You don't have to. I just learned that lesson. You don't have to defend your parenting choices. You don't even need to explain yourself. You don't need to convince anyone to agree with you.
We were visiting some family over the weekend and the topic of my 3 year old and preschool came up. I was sharing my excitement about Evan learning to write his name. This particular family member did not know that I had removed Evan from preschool earlier this year. She made a comment that it's good that Evan is learning in school. I informed her that he was not in school and I told her the whole back story, my change of heart and mind, citing examples and research and finally, my reasoning for removing him. She spoke over me, laughed at my reasons and made comments that cut me down and pushed me into defensive mode.
I continued to cite examples and the behavioral changes as well as my understanding that I cannot protect him forever. I felt the fire burning hard in my chest. I quieted down, stepped back and realized that I was trying to convince her, to change her beliefs, to get her to agree with me.
She doesn't live my life. She doesn't see the consequences and changes and up and downs. I do. My husband does. We make the choices. We live with the outcomes. We travel the path we make for ourselves.
As the clouds in my mind parted, I took a breath and smiled. I don't need anyone's approval. I don't need to explain or defend my parenting choices.
This realization is monumental. We all do what we feel is best for our family. We make choices based off of the things we hold to be important. Everyone's list of things that are important is different. And the same goes for the path we choose to get there.