Tip #6 for Raising a Potential Thiel Fellow: Go Against the Grain

one bird facing three birds facing left - go against the grain lisa nalbone

Go against the grain and be thick-skinned.

Be ready to explain and defend yourself and your kid, diplomatically and repeatedly.

Be brave and confident when you need to do things that are different from the norm, but right for you and your child.

Relax. Let your child be different.

You are modeling courage, resisting peer pressure,  and strength in your convictions.

It might be hard. Tedious.  Frustrating.

So many folks, related or not, feel the need to challenge your child,  or your educational and parenting choices if they don’t match their expectations.  It’s kind of like unwanted pregnancy advice.

What can you do to make it easier?

Compassionate listening helps. So often the critical person is coming from a place of fear that THEY are somehow wrong. We have so much emotional investment in our kids and our choices.

Deflect with questions about their concerns and how they define success for their child.

Come up with a brief, positive response that highlights  and affirms your child and choices, without condemning others. A ready soundbite  lets you move on peacefully rather than arguing  with someone who really doesn’t want to discuss.


We had NO TV, by choice, until we inherited one when my dad passed away when Dale was 12.  Many people were defensive and offensive.  It was constant. But worth it!

We kept swimming upstream in education: when we pulled Dale out for travel, when we pulled him out to try a private school, when we pulled him out to homeschool. And then, gasp,  unschool.  Since I was a teacher, like Lucy, I had a LOT of ‘splainin’ to do.

I smiled, sometimes with gritted teeth, and said, “We are learning a lot and doing what is best for Dale. What is working for your child?”

Get started:

  • Identify the areas where you need to give your child or yourself permission to be different.
  • Breathe deeply. Listen. Learn more about your options. Try NVC.
  • Craft a statement and practice it. Have a suggestion for a resource ready if someone wants to engage.

Raising a Thiel Fellow Tip: Go against the Grain at www.lisanalbone.com

Good luck!  Have you had the experience of being different? Having to go against the grain to do what is  best for  you?  For your child?  I’d love to hear  about your experience or your feedback  in the comments.  Lisa

Please share if you know anyone who would enjoy this post. Thanks.

Link to the beginning of the series here.

7 thoughts on “Tip #6 for Raising a Potential Thiel Fellow: Go Against the Grain”

  1. Agree. Beautifully said, Dawn.

    I love both your responses that address the fears and insecurities that we all have. To recognize your fears and not knowing how it will all turn out but move ahead anyway – well we all need to learn to do that, and show our kids how they can do that too.

    I think taking responsibility for our choices is what scares people. No one else to blame. So, whether you are or are not afraid, if you can do your best and then figure it out if your best didn’t work -you’re golden.

  2. beautifully said, dawn!

    fear is an important element to this. every time we’ve stepped off the path, we’ve been asked, “but aren’t you afraid?” afraid that your business will fail .. afraid that your kids won’t get a good education .. and so on and so on.

    for most people, taking control over aspects of your own life (because that’s really what this is) is incredibly scary. there is safety in numbers, i suppose. it is tempting to reply to them, “aren’t *you* afraid?” but much kinder to say, “no, i’m not afraid — we’re just doing what feels best to us. if something goes wrong, we’ll figure it out.”

  3. i have come across this. a lot. what helps me to *go against the grain* is to look beyond the grain. find a different current to swim in. exchange my standard of comparison for something that is more reasonable and authentic to me. if i don’t like how i look to a certain group, i stop looking at the group. they’re probably not spending *that* much time looking at me, anyway.

    i also look for companionship with like-minded people. those of us who are not comfortable boldly striding forth into new, uncharted territory can seek out guides and compatriots who *get us.* i’m finding them all the time, and not just in my homeschooling community, but also online. in fact, among the people i feel most in alignment with regarding some aspects of parenting and nurturing my children and relationships are individuals i’ve never met in person.

    our ability to confidently communicate with others about our choices is tempered by our own fears, too. it’s more difficult to address pointed, even hostile, questions from others when they touch upon our carefully guarded insecurities. it can be incredibly freeing to admit, “no, i’m not absolutely positive that what we’re doing is the right thing, but it does feel like we are finding a way that is true to our values and meets our needs, at least for now.”

  4. Thanks, Lori. Agree, it does get easier with practice. I think you nailed it, ” as if we were saying “our decisions mean your decisions were ‘wrong'”. We had people who did not speak to us for a couple of years! Seems like we could solve so many problems if we get comfortable for allowing for more than one right way.

  5. great post, lisa. from my experience, going against the grain just gets easier and easier. ;o) starting a business .. keeping our kids with us instead of sending them to daycare .. starting a school .. homeschooling .. every time we made a decision that went against what our friends and neighbors did, they seemed to react defensively, as if we were saying “our decisions mean *your* decisions were *wrong*!” as if there’s just one right way to live. silly. we all have to find our right way. better to swim against the current to find it than find yourself drifting somewhere you don’t want to go.

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