There have been times when I've found myself completely discouraged by certain blogs, and I grow weary of reading how fantastic and perfect some people supposedly are, when I know, that really, blogs show only a snippet of people's lives.

    Some like to show only the positive, but I'm finding I much prefer those 'real' blogs - that do show emotion, and show the good with the bad.

    As I was in church this morning, the words 'balance' came to mind, and this is what I've been praying about today - finding balance in my life.

    We all have joys to share, proud moments, and days when everything just goes right. But, there are also days when nothing seems to work - and it's OK to share those days as well. People like to know we are human, and not (always!) super-mums.

    God bless,

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    1. Linda,

      I remember, years ago, wanting to know what homeschoolers DID all day. I liked reading about their ordinary days at home. Also, their successes encouraged me along. We didn't have the internet in those days. If we had, I imagine I would browsed blogs a lot looking for both inspiration and encouragement.

      Maybe if we reveal ourselves as human and not as super-mums, we give permission for others to be human too.

      I've been thinking a lot about balance too lately. I need to find some in my life as well!

      God bless!

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  11. I think I read blogs mostly to learn, and what I am ready to learn depends on what season I'm at. Sometimes I really appreciate, say, a visually beautiful post or an awesome organization post -- but at other times it is discouraging because I am so far from there.

    I think I almost always appreciate a positive, constructive outlook. When bloggers discuss a problem, I feel like I can learn by hearing how they dealt with it and how they thought and felt.

    I also appreciate hearing about the little things. Even if they are selected, they still bring out the personal element, and I suppose that makes me identify more with the blogger. So I suppose along with learning, I am looking for connection, for a feeling of relatedness.

    I go to different blogs for different things. Some blogs just awe me, but I don't feel so personally connected. I might go there for a specific reason, perhaps when I'm planning or organizing or looking for pretty inspiration.

    Others, like yours, make me feel like I am listening to a friend. It's not that you don't sometimes awe me, but that you sound like a real person, not Super Mum. I think because you show your personality so clearly, I can see that this is YOUR way, not THE way, so I can learn without feeling I have to copy you in everything : ).

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    1. Willa,

      Yes, I also go looking for particular information at different times eg I wondered how other homeschoolers are teaching high school chemistry so I did some searching and reading. It's good to pick up ideas from other bloggers.

      I like to read about how ideas are put into action in each family... How the ideas work in practice. Would they work in our family?

      The little things? Maybe it's those that make a blogger seem real, and not just a remote 'expert'.

      Willa, I am certainly not Super Mum! (You spelt it our way! How thoughtful of you!) No need of any awe. I would much rather be a friend. You remember how Vicky and I adopted you? I wrote in a comment: "Because you don't have a sister I will just have to adopt you! We can be internet sisters and who knows, one day we may get to meet." That's what I like about sharing homeschooling on our blogs... friendships!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Willa.

      God bless!

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