10 Moms On Feeling Shamed For Sending (Or Not Sending) Their Kids To School This Fall
Making hard decisions is what raising kids is all about, but the choice moms and dads across the country are faced with right now has got to be one of the most agonizing in recent parenting history. And as if choosing between sending your children to school in a pandemic or homeschooling for the foreseeable future wasn't bad enough, now moms everywhere are feeling shamed for sending (or not sending) their kids to school this fall.
Surveys from a handful of different states show that when it comes to reopening school, parents are not on the same page. A survey by the Minnesota Department of Education found that "more than one-third of Minnesota parents are uncomfortable or unsure about sending their children back to school this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic," MSN reported. In North Carolina, nearly half of Patch readers said it was "too soon" to reopen schools; in Georgia, over half of Patch readers said schools were not ready to safely reopen, according to Yahoo! News. In a survey of 25,000 western New Yorkers, on the other hand, 68% said school should resume as normal in September with new protocols to reduce the spread of COVID-19, reported NBC's WGRZ.
Whether you believe that schools should reopen or not, the decision you make to send your child (or keep them home) is a personal one involving very complicated factors like work, finances, and mental health. Unfortunately, no matter which way you go, you can be sure that someone in your life will think you made the wrong choice. Some of the moms Romper spoke with are already being criticized by family and friends for what they've decided to do about school this fall... and the ones who haven't been shamed just yet are bracing themselves for the inevitable.
1. "My mother-in-law has been sending me daily death tolls."
“Homeschooling did NOT go well these past few months, and as such, I’m sending my twins back to school in the fall to start third grade. My husband stupidly told his mom, and now my mother-in-law has been sending me daily death tolls — I kid you not. You would think that she would be happy that I want my kids to be educated, which is something I’m just not equipped to do. But no, she acts like I’m sending my boys to the slaughter.” — Monica, Utah
2. "The one shaming my choice is my spouse."
“The thought of my 5-year-old wearing a mask all day long, stuck with the same kids, and eating lunch at his desk was too much for me, and so I’m opting out of school for the fall. My husband thinks I’m being dramatic, but I feel that there is still so much that is unknown about this disease, and in particular how it affects children. He says our state isn’t seeing that many cases like in Arizona or Texas, but still. We’ve had a lot of fights about it, and it’s sad, since the one shaming my choice is my spouse.” — Mina, Hoboken, New Jersey
3. "I am expecting people to have opinions."
“I am keeping my three home next year and hoping for a distance learning option. If one isn’t offered, though, I will be homeschooling. Two of my three have such anxiety and I think they would be very stressed worrying if everyone was following all the rules this year. Plus, I saw such a significant decrease since distance learning began in their stress levels. Of course, I am expecting people to have opinions about the choice once I ‘announce’ it.” — Amanda, New Fairfield, Connecticut
4. "The moms in my mommy group think I’m crazy."
“I live in Nashville, and here, many moms in my area are planning to homeschool. I totally hated it, and to be honest, I think my kids didn’t like their homeschool teacher, either. For that reason alone, they’re going back. They aren’t babies (they’re 10 and 8), so they can handle wearing masks, and I think they would greatly benefit from the socialization that comes with school. The moms in my mommy group think I’m crazy, and there has been more than one heated FB debate about this topic. A couple of friends have started to pull away a little bit, which is sad since our kids are close. I never would have thought that a decision about whether to send your child to school during a pandemic would cause you to lose friends.” — Anonymous
5. "You would have thought that I was planning to lock her in the basement for a year."
“I’m not planning to send my daughter back until there’s a vaccine. When I mentioned it in a comment on my private FB page, you would have thought that I was planning to lock her in the basement for a year. People came out of the woodwork and accused me of being crazy, extremist, anti-school, you name it. One now former friend even said that there’s no way my child would get a quality education if someone like me were teaching it. Which is ironic and absurd, since I’m a middle school tutor and former full-time in-school teacher.” — Elizabeth, New York
6. "It’s made our relationship stressful."
“My parents are not happy with our choice to send our kids back to school in the fall. I feel that they need the structure of school, no matter how strange it might be this year. And I need a break. But every conversation that I have with them always turns around to talk about them going back to school and what a big mistake I’ll be making. I get that these are their only grandkids, but I think I’m equipped to know what’s best for them. It’s caused some tension between us, and while I wouldn’t call it shaming, it’s made our relationship stressful.” — Jessica, Los Angeles, California
7. "We're being shamed into silence for our choice."
“I’ve avoided talking about our plans for back-to-school for this very reason. While my partner and I haven’t made an official decision, we’re leaning towards keeping our kids home. It’s crazy that we’re being shamed into silence for our choice, when all we’re really trying to do is make the best decision armed with the information that we currently have. There’s already so much stress, and to feel shamed for your choice on how to handle your child’s education is ridiculous.” — Anaya, Detroit, Michigan
8. "I know I'll be shredded to pieces."
“Sending your child to school or not has become like a political debate. There are no winners. It hurts because parents really need that sense of community, and I’ve seen first-hand those who have taken a stance to either send their kids or not be shamed and even bullied online. I’m embarrassed to admit that I want my kids to go back of course for educational reasons, but childcare is a big factor. But if I say that, I know I’ll be shredded to pieces, so I try to avoid the topic altogether.” — Kendall, Boulder, Colorado
9. "She went off on me about being gullible."
“Originally, I had planned to send my kids to school, but like most parents, I wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of how they were going to socially distance a bunch of elementary school kids. So I spoke to my child’s former teacher and asked her what she thought about sending the kids back. She said that even she’s afraid, so what are parents supposed to think? I mentioned this to my best friend, who is also planning to send her child in the fall, and she went off on me about being gullible and not acting in the best interest of my children. We’re not talking right now.” — Anonymous
10. "The teasing hasn't stopped."
“My wife and I decided at the beginning of the pandemic and homeschooling that we would not send our kids back in the fall. When she told coworkers about our decision, they seemed to agree with her. But then, they would bring it up during Zoom work calls, like, ‘Andrea is the one who wants to homeschool her kids like she’s living in an episode of Little House On The Prairie.’ She’s been so upset about it that she’s started looking for another job, since the teasing hasn’t stopped.” — Linda, Washington, D.C.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.