Thursday, October 4, 2012

Homeschool Movement and Abuse? Introduction

The lawsuit from my former abusive church has come and gone and I have been doing some deep thinking - - trying to figure out what brought us to that particular church - - - what made that church appealing to us?   I had to acknowledge that this church, like other prior churches, was strongly pro-homeschooling.   In fact, if you didn't homeschool, you may not feel very comfortable there.  So, it made me go back further . . . . all the way back to the very beginning  - before we started homeschooling and were investigating.   What I have discovered is alarming:  patriarchal teachings that are often times abusive, parenting styles that are often abusive, and ideas completely outside of mainstream Christianity are going on in the homeschool movement.

My husband and I have been married 27 years and have 7 children from 25 yrs down to our 6-yr old "caboose".  We have always homeschooled.  We have always believed that this was the best choice for our family.  We have been to many churches due to my husband's military service and job changes.  Many people have influenced us in our homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and our Christian life journey and right now, I am angry.   I am angry about what I have discovered looking over our marriage, looking at our parenting styles over the years, looking at decisions we have made, looking at people who influenced us  - people we trusted to be godly, like-minded and who wanted the best for their children and families.

If you have not been connected with the homeschool movement and click on some of these links, you might say:  "Um, yea, you drank the Kool-Aid long ago."  If you've been in the homeschool movement, you will probably be nodding along and can reminisce with me.   I will take you on a wild journey going back through what I have experienced or seen in the past couple decades as a homeschooling mom.  Here is a sampling, and not in any order, of the kinds of influences, beliefs, philosophies, practices we dealt with or were familiar with among the homeschooling movement over the years: 

Why did we have so many children?  How do you know when your quiver is full?  Would we have had this many children if we hadn't listened to specific teachings?  Who invented the jumper dress?  Why did I sometimes feel guilty if I didn't wear my denim jumper?  I no longer own a denim jumper.  Who decided Gregg Harris or Michael Farris were the spokesmen for homeschoolers?  Why did so many homeschoolers flock to the articles and books of Mary Pride?

* * * TMI warning * * *Is it okay to refrain from sex to not get pregnant or is that saying "no" to God's blessings of children?  Did it really mean one isn't trusting God if taking measures to prevent pregnancy after cycles returned 6 weeks postpartum (and round-the-clock nursing)?  How many blessings of babies did I prevent by taking matters in my own hands?  Is God mad at me for my "interference" of "His plan"? * * * * end TMI warning * * * *  

What about all of those families who stop having babies after only 4 children or 2 children - - - are they disobeying God?  Why don't they want God's blessings?  Who is targeting the homeschooling community to convince them to pop out babies to overpopulate the world with Christians babies?  Why does this same dude bombard our mailboxes right before Christmas to encourage us to buy Christmas toys (gender specific boy toys for boy and girly girl toys for girls) when their family does not celebrate this "pagan" holiday? 

How did I get to the point where I believed that I may be treading dangerously if I was not a member of the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund?    Who would protect me if someone from school district came to my door and wanted to find out why my children weren't attending the evil government school down the block?  How many homeschool families printed out instructions on what to say to government officials  if "they" came unannounced to our door to interrogate?  How many of us had HSLDA phone numbers in a prominent place . . . . just in case?   Where did all of this fear come from?    

Why was I corrected when I said "public" school instead of their preferred "government" school?  Is there an agenda going on?  Who is feeding all of this?  Who decided that boys should be owning their own home businesses to support their families?  Who decided that all colleges were bad until Patrick Henry College was founded by popular homeschool leaders in the "movement" and then all of a sudden it became "okay" and even "good" to send our kids away to college?  

How did the homeschool movement influence my views as far as who I voted for or how involved I was in politics?  How did they convince me that I was eating improperly and I needed to grind my own wheat and make my own bread?  How did the homeschool community have the inside scoop before my traditional-schooled friends from church when it was going to become the end-of-life-as-we knew-it during the Y2K scare?  Who brought that hype to the homeschool community?  Would you like to ask me how many homeschoolers I personally know who are still going through their stockpiles of grains?  Seriously!!!!   Did Julie Anne actually buy Spam during the Y2K scare?

When did I get to the point where I looked down at my friends who were Christians and either sent their children to public or private schools when "they should" be teaching their own?  How did all of this happen?  Why do so many homeschoolers balk at immunizations?    Why are some homeschoolers so proud?  Homeschooled kids were the smartest because they always won the National Spelling Bees, right?    Who decided that homeschoolers should be involved with speech and debate?   Why are so many families going to their state capitals and involving themselves in politics - - because they were going to be the movers and shakers of world in the political arenas?  And why is my husband responsible for my faith and the faith of our children?   And why do we have to go through him on spiritual matters?  Does God not speak directly to homeschool kids and wives?  

Who told me about modesty and how I should be dressing and how my daughters should be dressing?  What does modesty have to do with homeschooling?  Why do all homeschool boys look alike with similar short haircuts?   Who convinced me that my children could never "date", but must only "court" and that my husband gets to choose our children's future spouses?  How did, "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" become such a popular book?  Who named the government as "evil" for wanting to know how our children are educated?  Why do homeschoolers assume the worst when they file their "notice to intent" with their local school district?  

Why do they assume that the school district secretary doesn't want to deal with homeschoolers and will instigate more trouble by wanting more information than required by law?  Who made up this purity ring ceremony - - - and that our teen daughters should wear their purity rings symbolizing their virginity until they replace it with their wedding ring?  Who started this thing where daughters shave their fathers beards?  Ewww.  Below you will see an invitation to a Father Daughter Tea from Vision Forum.  Fast forward to 1:37 to see daughters shaving their fathers.  Um, really??? 

Who decided that boys should have their homes paid for before they get married?   And why are organized sports so wrong?    When did Young Earth creation become a primary issue to be a Christian and that if you didn't believe it, you might not be Christian?   Why are scientists looked at as if suspect?  Psychology is of the devil.  What's with all of those pictures of large families with matching clothes on the covers of homeschooling magazines?  Are my children supposed to be wearing matching clothes?  Who decided that was the right way to dress kids?  Who decided that women should only wear dresses?  

And what about those who show up at conventions with head coverings - - -are we bad women if we don't have them?   Who decided that family-integrated churches were better than traditional churches for our family?  Why is it that homeschoolers brag about their children being able to interact and socialize well, yet you can "pick them out" a mile away because they look and act so "different"?   Who has been instigating the us-vs-them mentality regarding so many of these topics?  Who decided that the only job that we should be teaching our daughters is to be "keepers of the home" and serving their fathers and then serving their future husbands?

Who decided a 1/4-inch plumber's line was an appropriate tool for spanking?  Who taught us that if we had to repeat a command twice to our children, our children were being disobedient:  First-Time Obedience.   How did we let this group convince us that all infants should be able to go 4 hours between feedings.  What single man decided that fathers were an umbrella of authority over the family below God?  What same man also encouraged men and women to get vasectomies and tubal ligations reversed to allow God to control the size of their families and then paraded post-reversal children in front of the auditorium at conventions?  

This is quite a diversion from spiritual abuse in the church, but I need to go there.  I now believe the homeschooling movement made our spiritually abusive church seem appealing to us.  Some of the above is just plain quirky, but other issues go much deeper affecting core spiritual beliefs and agendas.

My daughter, Hannah, is 25 yrs old and she was only homeschooled.   The first traditional school she attended was community college and last spring she became a college graduate.  Her peers were from an early generation of the growing homeschool movement.   More and more blogs are being published by young adults like my daughter who are "coming out" and sharing their homeschool experiences.  The stories are not pretty.    My daughter has shared some of her story.  And you can read the story I wrote about Hannah's experience here.  In that story, you can get an idea of the controlling environment in which she lived and how she had to escape - it remains one of the most popular blog posts.  What she experienced at home has probably gone on in many homes.  I bear much responsibility for it.  I went along with it.  I have apologized to my daughter many times for it.   The abusive church we found also aligned with these philosophies of heavy-handed control of children, even adult children.  Hannah was 21 when she moved out.  She was not a child, yet we thought we owned her.  

I assumed (yeah, I know about that word), that when we got into homeschooling that it was a safe community - a community where children's best interest was at heart.  We wanted to have the primary influence in the education of our children.  That's good, right?  Well . . . . I have discovered that there is an underlying agenda in the homeschooling community that has been there all along - even years before I started - and it continues to this day.  I believe that some of this underlying current  - taken to an extreme - could be responsible for breaking up families, causing abuse, wreaking havoc on people's spiritual life.  

I firmly believe that God used the lawsuit in a powerful way to highlight the issue of spiritual abuse in the church.  He was there during the entire time providing amazing support for me.  My life is rich having gone through it.  But now I'm wondering if God is using another experience of my life to share here.   

While I have spent countless hours writing blog posts about spiritual abuse in the church, I think there is a setup for spiritual abuse that originates in the homeschool movement.   In our abusive church, we felt a "kindred spirit" (and all the homeschool moms just laughed at me with that phrase) in the church because of with like-minded teachings and beliefs.   Some of these ideas need to be explored further.

I have an upcoming post to share from a young lady who was raised in a homeschooling/patriarchal family.    I think it's important to hear from these young adults who have lived it and are now trying to put the pieces together of their childhood together as they begin their families.  I would like to share more stories from those who have experienced the homeschool movement and the impact this movement has had on their life emotionally and spiritually.   If you have a story to share or know someone who might want to share, please e-mail me:

photo credit: freezelight via photopin cc


  1. Much of what you describe does sound like abuse. Of course, that's a judgment that's probably too easy for me to make as an outsider. What do you think attracted you to the homeschool movement in the first place? I sense that in some it's a desire to control how their children turn out (something we participate in but can never control). "Raise up a child ..." is read as "if you do it right your children will turn out to be perfect Christians". I don't want to be unfair. That's my guess as an outsider.

    1. Craig - There were numerous reasons to homeschool. You already know how tall we are - we were very skinny, too, and were teased mercilessly. Being in the military, we knew we would move a lot and it made sense to have some consistency with homeschooling rather than change so many schools. We also wanted more oversight into curriculum choices and the ability to go at our child's pace (some of our kids have been years ahead in math, average in other subjects and schools have difficulty allowing for self-pace). And of course, we wanted to "raise up a child" . It just seemed like a good fit for our family and I think we had the right intentions.

    2. So, if I understand you, your decision to homeschool came before your exposure to the movement. That makes sense. Kelly and I thought about homeschooling. We decided against it for us, but have always admired those parents that took on such a challenge. Had we decided to homeschool I can see how we would have looked for help.

      I have no difficulty believing your intentions were good. I also think you do (and did) an excellent work. What seems abusive to me is not homeschooling itself, but the things you point out through your questions that are "out there" and ingrained in the movement.

    3. Yes, that is correct, Craig.

      When we started homeschooling, there was no internet, so the movement was coming through books and magazines (which I subscribed to) and conferences. After we had internet availability, we started making more connections with the "movement". It was especially prevalent at homeschooling conventions, on message boards, e-mail groups. If you only bought curriculum, but did not connect with others in the movement, you would be just fine.

  2. Hey Julie Anne! I'm hooked, definitely am interested in reading your thoughts on these issues in the comings weeks, or however long you take to work through them. I'm also interested in seeing some of the blogs you've mentioned (by home-schooled kids). I'm definitely coming at this as an outsider (we've always been in public schools), but having lived in an abusive "Christian" community for 12 years, I can identify with the move toward conformity in parenting, even if the behaviors and practices don't feel right to the parents. You brought some insights into the discussion that I never would have thought of (ie, "...what's with all these large families with matching clothes..."). Thanks!

    1. Steve and I both came from dysfunctional family backgrounds and we wanted to parent the right way. It made sense for us to want to go to "experts" so that we wouldn't make mistakes. Looking back, what fools we were to look at Mike Pearl and others for expertise. At the time, Mike's kids were just getting into adulthood and marriages. That's not a proven track record, is it? We also went to parenting classes at our churches along the way - - those were generally pretty good. It was the parenting stuff presented in the homeschooling conventions and movement that led us astray. Confession: I did sew my daughters matching dresses one time. Oh, they were cute. But let me tell you, the whole family did not match! You have to draw the line somewhere! :)

    2. PS I meant to say Hi Ken!!! Blogger doesn't let me edit. I had a hunch you might be interested in this crazy post.

    3. Oh, Ken, you mentioned homeschooled kids and it reminded me that I also referred to "kids" in my article. I should NOT have said that. Kids is a derogatory word that never should be used in some homeschooling circles. It's okay to say "children" or "blessings", but not kids. Bad me! Someone actually lectured me about that one, too.

  3. I have been watching this blog from the start. You know what theme I see underlying in all the abuse posts? People who took their eyes off the Lord (for various reasons) and looked to men/women for their answers instead. Organized religion, homeschooling, etc., are not gateways to abuse. Taking ones' eyes off the Lord is the gateway to abuse. What I personally would love to see at some point, is instead of the many folks (not just here, but many places) waving red flags, making lists of how to identify a "bad this" or "bad that" or abusiveness, etc., (having ahard time finding the right words)is to have someone come up with a list of what's good that we SHOULD be looking for, devotions to help us sharpen our daily living and draw closer to the Lord. The closer we are to Him, the less we will need all the copious examples and lists of abuses. PErhaps then we will be able to sorrow and pray over all the men and women that Satan is tearing to shreds, instead of holding them all up as public examples of what not to do, what not to be. The reality is, but for the grace of God go all of us. And no, I'm not taking the abusers side. I have lived a life growing up being abused, growing up seeing churches fall, seeing men/women who seem to love and serve God be devoured by Satan. We need to reach out to those individuals with pity and in love (as is SAFE, of course, otherwise just pray for them) as many of them are on their way to an eternal hell. Only in seeking the Lord and His ways and His goodness can healing be achieved (often this is with the help of a good Biblical counselor) but just talking talking talking, find example after example after example, does not heal. It only serves to fester, it gives the Devil an in-road, an opportunity to accuse and revile, to turn the people of God on one another and kill many with "friendly fire". This is not just my opinion, it is supported by Scripture. I do not have time to have an ongoing coversation about this subject, I just needed to say my piece after silently observing for quite some time. So, disagree if you like, that is your choice. I just encourage all to quit spending so much time digging up bones, and instead look to the Lamb of God - He alone is able to save and perfectly heal. If you look to Him, He will reveal whether you are in an abusive situation, and He will empower you to leave! I've been there, and have see the power of God give me emotional and physical strength beyond comprehension. Look to God alone!

    1. Hi Watcher - thanks for your comment. I really appreciate your perspective. No doubt about it - discussing abuse is not a pleasant topic. Here's where I'm coming from. When I was abused as a child, I thought it was normal. And then I came to the realization that I was getting abused, but my siblings were not (my dad's biological children). In junior high, we watched a movie about child abuse in our health class and I did a report on the topic. It was at that point that I fully understood what was going on in my home. So, in other words, I needed to read stories of abuse to understand what I was experiencing was abuse. I needed to read blog to understand what I had experienced was spiritual abuse. That is where I made the connection. It is because of this, that I will continue to share personal stories. People connect with personal stories and sometimes it just clicks that way when other ways it might not register.

      The people in my former church think having Mark and Avoid lists and shunning in church is normal. They won't understand that it's not normal or not Biblical until they find out for themselves.

      I also love your idea of finding a list of what's good and what we should be looking for spiritual growth. We have certainly done that here (
      and have discussed it as well. I'd love to have more ideas if you have some to share.

    2. I would suggest that abusers never had their eyes on the Lord in the first place.

    3. Buff, The devil prowls about seeking whom he may devour. In context that verse is talking about people who love the Lord and are doing that work, and satan is waiting for them to show a momentary weakness when he can take them down. Obviously, many abusers never knew the Lord. that's a given in a sinful world. But many do know the the Lord. it's a mixed bag.

      Also, homeschooling is not a movement. Homeschooling is an educational choice. There are movements amongst homeschoolers. Please be careful to not paint homeschooling as a cultish movement, which I believe this article does. I was homeschooled - not until after the abuses stopped and there was repentance, BTW, so don't try to add that into the equation. My parents never bought into a single one of those issues you listed, because they put their focus back on the Lord.

      Julie Anne, I was the only child in my home to recieve abuse also. I attended BGBC longer than you. I know that those folks there own Bibles. If they truly wanted their eyes opened, they have all they need. I know many have left, because they bothered to open their eyes. The families that are still there are either new, and they will choose to open their eyes or continue to believe a lie, or they are families that have been there a long, long time and have chosen to believe many, many winds of doctrine. Pointing out that this, that and the other thing are abuse is not helpful. Pointing out this is what the Scripture says about this, that, and the other, would be. Your foundation has to come from scripture (which I assume it does, but it is often not stated that way!) otherwise it is a void argument. THe same with listing what a good church consists of. I saw a lot of opinions, very little scripture.

      As for Creationism. If one cannot believe a literal account of creation as stated in the Bible (a translation, not a transliteration) then one cannot believe that the rest of the Bible is accurate or true. It is possible and probable that a person who rejects creationism does not have a proper understanding or knowledge of God, and may make it difficult or impossible for them to become saved. Obviously, never say never, but it is a huge issue that must be addressed. Not just for the sake of arguing creation, but for the sake of saving souls.

      I would just love to see you uplift, rather than constantly be dragging out stories of abuse. Focus on God being good all the time more than you focus on man being bad so much of the time. I think it would go a long way towards your healing and that of others.

      This is my final note on this subject, and probably on this blog - as I have several children that I have to go finish homeschooling and "indoctrinating."

    4. You are absolutely right that there is a difference between "homeschooling" and the homeschooling movement". I've alluded to that in some of my comments. I have two children on the floor (their preferred choice) next to me doing their math as I am typing this. If I thought all of "homeschooling" equaled the "homeschooling movement", I wouldn't have anything to do with homeschooling. I choose to educate my children at home (at least part-time) and I choose not to be influenced by some of the influences I discussed above.

      I do think scripture is very helpful; however, it was NOT scripture that enlightened me about the abuse. It was reading the stories of others who had gone through similar abuse. God uses people to do His work, too, and I am thankful for godly people who were brave enough to share their painful stories which somehow connected with me and opened my eyes when I was unable to see/hear clearly before.

      We'll have to agree to disagree on the Creation topic as a salvation issue. The Bible does not say that if we believe in young earth creation we will be saved; it says if we believe in Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved (Acts 16:31). I think debating about these issues becomes a real distraction to the primary issues of salvation. Where do you draw the line? We have people saying that Arminians are not saved, but Calvinists are. What if you are a 4 pt Calvinist? Do they get to go to heaven? How about 3.5? Where do you draw the line? And furthermore, why are PEOPLE drawing the line? Isn't that God's job? It seems to me we miss so much of the Gospel message when we argue solely secondary issues. I think you get my point.

      As your primary concern was that the focus of this blog is on the wrong place, I was hoping that you would be able to offer something positive for us all to read. I'm disappointed that you didn't take me up on that request. I do pay attention to what my readers say. I think the overwhelming response in my comments and e-mails is that I am giving hope to those whose voices were ignored. That really is the goal as I see it - to acknowledge abuse, to give a platform for those abused voices to be heard, and also provide hope and encouragement for healing. If I haven't provided enough hope/healing emphasis, I'll work on that. Thanks for the suggestion.

    5. Julie Anne -

      You are right. It was, in my experience, essential that I read other people's stories in order to recognize my own situation. There is great strength in knowing you are not the only one who has experienced something. There is great relief (mixed with sadness and pain - but clean, healing pain) in recognizing that you have been abused. I have to say that if it had not been for blogs about abuse, I would never have recognized my mother's behaviors for what they were and would never have found the strength to walk away from her abuse.

    6. So true, Jeannette. Sometimes the idea of "being alone" can be emotionally paralyzing. Connecting with others who have walked our paths is so helpful.

    7. I would suggest, watcher, that to only show the good things to look FOR in a church would not help in this situation. The best liars are the ones who include a large percentage of truth in their lies. That is what makes them believable and many of us are well-schooled Biblically and could pick out an OBVIOUS wolf easily, its the NOT so obvious ones that are the problem. and thankfully for us, they tend to have traits that are similar.

      I would further argue that its LIKELY that keeping our eyes on the Lord is what got us into our abusive churches- as most of them are very conservative and most likely are much different than the milquetoast watered down Christianity that flourishes in our society. It is, i'm convinced ALSO our eyes being on the Lord that helped us get OUT of those churches, and for whatever reason, God intended for each of us to have to go through this journey. Perhaps to be a blessing to each other. But if you are disapproving of our speaking out, please know that just about everyone we know in real life ALREADY is condemning us and praying for OUR sin in speaking out against a wolf, so please know that we are well chastised here.

    8. I am reposting Pastor Ken Garrett's wise words here in response to Watcher's words below:

      Watcher: Only in seeking the Lord and His ways and His goodness can healing be achieved (often this is with the help of a good Biblical counselor) but just talking talking talking, find example after example after example, does not heal. It only serves to fester, it gives the Devil an in-road, an opportunity to accuse and revile, to turn the people of God on one another and kill many with "friendly fire". This is not just my opinion, it is supported by Scripture.

      Ken's words on the subject: 3. Finally, even though I worked hard not to show it, when a person who had left an abusive group openly, freely talked of their experience, warts and all, without rancor, resentment, or vengeance--it was very powerful.

      If they spoke in a way that communicated respect and empathy (and perhaps even love with pity) for those still in the group--so much the better. That's why it is so helpful for a person to be able to enter a forum anonymously and read (perhaps even interact) with others who understand the dynamics of an abusive church, and the abusive pastor. Calls to curb anonymity, to "just move on," or to repress the experience, or to cover it over with greater spiritualization and religious talk do nothing but create more inner tension and mental/spiritual anguish. Those attempts to repress always fail, always create more victims, and always dig people into their broken churches even deeper—having made the decision to be less than honest. Critics that claim those who write and respond to abuse survivor blogs should not do so, or are somehow acting in an unhealthy or unbiblical way are simply betraying their ignorance to the issue, or at least are demonstrating a lack of genuine experience with the issue.

    9. Oops - I forgot to italicize the 2nd paragraph above. Both paragraphs are from Pastor Ken Garrett. ~ja

  4. I look forward to reading more on this (as you might guess.) Do know that there are plenty of us that are coming to the homeschooling without it being a "movement" but from the opposite end of the spectrum. I have met the type of homeschooler you describe as well as Wiccans, and both are equally passionate about why they do what they do.
    Then there's me. ;-) Not all homeschoolers think that public schools are evil government mind-control machines interested in foisting their own devil's agenda. (I say this with love)

    1. So true, Brianne - there is a wide spectrum among homeschoolers from unschoolers to Classically-educated, from fundy Christian to Wiccans. To *get* what I'm taking about, you simply must go to the state Christian homeschool convention. Your first clue that you are at the right place is the parking lot full of mini-vans and full-size passenger vans. Maybe we can go together and I'll definitely need to bring a barf bag at this point because I'm so worked up over this topic. Hmm, maybe you don't want to go now. . . . I wouldn't be good company. :)

      (Readers - FTR - Brianne and I go back a ways if you're sensing some familiarity here )

      I hope to hear more from you, friend!

    2. I went to bed last night thinking that my "barf bag" comment might have been too crude of a comment and came back this morning to re-read it and see if I should delete it. I just cannot remove it. The truth of the matter is I think I might get physically sick if I went to one of those conventions steeped with Patriarchy, Quiverfull, matchy clothes, etc, knowing the ramifications of some of these legalistic lifestyles. Last count, I started SIX posts on this topic - - it just got me worked up thinking about it and I could not settle on the "right" one. That never happens with me - normally, I get the urge - I write and hit "publish". Yea, I'll keep the comment here. Keepin' it real here. ~ja

    3. Agreed. Patriarchy and all its cutesy trappings is just plain grievous. Therefore, go prepared: pack appropriate barf bag--as needed.

    4. Well, okay then, Barb! Will do! :) You're right, it is grievous.

  5. Oh, boy! You better watch yourself! First you were shunned by "that church" now you're pitting yourself up against the extreme conservative homeschooling community! (You know I'm kidding.)

    When I decided to homeschool, I went to OCEANetwork's convention to hear a beginner's talk (mostly to learn about the laws) and to get an upclose view of curriculum. 9 years later I went to another conference, but this time I worked a booth for the local teacher's store. My manager and I had our eyes open to the homeschool community that attended the convention and with the newer curriculum out there. She was amazed at how conservative all of the material was and at how similar many of the attendees looked.

    That being said, I never really had a good feeling about OCEANetwork. I don't fault them for working hard to keep homeschool freedoms in Oregon alive (we have one of the best states to homeschool in when it comes to regulation), however, I never really bought into their ultra conservative side. For instance, we had someone come and gave a speech on homeschooling high schoolers to our homeschool group. We were told that once we homeschool high schooler, there's no going back. Not true as my daughter has started 10th grade at our high school this year. We were also told that we should avoid having our high schoolers take classes at the community college. One never knows what they'll be taught by liberal (evil) community college professors!

    I was fortunate enough to start out with a group of homeschoolers who were all very different in their views of homeschooling and in the curriculum they used. Even though our group was sponsored by a church, we welcomed anyone in the group. This, I think, saved me from the extremist side of homeschooling, which is why I am unfamiliar with many names and faces of Christian homeschool advocates.

    1. Kathi - - - I know, I'm baaaaaaaad. I'm experienced at being shunned - bring it on. I've been tempted to link to this post on my Facebook wall and watch how many long-time homeschooling friends unfriend me :)

      For some reason, and I'm not exactly why - 10+ yrs we lived in Oregon after moving from the East coast, I never went to a homeschool convention. I did, however, go to a few conferences. One was the Maxwells ( But . . . I was still reading stuff on the internet and being influenced by friends/connections.

      I like the sound of your homeschooling group - that sounds great. We were part of a co-op at a local church for quite a while. It was great - the moms all taught their favorite subjects and the kids really benefited from their enthusiasm.

      I still think that homeschooling is a great option, but recommend exercising caution when choosing curricula (yes, there is curricula with an agenda, too) and pay attention to those claiming to be homeschooling experts. What is their agenda? Many times it's much more than education, sadly.

      I have two high schoolers and one junior high student who are taking part-time classes in the "government" school system. ::::gasp:::: We have not experienced any of the doom and gloom stories that we have heard about. BTW, I read your blog not too long ago and I used to be "choir mom" and accompanist at your daughter's high school. I loved the teachers and staff I connected with there.

    2. We used Apologia's science curriculum. I know the bias and slant they lead toward, but I encouraged my kids to ask questions and talk about some of the conservative view points. *GASP* I encouraged my kids to think for themselves! That's what those liberal university types will do to taint our kids! I'm just starting much earlier.

      This was very apparent in their young explorer's book on Astronomy, which my son and I read last year. I got so tired of reading the "facts" about their young earth view and the "so-called facts" about old earth view. I honestly don't even understand why it's such an issue that they must die on their hill for. If we believe that God created the earth, than why should it matter how long that took?

      We did have a good homeschool group going for us. I co-led the group with a friend and we had to stop after 8 years because we were too burnt out, no one else was stepping up to lead, and we thought the church was going to sell its building. The church is still there, but the group has moved on.

      I tried one year at another homeschool co-op, but it just wasn't a good fit for me. By this point we were out of church and it was just too mushy-gooshy churchy for me. Plus, my daughter didn't like it at all.

      By the way, she's doing great in high school. We have new school issues now. Such as us needing to go buy her a compass at 7:30 last night for her geometry assignment that was due today. Add to that, her geometry teacher was a sub and didn't even teach on what she was required to do for her homework (because she's not a math teacher). And, the geometry book is useless in looking at how to do the problems.

      I did not have one of my finest parenting moments last night as I stressed (very loudly) the fact that she needs to get her work together ahead of time so her emergencies don't become ours.

    3. I know -I hear you on the creation issue. Sure, let's understand it, but let's not make enemies over it. It is a secondary issue, not one to make enemies over.

      My school issues now that I've never dealt with before: school clothes (no more living in sweats all day - lol), what to take for lunch, and yes - those deadline items like a compass, white shirt for choir, and wow there are so many forms to sign - - - they are never ending. I love the fact that the school enforces deadlines far better than me and there are consequences for failed deadlines. Whoa! Imagine that.

    4. While I've moved away from Apologia this year, my son does use Bob Jones' math book for 6th grade. I switched to this because the layout of the book worked much better for my son. Occasionally we'll run into a problem such as this:

      "Calvary Baptist Church donated cases of orange juice to a relief shelter after a hurricane. There are 32 ounces of juice in each carton. How many 6-ounce servings can be poured from one carton?"

    5. Literally laughing out loud! :)

    6. Here's another good one:

      "The church paid the camp $5,229.00 for the upcoming church retreat. The family price is $275.00, and the individual price is $92.00. How many families and individuals are going to the retreat?"

      I can't make this stuff up.

    7. My answer would be "too many!"

  6. Found you today through a link from Wartburg Watch. I was curious because we lived in Beaverton years ago. I am raising and homeschooling one grandchild. We tend to avoid the really religious curriculum and are using Old Earth Creation's geology program for our science and secular programs for everything else right now.

    It seems that sometimes you are being hard on yourself. If that is the case, hope that as God heals you from the spiritial abuse that you will go easier on yourself. Looking forward to reading more.

    1. Hi Linda: Welcome to the blog. Small world - living in Beaverton. I'm a fairly regular reader of Wartburg Watch. Dee and Deb have been wonderful to me through my lawsuit process. I really appreciate my East Coast blogger friends.

      Thank you for your kind words :) ~Julie Anne

  7. Hi Julie Anne!

    I read your list of "homeschoolisms" with a mix of nostalgia and bewilderment. Some of those things we bought into, but when many of them were touted as essential to good parenting we just listened politely and responded, "That's interesting." (That was our code phrase when we heard something we held to be totally absurd.)

    Our local support group was comprised of people from different churches who had many diverse ideas on what was necessary to homeschool. We had our share of people who were reactionary to the point of wacky, but they were a minority. The position of the group leaders was essentially that each set of parents would determine the course of their own childrens' upringing and education. No one dictated curriculum, teaching style, or how long one homeschooled. Some would do so only through elementary grades, others went clear through high school.

    The bottom line for us as parents was what, before God, is the best thing for our children. In our case, all three daughters were home-schooled through high school, but their senior year was a transition time into junior college. Our son went to a public high school because that was the best thing for him.

    We were far from perfect as homeschool parents. Who among us was? Looking back, yes there are some things we did that in hindsight seem really dumb. We fought on a few hills not worth fighting for. It's too bad that I didn't know then what I know now, but that's just life. The one thing though that I'm glad we determined to do was to teach all of our children to think for themselves, to emulate the Bereans. No mindless Kool-aid drinking allowed.

    Julie Anne, please don't beat yourself up when you reflect on the homeschooling period of your life and find things you wish you hadn't done. That's non-productive. I think the best thing we can do is to share with other families who are or are considering homeschooling, and encourage them to discern the difference between living water and Kool-aid.

    Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Thank you, Lee!

      I dont' want to leave the impression that I"m beating myself up. I'm really not. Some of the above we did not participate in, some we did. This was over a 20-yr period. Some influences came and went. I just stuck everything I could think of in this one post to show what has gone on in the movement and the traps that people can get themselves in.

      You are exactly right - I wrote it for the purpose of exposing it and to remind people to think for themselves, use guidance from the Holy Spirit and scripture, not man, for answers. This is the trap we got into in our abusive church as well - we were enamored by a man.

  8. How does the grooming begin so when 'church' abuse takes over with seemingly sound Christians...think we are seeing it with this article. FEAR~
    I attended this church for over 16 years, didn't homeschool, worked outside the home and pretty sure was considered a 'project' now. I came to this church without a clear understanding of being a true Christian~bought by Christ's blood, before the world began I was known by Him. How did I come to know Christ as my Lord and Savior? By His Word. Plain and simple, yet so beyond understanding. I am pretty sure I and my family were considered 'rebels' while we were there, and four years after leaving got sued for speaking my truth. I am grateful for this blog that I can look back in hindsight and see where I began giving my freedom in Christ up for the 'approval' of man. Also thankful that the Holy Spirit gave/gives me eyes to see past the physical and see what is His leading in my life. I am grateful I was able to speak the truth, that others may be set free from a 'works' salvation. Taking the 'gospel' out to the neighborhood on Fridays doesn't mean I am saved, yet this was an imposed expectation placed upon the church while I attended. I am not the judge, Christ is. He sets those free whom He has called, not jaded men who have an agenda.
    Thank you for this forum in which to speak our truths, you are truly a blessed woman.
    Love you and continue to pray eyes will be opened and sheep will be lead to freedom.

    1. Hey Meaghan- - - I've been trying to imagine how your family might have felt - yes, you were pretty rebellious since you didn't teach your children at home. I think they "needed" you for other reasons and "overlooked" your grievous sins. :)

      The Friday night evangelism nights- - - oh boy, don't get me goin'.

      love you, sweet lady! Lunch date when I come to PDX next time, K?

    2. Meaghan - I totally get that "project" thought. We once had our kids go to taekwondo place that was owned by an ultra conservative, homeschooling, family life house church couple. My husband and I thought that they must have considered most of their clients as "projects."

  9. Hmmmm....I was already aware that some fundamentalist groups were going to some of these extremes. But the anti-government tone also echoes things I've heard from a couple of former friends, men who were very much anti-government politically. They, too, talked about refusing vaccinations (ie, swine flu) if the government were to require it (which it did not). It all seems intertwined.

    But it's not just politics. One of them, I thought he was a stable, grounded man of God, a convert to Orthodoxy who led me to Orthodoxy as well. But a lot of what I'm reading in this blog post, I heard from him. Such as, he contemplated homeschooling the kids because of some rumors about changes in sex education. And this is a guy with four children whom he could barely control.

    He said that children must obey the first time they're commanded to do something, and boasted that his did so (a boast which was proven false over and over again).

    I know what you mean about listening to someone you think knows how to raise kids, and is godly, only to find that they are not what you thought they were. I listened to him on spanking; he told me I should do it three times, and *hard* so my child would feel pain. It did not work, by the way. My child is better behaved now than he was back when we were spanking.

    And this guy I got childrearing advice from--Over time, I began to realize he wasn't such an expert. He started telling me that we should scream at our kid or he'd be spoiled and not respect women. He'd complain that the kids would not clean when he told them to. He talked as if praising a child was "spoiling" her.

    I also saw how his wife treated the children. One day he'd tell me she was abusing the kids (such as, by screaming at them) or abusing him. But when I saw it for myself another day, he would tell me she was not being abusive and they were fine.

    One day, I discovered that he had choked one of his children until she passed out. She told the police, and he was convicted last year. What caused such fury? She "wasn't listening or cleaning up." So much for his kids obeying the first time they were told....And all the childrearing advice he ever gave me, I've tossed out the window, and feel angry with myself for ever listening to or trusting him. I'd rather watch Supernanny.

    1. What you describe sounds like chaos. I've heard of the "first time obedience". I think that came from Growing Kids God's Way teaching.

      I know of a homeschool family who wrote letters to their government officials renouncing their citizenship. They don't pay taxes either. I don't quite know how they can do all this stuff, but there sure are fringe groups out there.


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