Amongst the tons of pro homeschooling posts that are produced everyday, there are at least half as many con. It can be very hard to hold our metaphorical tongues when reading the horrible descriptions and arguments being made against us. However, before rushing off to quarrel with every Tom, Dick, and Harry, consider this: Should you speak your piece?
Not everyone who is game for a debate is worthy of your time and not everyone who is spouting off really wants a debate. So, how can we know when it is a good time to engage and when it is time to walk away? I think there are some pretty solid indicators….
Is this person ready to hear? Usually, just by reading a post, you can tell whether or not that person is open to discussion. Are they presenting themselves in an open manner, inviting information to be shared, and asking questions? …or… Are they casting judgement, being rude, snide, and disrespectful? You can pretty much tell when someone is, generally, willing to be reasonable and hear you out.
Is this research or opinion? Another indicator would be to measure whether or not the post is based on research or just opinion. If the person is quoting others and listing articles to read, they are fairly invested in the debate and you might be able to suggest some reading of your own. If, on the other hand, they are simply spouting off and giving no evidence whatsoever, you can guess how far you’re going to get.
Is this going to benefit anyone? Sometimes, as my husband is always careful to remind me, we engage in debate not for the writer’s benefit, but for the benefit of other readers. We might not change the mind of the writer; sometimes it is enough to just make them keep quiet! When reading a hostile article, consider how you might influence another reader with your comments.
If, after all this, you still think a response is in order, proceed with caution. How you respond is huge.
Pray, pray, pray – Before we ever open our mouths (even metaphorically), we need to make sure our words are a true representation of what we believe. As a Christian, I want to make sure I use words which are humble, consistent with my beliefs, and truthful.
Speak in love – You are not going to win anyone over with more snide, rude comments. Think carefully and word your responses with kindness. Our goal is to reach people in a positive light, not to give them more fuel for the fire.
Be ready for a response – Rest assured, you will more than likely be given a response in return. Sometimes it will be positive and sometimes not! Don’t lose heart; again, your comments might benefit another reader if not the writer of the article itself.
Knowing how and when to respond to homeschooling antagonists is not fool-proof by any means. There are times I have started to respond, only to hear the Lord telling me “no” and others when I would prefer to just walk away when the Lord is clearly telling me “speak up, girl”. Sometimes I have gotten good responses and other times… well, let’s just leave it at that.
When you do choose to engage, proceed with confidence… speak your piece!
How do you know when to engage in a healthy debate or walk away?