If there really is a specific concern, and it is valid, ask for advice. Be clear that you have no intention of putting your child into an institutionalized school setting, but maybe together you can come up with a new way of approaching a problem or dealing with a situation. Is your friend willing to address the issue by playing a larger role in your child's education? Ask if she would be willing to offer tutoring, take your child on field trips, give you a break, or whatever the need. This is very disarming. You are making it clear that you hear her and take her concerns seriously. If she agrees, the skeptic becomes part of the solution by becoming part of the home education process. Grandparents especially can be great at this. Although my own parents have never been completely on board with homeschooling, they have participated throughout the years by taking their grandchildren on educational field trips, buying them books and educational games, listening to their lessons, reading with them, babysitting so my husband and I could have some grown-up time, and sharing life lessons and eyewitness history accounts. Because they love us, and they know we have our minds set, they are willing to participate for the good of the family, even though they don't agree. Our whole family has been greatly enriched by their involvement. Now, after twelve years and our first homeschool graduate, they are starting—just starting—to come around to our way of thinking!

This is all nice, but what about those who are not so well meaning? Proverbs 26:4-5 says, "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit." This is not contradictory advice, as it seems on the surface. God is telling us to assess each situation separately. There are times when we are supposed to ignore malicious comments and times when we are supposed to answer. We see this demonstrated in the way Jesus dealt with those who put Him to death.

"And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? Tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am." (Luke 22:66-70)

When the religious leaders, who thought of themselves as wise, attempted to trap and humiliate Jesus by their words, He didn't allow them opportunity to say, "See, He doesn't have an answer." He answered directly, truthfully, and with confidence. When someone is arrogant, and will continue in his arrogance if we don't answer, we are to follow the example of Jesus, and calmly answer with conviction.

It was a different story when Jesus was brought before Herod.

"And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing." (Luke 23:8-9)

Herod had heard about this fellow who could feed multitudes, heal the sick and raise the dead. He had heard of Jesus' unusual teachings and how He answered the religious leaders. Herod wanted to see a show. Jesus didn't give him one, no matter how much Herod provoked. When someone makes malicious comments in order to engage us for his own entertainment, we are not to be like him. Don't give a show. We are to follow the example of Jesus, and give that person no answer. Even if the remark is just chatter, as in the case of Cousin Tom, this is the correct response. Though he was most likely making an offhanded remark that meant little to him, Cousin Tom was joking for his own entertainment. The best response in that case is no response.

No matter how we respond to criticism of our homeschooling, we may never persuade our detractors. Jesus handled every scornful remark perfectly, but He was still crucified, because God had a higher purpose than winning arguments. Giving the correct response doesn't mean we will "win" from an earthly perspective. We can be assured of God's higher purpose, though, and He is the One that we strive to please. When we respond in a way that is pleasing to Him, we can relax, and leave the critics in His hands.

*This article published September 17, 2007.

Kathryn Frazier homeschools in freedom with her husband and five children in Tampa, Florida. She can be reached at kathryn.writes@hotmail.com.

This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct '07 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more details, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com