Home School Marriages: Shadowspring’s Story, Part Two

Home School Marriages: Shadowspring’s Story, Part Two

Shadowspring’s story was originally published on her blog Love. Liberty. Learning. She describes herself on her blog as, “a home school mom near the end of my career home schooling and looking forward to what life has to offer next. I am a follower of Jesus and a lover of freedom, as it is for freedom that Christ has set me free (Gal 5:1).” This story is reprinted with her permission.

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In this series: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

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I am so unhappy with the choice of home schooling magazines available.

I know, I know, why don’t I publish my own if I’m so unhappy, right? Well, how about I have no extra money, no extra time and no publishing experience. That’s a start anyway. I’m sure I could come up with more reasons if I tried.

My biggest beef with the home schooling magazines I know of out there is that they are not honest. Practical Homeschooling is not about home schooling, it’s about legalistic Christian homeschooling. Why not be honest in the title? How about Practically All Religious Extremism Home Schooling? Yes, it is a little wordy, but at least people would know before they picked it up what they were getting into.

I just tried a new one, titled Home School Enrichment. Not. It is also written by and for legalistic Christian home schoolers. Yawn. That is hardly what I would call home school enrichment, though there is an excellent article on study skills by Ruth Beechick and a few other informative articles on obscure subjects that could be interesting. I think one is on the history of the metal can as a food storage method.

However I will applaud the magazine for this: They did touch on one taboo subject in the legalistic Christian home schooling community that really needs exposing. In my opinion the article wasn’t all it could have been, since they chose to only explore two women’s individual experiences and opinions about the what and why of their problem rather than the endemic proportions of the problem. The problem: crappy marriages, and in the Christian home school community there are a lot of them to go around.

I’ve been home schooling for 13 years now, and I have seen a lot of divorces and even more unhappy marriages. Unhappy marriages of course mean miserable home lives for the kids who are in that home 24/7 as well. The levels of hypocrisy on this subject are astounding!

Women who are exhausted, depressed, unloved and at the end of their ropes will insist they are happy and their lives are working well, even though one look and a few minutes conversation clearly exposes their misery. Why? Why do they insist they are happy when it is obvious they are not?

I believe it’s because that’s what the home school magazines say “godly Christian marriage” should be like. The magazines insist that it is normal to be overworked, under appreciated and tired all the time. The Christian home school magazines claim it is holy for a woman to suck it up with a “gentle and quiet spirit.” The fact that they feel no real joy in their lives is seen as a temporary trial to be endured rather than as proof that their lifestyle is not bearing the fruit the magazine prophets promised.

Of course that is a recipe for crazy. Some women will eventually admit this is not working and decide to just chuck it all. For the wisest this means they get rid of oppressive religion and ditch the rigid gender role division and militant fecundity that is destroying them. For others it means ditching home schooling as well, and if they know of no other way to home school then they should ditch it. The children will be better off escaping from that unhappy home for a few hours a day.

Sadly in my point of view, for a few it means ditching Jesus as well. Honestly, since they truly believed all this legalistic home school mumbo-jumbo was “authentic Christianity,” who can blame them? Tragic.

For those who don’t come to their senses, there is only crazy left. The women who refuse to acknowledge the misery in which legalistic religion and strict gender roles in marriage have trapped them will just continue to live in denial. These women will have their unhappiness manifest in other ways: immune systems that buckle under the strain, minds that can’t handle the daily stresses of life. It is also tragic, heart-wrenching and the logical end of living a lie.

Why do these magazines even exist? I submit that if this legalistic home school family paradigm actually worked, they wouldn’t need to keep selling it in the magazines. Neighbors, friends and relatives would be knocking down their doors to find out the secret to these happy, healthy families. True love would result in fullness of joy like Jesus said, and joy is attractive. Joy gives us strength.

The magazines sell because guilt-ridden and unhappy women think the problem is with them, not the whole silly paradigm. The see the happy smiling innocent faces on the magazine cover and then look at their own bored and unhappy children, hair uncombed and house a mess because the baby was up all night and Dad doesn’t help out with “woman’s work”. Instead of rightfully saying to themselves “Those magazine articles are full of crap!” they think something is wrong with them as women. Or worse, they come to believe something is wrong with their precious children.

No, no, no, dear sister. You are just fine. Your children are wonderful. The magazines are a scam. Don’t let them suck you in!

Maybe someday someone will come up with a home school magazine that is about actual home education, rather than this wacko religious subset of home education. I would subscribe to that magazine.

To be continued.

8 thoughts on “Home School Marriages: Shadowspring’s Story, Part Two

  1. Lisa McLean April 12, 2013 / 1:14 pm

    It’s so good that you’re being delivered from harmful thought patterns, and I’m so sorry you’ve had it rough. I’m 52, and I am still being delivered from those thought patterns, as a homeschooling mom. I have been mistaken. My youngest are 17 and currently in a private school, which was a good choice for this year, but maybe not for next year. I look back at our more conservative days and I have to tell you, I was not wicked. I was doing what I thought best and couldn’t have made another choice because it’s just where I was on my journey. You may look back on some of your words here, as I have looked back on my words of my twenties and thirties, and you may need to offer an apology, for these words sound as ungracious as you say the conservative people are. You don’t mean it. You want to help, I know. But your language is not helpful. Be compassionate, longsuffering, forgiving. People are doing the best they can. Just don’t want you to have the regrets I have for things I did when I was young. 🙂

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    • Fern April 14, 2013 / 10:37 pm

      I don’t know your heart, but I know my parents have said similar things and yet they are wicked. They treated their children similarly to Mary’s description in her post but with less sleep deprivation, and, as time passed, more fear about other people finding out and so more restraint and care to no longer leave marks on our bodies. We also usually didn’t go more than 3 days without food. They taught parenting classes, ran the local homeschool support group, and influenced other people to join in. I can understand cognitively that my parents didn’t process their pasts and therefore passed them on to their children. However, as a parent, I know that is still no excuse. I can at times have compassion on my parents as children who never processed their own abuse, but that still doesn’t excuse their behavior as adults.

      I make bad decisions that I can say were because of where I was in life, but that is only partially true. It’s also true that deep in my heart, I knew I could have done hard work to make a better decision.

      My entire life, people have been telling me that I will understand my parents decisions when I’m older – that I don’t really know what I’m talking about. Even now, some people have told me that when I’m 40, I will at last understand and begin to make excuses for bad behavior. I don’t think so. I think my eyes are open to the underlying psychological processes that most people ignore and that even when I’m over 50, I won’t be making excuses for my own parenting or for the parenting of others. When I talk to my friends in their 50s and 60s, I feel older than they, and I see how their excuses are damaging their relationships with their adult children. I wish they would come clean and own their choices. Maybe when they are 80, they will see it my way. (I partially mean to sound arrogant to evoke how I feel when people tell me that I’ll see if differently when I’m older).

      I think exposing the lies in the religious homeschool culture that create families ready to abuse their kids is important work. I hope people continue to do it despite sounding ungracious to some.

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      • Lisa McLean April 15, 2013 / 4:40 am

        What? Going without food? Sleep deprivation? that IS wicked!Good grief, maybe I should have read Part 1 =/ ~ Part II blames a bad marriage on homeschooling, and I just didn’t get that. Most of the people I know with bad marriages (and that’s a lot of people) weren’t homeschooled, heh. I wonder if we could say that legalistic religions and fear can cause bad marriages? Why does the school choice have to enter in? I just don get that part.

        I guess I don’t like being lumped in with child-abusers. =P

        Is there a way to talk about wickedness without driving a wedge between you and people like me?

        Five of my six kids are happy and functioning, two so happily married that I want to be like them when I grow up! I’m actually learning how to be a loving wife from THEM. They don’t have the junk I’ve taken 30 years to work through! and I went to school, see?

        I’m listening, though. I do have one child who is not happy with our school choice. He’s in a private school now. If you can bear with me you might be able to help him. You won’t, though, if you lump all homeschoolers together and call us wicked.

        I apologize for my chronological snobbery in my first comment. I hated when my mother did that to me. 😉

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      • Fern April 15, 2013 / 7:32 am

        I can’t figure out how to reply below. Sorry.

        I was referring to Mary’s story, which is a different series on this blog.

        I’m not lumping all homeschoolers together. I’m friends with current homeschooling parents, and I am sure that I know some in my former homeschool community who were not abusers. However, I think that homeschooling is attractive to abusers. My parents were very relieved to get us out of school so that other’s wouldn’t be able to see what they were doing. As homeschoolers, we grew up afraid of giving homeschooling a bad name and loosing our rights, which is part of why it’s very hard for us to speak out. I hope the homeschool community will become more aware of abuse and be willing to look for it and talk about it. I think bringing it to the light is the only way to help kids like me. Also, as fundie/evangelical homeschoolers, we have a unique culture that doesn’t make sense to other people. Finding that someone else understands exactly what we went through is part of why homeschooling enters the equation. If you read Mary’s story, you can see how if she went to public school, her parents would not have been able to abuse her quite so much. She would have had a chance of someone finding out. She would have had 6 hours a day to leave her abusers. Living with your abuser 24/7 with no chance to ever talk to someone without them around all while your parents lead homeschool meetings and mentor other people along the way is a unique horror to homeschooling (or just not being in school). Since parents like those are using homeschooling as a shelter from discovery, the current homeschool community needs to be aware of it and find a way to deal with it.

        Many of the people who have told me to be quiet about my story were not homeschoolers. However, they processed their own abuse from their parents by saying, “I forgive you. I’m a Christian. Now we can love each other even if you aren’t sorry and think I still owe you.” Since I’m not giving in to the lie of pretending that my family is working, they feel scared.

        I suspect that the wedge you feel might be from fear that if these stories come out, you will loose some rights. I think we might feel less of a wedge if we, abused homeschoolers, felt like you felt horror that such things would happen. One thing that has happened to me, is that as I tell my story (in real life) and ask for help, no one is every responsible. Church, homeschool group, parental friends, counselors in my dad’s organization, etc, no one ever offered any help. They politely blew me off and said it wasn’t their fault. If current homeschool parents said, “This abuse happens in our community. We need to be a real community and reach out to families who seem a little off and find out what is going on,” then I think the wedge between us would be gone.

        Maybe if you read some about what happens mentally to abused kids, you would encourage us in telling our stories. Telling the story is the first step to healing. A lot of us used dissociative techniques to survive. Our parents keep telling us that none of it ever happened. Our friends tell us to keep quiet. And yet, unless we tell the story, we will never be able to relate to others. Facing what really happened sometimes makes my vision go dark and I literally feel like I’m sinking into a crack. The saddest thing, is that if we don’t face what happened, we won’t be able to have deep relationships now. We are doomed to being alone forever. I think if you really understood what has happened to us mentally, you would encourage us to speak more. I am not blaming you for not understanding. I have realized that very few people understand – even 2 counselors told me to keep quiet though I think that was to protect their financial interests. I feel a generosity of spirit toward you thinking that if you really understood, you would move past your fear and embrace our stories.

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      • Lisa McLean April 15, 2013 / 9:38 am

        Darling Fern, that is all just so sad. I’m so sorry. ‘Horror’ is a good word.

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  2. Michele April 12, 2013 / 7:22 pm

    Look at the secular homeschooling movement. Google secular home schooling and you’ll find a ton of people who do all different sorts of homeschooling. For example: after schooling where you go.through a curriculum with your child a couple hours after school. We are nice and non judgemental but do tend have a lot of dirt under our fingernails. But as for actual magazines, I think it is all on the web, lessens the recycling load!
    Namaste.

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