There is something about the finality of applying to college that can be divisive. It catches most people unaware, particularly homeschooling families where the students are aiming high. Although we are used to being the odd man out, accustomed to having to explain ourselves, we aren’t prepared for this hostility within the tight-knit groups to which we belong.
When others find out the colleges our kids are applying to (or have been accepted to), the conflict begins. It can be as simple as confusion on why our kid would want to go to college halfway across the country, to downright aggression that they are applying to secular schools. I think that at the foundation of this resentment is an imagined judgment – you think your kid is fill-in-the-blank (smarter, better, more adventurous) than mine. After years of working together and thinking they know you, suddenly they discover that your vision for your children’s future is very different from their own. For the first time, they are probably confronted with your child’s giftedness. They are brought face to face with your courage. All those things tend to be frightening.
I was careful not to talk about where my children were applying. After they were accepted into their dream schools, we kept a low profile. But, it always eventually gets out and the reactions stunned me. People who had been good friends for years suddenly quit speaking to me and basically cut us out of their lives. The hurt went deep, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would choose to let my children chase their dreams over the acceptance of other people.
That pain has already started for my private clients this year. The hurtful encounters are just beginning. However, I encourage you to stay the course. It is our job to help our children spread their wings and fly. It is also our job to stay grounded on the runway and deflect the resentment with as much grace as possible.
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