An Open Letter to Our Families: Esperanza’s Thoughts

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HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Esperanza” is a pseudonym. Also by Esperanza on HA: “Cookie Cutters and the Power of Secrecy.”

Dear family,

The holidays are usually a time of great joy, spending extra time together as a family, laughing, sharing precious moments and building memories. The holidays seem perfectly designed for family togetherness, and yet, we, your adult children sit here in the midst of the most dreaded season of them all. Because at every turn we are told that holidays mean having this perfect Christmas card worthy family scene, and that is so very far from our reality.

We, your children, your brothers, your sisters, face a Thanksgiving where we’re not sure how to be thankful because of the huge amounts of anger and hurt being thrown our way. Your words wound us until we are unsure how we’re even supposed to keep from crying into our turkey and cranberry sauce. We face a Christmas sitting alone at home, because that was the only option that didn’t involve being hurt over and over again by your cutting words and judgments. We can’t afford to go somewhere nice on our own because we have to fend for ourselves in a world we were woefully unprepared for. Trying to pay for our own education while working to the bone to create a decent life for ourselves is no easy task, yet it is one you seem completely content to have handed to us.

Most days we are able to bury the hurt we have experienced at your hand just below the surface, simply so that we can continue surviving.

We have to be the strong ones, because we are on our own.

There’s no time to let your words sink deep enough to break us down. However as the holidays come, it seems that every year it is just too hard to ignore that pain. Perhaps it is because for those of us that are still in our families’ lives, the hurts continue year after year. And for those of us who are gone from your life, the absence and quiet becomes just too loud to shut out today.

So today, and perhaps just for today, let’s talk about how much it hurts to be a broken family.

We are your sons, your daughters, your brothers, your sisters. We are part of that great idea called family. Friends you are born into life with, people you share DNA with, all part of the same group that is supposed to stick together through thick or thin. And yet somehow, somewhere, our perfectly preserved little family fell apart.

Some of us have experienced the complete and utter rejection from our families outright. Too many children have been turned out on the streets by the very people who gave life to them. There is hardly anything worse you could ever do to your own child. Some of us have moved forward with our own hopes and dreams only to hear in the midst of our own joy and freedom that the doors have been slammed shut behind us. Yet others have met the one that fills their soul, and you, our family; say “we want you to be happy, but only by the happiness we define for you.” Sadly, our dreams, goals, lovers, and futures do not line up with the harsh lines you have drawn in the sand.

We are told in no uncertain terms that we are not a welcome member of your family any longer.

While resolute rejection is a heartbreaking thing to experience, there are also those of you that call yourselves our family and project this pretty little family togetherness image to those around you, yet when it’s only us around the dinner table the gloves come off. We are expected to act as if everything is perfect and wonderful, yet all the time hearing words that tear us down to our core. You say we are unworthy of your deep love and affection because we don’t share the same view on all issues. We are only to be tolerated and condescended to spend time with.

This kind of “love” is, to put it nicely, a lie.

There’s not much we know to be true from our childhood teachings, but the one main message we heard loud and clear is that God is Love. You may put a pretty spin on it, call it tough love, but when your words are poisonous to the soul, this is not the love of Jesus. When we cry ourselves to sleep because of this deep separation from our former closest confidantes, this, dear family, is not the unconditional, agape love you preached. Whether you like to admit it or not, we may have actually absorbed that lesson better than you did. Perhaps in the midst of the Greek and Hebrew studies you lost sight of the hearts of those you were supposed to be teaching about this simple love.  Whatever the reason, we know better. Love is not love when it changes or has qualifiers. This “love” you tell us about as you hurl your dagger words is not love, but rather you trying to comfort your conscience with excuses.

And finally we come to the third kind of broken adult child. Those of us who have had to walk away from you, rather than the other way around. To be fair, all of us have had to do this to some extent to pursue our own dreams and move forward in life, but there are those of us that have had to put the walls all the way up, for our own safety and sanity. When the messages of attack and hurt come wave after wave, it takes its toll. You know that saying “death by a thousand paper cuts?” Well the same could be said about your words, family. There is only so much pain and heartbreak we can endure before we are simply done.

As much as it breaks our heart, it also saves our heart.

In our community, the stories of suicide, depression, self harm etc, are far too common. Sometimes, for our own safety, we have to shut you out, because there are only so many toxic things one can handle until the pain becomes too much.

Please family; take us seriously when we tell you how badly your words hurt. You would not believe how much your preaching, lying, manipulating, guilting, attacking, and judging tear us down. If you are still in our lives, do not take that for granted. It is by our choice, and our choice alone. Heed this warning, because you never know which word will be the thousandth painful word that causes us to walk away forever. If you have shut us out, please think about the relationships you are missing. Grandchildren, cousins, nieces, brothers, nephews, sisters, and daughters.

We are your children.

You raised and cared for us. We trusted you the most. We trusted you first, before anyone else. Please, take a moment this holiday season to think about us, your adult children, and consider changing your attitude toward us. We aren’t asking you to change your convictions. We wouldn’t want you to ask us to change ours (even though you have). We don’t seek to convert you to our “side.” We don’t want to debate, discuss, or disagree. We just want to be a family.

We just want to be purely, unconditionally, forever loved.

Coming Out About My Unbelief to My Sister

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Sheldon, who blogs at Ramblings of Sheldon. It was originally published on November 27, 2013.

As I’ve said before, I’m really growing weary of the charade I have to keep up in order to remain in the atheist closet. I had been talking to my fellow ex-fundamentalist bloggers on Twitter about whether I should come out to my sister, who has always been there for me throughout my life (she even helped to raise me as a young boy, long story there I won’t get into right now.

On Sunday, I was debating whether or not I should come out, but then lost my courage at the last minute. Well, finally, Tuesday night, I finally worked up the courage to finally come out to her.

My sister, in recent years, has gone from the Independent Fundamental Baptist cult to what would be considered more mainstream beliefs in the fundamentalist/evangelical world (beliefs more along the lines of the Southern Baptist denomination).

I’m glad she’s out of the IFB. She fell into that group because of the influence of the IFB ran “school” I went to in my elementary years. She was there too — though, because of the age gap between us, she was in her high school years at the time, and fell prey to them pushing Hyles-Anderson College as a great place to go.

Still, I wish she would give up fundamentalism altogether, especially for the sake of her kids. Right now, she is homeschooling her kids with ACE.

That’s the same awful curriculum I grew up with.

I talk to my nephew and two nieces on the phone, and when I’m visiting her in northern Indiana. It kinds of breaks my heart to see how they just seem more childlike, than other children their age.

They do get to spend time with other children at their church, and with some young neighbors, but still, the isolation inherent in fundamentalist homeschooling is taking its toll. She doesn’t even realize it. She doesn’t realize the effects of that because she wasn’t home schooled herself.

I’m wondering that if in 10-15 years, I’m going to be getting that coming out call from one of her kids. She means well, and isn’t hostile or abusive towards her kids by any means, like our mother was. She just doesn’t know the difference. Really, it’s unfortunate. I wonder how many young fundamentalist mothers like her are out there.

I called her, and I just spilled it to her. I didn’t use the dreaded “A word” (Atheism). I didn’t know if that would distract from the whole conversation. She was surprised as I expected, and she said that it would have “blown her socks off if she was wearing them”.

I started from the beginning, from the nervous breakdown, being told that my depression was “guilt” and not having a “right relationship with god”, the unfortunate falling for that cruel lie, doubling down on Christianity, soaking up as much as I could about the Bible again, studying it and the works of various theologians, and eventually coming to realization that I couldn’t believe in it anymore.

It worried her to some extent, she seems to think that it’s just a time of questioning, despite me repeatedly telling her that it’s been 4 years now since I came to the conclusion that I can no longer believe. She told me to be sure before I eventually have to approach my mom and dad about this, and warned me about how that she is likely going to throw all she has been doing recently for me in my face.

She knows what my mom is like.

My sister had the worst end of the abuse growing up, because she was the only one willing to stand up to my mom.

I just tried to survive as best I could, staying out of her way, avoiding anything I knew would trigger her anger. Though it didn’t often work. She would invent any excuse necessary to take out her anger on us.

My sister doesn’t seem to understand what it going on, that this is not something I came to lightly. But the important thing is, she’s standing behind me. She has made it clear that she will stand behind me, even after this, and won’t let her beliefs get in the way of family.

In some ways, she can see how I reached this point. She said at times that he has questioned everything. She says at times she doesn’t feel as close to God as she used to feel, but she always ended up coming back.

I had told her, looking at it now, when I’m “undercover” in the church  I am in, (the one I am a member of still, and have attended since I was 12), that I hear what people are saying around me, and I can’t understand how I possibly believed it in the first place. She said it was because that was all I ever knew from birth, had I been raised in another nation, the predominant faith there would have been all I knew.

In some ways she gets it, and in some ways she doesn’t. I hope that the more open I become with her, that it will help her gain more of an understanding of why I came to this point, and that it’s who I am now. I told her that I’m growing weary of all this, I can’t keep hiding who I am now, and that I’m not looking forward to dealing with my mom.

It really will show my mom’s character (or more than likely, lack thereof), when I finally come out to her. I could lose the financial help and help with rebuilding my house, and taking care of my dog that she is currently doing, which would be hard to deal with. But I can learn to cope, the rough road ahead will be worth it.

I want to finally be able to live openly — and if that means losing the relationship with my mother, or being forced to cut her out of my life for my own sanity, then that is worth it.

In fact, it sounds horrible, but that’s probably the best outcome in the end, the one that will help me to heal over time.

I wish my mom could be more like my sister, willing to accept me for who I am, even if she doesn’t understand it. In fact, I wish more families, and parents especially, would follow her example.

You don’t have to agree with your family members in order to love them, and if you are putting your faith, your dogma, over love for your family, it’s showing that your religion (or more than likely, your interpretation of it), is more important to you than the people you are supposed to love.

It reveals to me, especially if you are a parent, that you are using your faith as means to control and manipulate people, and that if your children/family members are rejecting that, then they are worthless to you as a human being.

If someone feels this way, then they are not someone I want in my life, and I have no respect for them at all.

The Fundamental Reality of The Family Is Not Just Amorphous “Rights” Language

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The Fundamental Reality of The Family Is Not Just Amorphous “Rights” Language, By Virgil T. Morant

Virgil T. Morant is a lawyer in northeastern Ohio. He practices civil litigation and criminal defense, as well as corporate law, and his work includes representation of clients in disputes over education and child custody. He is also a member of the International Law Section of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. His personal blog is Lasseter’s Lost Reef.

*****

“The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.”  

That’s article 16(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one part of the International Bill of Rights from the United Nations.  While one does not need an especially fertile imagination to think of a good many people whose disdain for the U.N. (or suspicion at the least) would give little consideration to the authority, and while ordinary people don’t typically go around citing U.N. resolutions, that statement transcends legal controversy or political debate: it states a principle that is widely shared.

It is not just a statement about the organization of society: it is an affirmation of how people generally feel about the dignity and centrality of home and family.  Indeed even many of those who likely would have no truck with the United Nations and no love for International Law virtually quote that article word for word every day when they’re arguing about matters of home and family, and probably most of them scarcely even realize it.  When we talk about rights, however precisely or imprecisely, we are talking about things that people feel very deeply about, things that give their lives meaning and purpose.

That quote right there about the family says it.

Now, in ordinary speech as well as the commonplace discourse of journalists and editorialists (“bloggers” too of course), any talk of rights is inevitably amorphous and indicative more of feelings and desires than it is of well-defined or cognizable rights.  So, frequently when someone says that a right has been violated, what he really means is that he has been offended in some way.  In everyday speech, and even in garden-variety “professional” commentary, that is fine—people who are talking casually or writing frequently will resort to such boilerplate, and there is little sense in crying about it—but, if we wish to step away from casual usage, we are likely best served by using the language of rights in two ways: (1) if the right is legally cognizable, then by reference to the authority that defines it or (2) if we are making a case for a right, then by setting out our definitions, argument, and authority.

In his recent article, R.L. Stollar—who graciously invited me to write my reply to him as a guest post—actually used precisely these methods in order to make the case that homeschooling was not a right.  Turning, however, to the authority he used and considering his argument, I have to disagree with his conclusion.

The chief authority Mr. Stollar uses is Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).  After the prior sections of that article deal with an individual’s right to an education, what level of education should be mandatory, and some discussion of the social purposes of education, UDHR art. 26(3) states, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

As I noted in my comment to Mr. Stollar’s post, this language both gives a priority to parents in the determination of their children’s education and states it in terms of an act that is compelled: the children shall be educated, and the parents have the prior right to choose the kind of education.  Some portion of Mr.Stollar’s post got bound up in the notion that a human right cannot be controlling over another person, but the very language he quoted seems to dispel that by granting parents what it unambiguously calls a right to make determinations for other human beings (parents choosing for their children).

On top of this, it is not difficult to think of a number of other rights that involve and even require the cooperation, restraint, or compulsion of other human beings.  

I noted the right to counsel in criminal proceedings in my comment on his post.  How about also the right to reasonable working hours (UDHR art. 24), which places limits on how much an employer can demand of his employees and requires him to provide reasonable leave, or the right to one’s reputation (UDHR art. 12), which limits freedom of speech from, say, defamation?  These are just two examples.

Rights place obligations upon the state to vindicate them, but they also often entail a restraint on individual human beings as well as granting the capacity for one human being to impose restraint upon another (as in parents making decisions for their children) or to seek redress for a violation (as when one sues for defamation).

If we want to look to concrete authority to argue whether homeschooling is a right, by the way, why stop with the UDHR?

Both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESC) make favorable reference to the “liberty of parents.”

They, together with the UDHR, belong to that International Bill of Human Rights mentioned above.  Consider the full language of ICESC art. 13 ¶ ¶ 3-4:

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents and, when applicable, legal guardians to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, which conform to such minimum educational standards as may be laid down or approved by the State and to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.

4. No part of this article shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principles set forth in paragraph I of this article and to the requirement that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Paragraph 3 states its “respect” for parental liberty in school choice—even choices besides public school—and paragraph 4 puts some teeth to this by forbidding the instrument from being interpreted to interfere with the individual’s liberty to establish educational institutions.  Make of that what you will.

If, then, what remains of the argument against homeschooling being a right comes down to the travel by horse analogy (see Mr. Stollar’s essay for this), then my response is:

Traveling by horse, if you have one, actually is a right, and it falls within the right to freedom of movement.  

Of course it is not a right to take someone else’s horse or to be given a horse, but the right to travel is one primarily cognizable in not being restrained from travel, and surely no state should have the right to stop you, under normal circumstances, from hopping on your horse and going where you will.  Just the same, if a parent has a right to determine his child’s type of education, and, if we are agreed that whatever form of homeschooling we are talking about is a legitimate type of education, then surely the parental right includes the right to school the child at home.

Of course, at some point in narrowing rights down to specific examples, it would become absurd to insist that they all be found in a United Nations convention. But a good many of the things we value as rights (in some proper sense of the word) are actually spelled out in writing in statutes and case law, which constitute an overwhelming number of words and pages.  If there is any uncertainty about whether something should be legally protected—such as the right to school one’s children at home—then off to court one goes, where lawyers will find the citations and make the arguments.

It’s all quite entertaining for pundits and ordinary people to complain about “rights” being violated, but rights don’t mean much of anything in a society of laws until their existence is tested and proven through law. 

Sometimes too, by the way, the universality of a norm is well demonstrated by the states that violate the norm against the greater consensus.  So, however the current business in Germany, for instance, shakes out, and whatever may be adjudicated in the Unites States or anywhere else, for my own part, I just cannot fathom educating one’s children at home as not being a right—or, if you prefer (but I think this is hair-splitting), as squarely fitting within the right to choose the education of one’s children.

We get emotional about our rights.  We get emotional about these homeschooling rights in particular, because, as with any human liberty, they are subject to abuse, and by “abuse” I mean to say the kinds of acts that take us squarely outside the realm of rights.  The abuses of homeschooling are famous in the portion of the blogosphere where I am writing now.  And then there is the hazy realm of, let’s call it, “indoctrination”: why, with some of the more scandalous examples of homeschooling, what sorts of things are they teaching those children!  A false history or poor science or just a pathological contempt for this segment of society or that or for society on the whole, perhaps?

Let’s don’t forget, though, even when children go to public schools, their primary role models remain their parents.  Even when children go through their rebellious phases, reckon themselves independent and free-thinking as adolescents will do, if they live in a home with parents, their parents are their principal models of how life is.  Their chief guides, even if the parents don’t know it or don’t want it.  No one can jack you up worse early in life than mom and dad, and nobody can guide and protect you better either.

The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society.  

That’s not just legal jargon, and it’s not just amorphous “rights” language.  It’s the fundamental reality of parents and their children.

Homeschooling and Sibling Relationships

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Libby Anne’s blog Love Joy Feminism. It was originally published on Patheos on June 5, 2013.

The homeschool literature that my parents read promised them that homeschooling would create perfect sibling relationships among us children, and make us all especially close and really good friends with each other—unlike those public school kids’ distant relationships with their siblings, and rivalries rather than friendships, of course. I want to take a moment, then, to talk about sibling to sibling relationships in my family. This is kind of embarrassing, to be honest—I’m not going to come off so well here.

It’s true that we kids played together all the time growing up. We sort of had to—there wasn’t usually any other option. I mean sure, we had people over, but most of the time it was just us, and so we were each other’s playmates. I have so many memories of exploring creeks, building lego cities, and chasing each other across the pond. I could go on and on—we really did have great times. But here is my first caveat—I’ve found that most of my friends today who were public schooled also had great adventures with their siblings. Sure, they weren’t around each other for quite as many hours of the day, but it’s wrong to think that they didn’t also explore creeks together, build lego cities together, and chase each other across a pond or pool. In fact, come to think of it, I had cousins growing up who went to public school (and lived far away so we very rarely saw them), and I know for a fact that they did all of those things regularly.

Now, anyone who thinks that homeschooling magically eliminates sibling rivalry is sorely, sorely confused. I’m having troubles thinking of how to easily describe it, but we had sibling rivalries, and lots of them. There were literally three years when one of my brothers and I fought every time we had to spend more than half an hour together (which meant it happened multiple times a day, of course). We just set each other off, somehow. One of my sisters and I just had such completely different outlooks that we ended up permanently at odds—she resented me for being a goody-goody, and I resented her for not being the picture perfect Christian homeschool kid. There were several sisters in a row at one point, and this didn’t always work out that well—there were plenty of times when some of them tore down the others, continually, and with no real explanation. But beyond all this, as I’m going to explain, I actually think that in our case homeschooling served to exacerbate sibling rivalry.

For one thing, we kids fought over friends. See, rather than having individual friends our family generally got together with other like-minded homeschool families as families. So, say, the Smiths and their five kids would come over, or the Joneses and their nine kids, and we’d just play with whoever was somewhere around our age. In this process, I stole friends from my close-in-age-sister. Twice. And once I took a friend who by age probably should have been hers, but I got to her first and monopolized her. And no, this didn’t make for much happy-making between my sister and I. But, well, there were a limited number of friends available to us, so we fought with each other over them, and I usually won. If we’d been in school, we would have been in separate classes and had our own individual pools of friends.

In addition, because we were homeschooled we siblings had to spend 24 hours a day together. Sometimes this worked out great, but sometimes we got on each other’s nerves. A lot. A very, very lot. I suspect that if we had had more time apart from each other we might have grated on each other less. It would have given us a break. It would have meant that we could each have our own space and our own things—something we didn’t really have, and something we often sorely needed.

Next, bullying. Talking about bullying is rather difficult because, well, I was the bully. My parents followed the Pearls’ child training methods, which they came to after another homeschool family recommended them. Based on these methods, they gave us older kids the authority to spank the younger ones. I was never sadistic or anything, but I sure wasn’t very nice about it, and I learned after coming of age and leaving home that many of the younger ones saw me as a bully and had come to hate me. Only, in this case I had been a bully they couldn’t get away from. Normally, kids who are bullied at school have a respite at home. Not so my siblings. Sadly, I’ve seen this same pattern copied by others of my siblings, and even today, among those of my siblings still living at home, the older ones are authorized to spank the younger ones. In some ways, it’s rather like parent-approved bullying. As I’ve written before, I deeply regret my involvement in this. Sure, this pattern can exist without homeschooling, but in our case it was a pattern my parents implemented based on the literature and teachings of the homeschool movement, and not something I think they would have adopted had they not homeschooled.

There’s another issue I should probably discuss as well—as junior mom, I had my favorite among the younger kids. I favored her, and the other kids knew it. In fact, more than once when I was presiding as judge over an altercation the other children accused me of taking my favorite’s side just because she was my favorite. And it was probably true. What’s saddest to me about this is actually what happened after I left home—that special relationship didn’t last. My favorite felt I’d abandoned her when all I’d done was left for college—but she was too young at the time to understand. And then things blew up between myself and my parents and there was a long gap when I didn’t visit home at all, and was afraid to have too much contact with my siblings for fear of risking my parents’ disapproval. I wish I still had a special closeness to the girl I mothered as a teen, but it’s gone now and rebuilding it is hindered by a lack of trust. Perhaps this is something specific to me, but I think it suggests that the junior mother-favored little sibling dynamic common in so many homeschool families I knew growing up wasn’t really so healthy as we thought it was.

And now we come to today.

Today, I’m extremely close to several of my adult siblings—but I’m close to them not because of being with them 24/7 growing up but rather because we were bound together by adversity as young adults. These specific siblings also went through problems with my parents when they became adults and started making their own choices, and during this time we cried on each other’s shoulders, blew off steam in long phone conversations, talked about out our backgrounds have affected us, and just generally were there for each other—and we still do this today. The interesting thing is that these aren’t even necessarily the siblings I was closest to as a kid. As for the kids still at home, my relationships with each of them are weird because if I actively try to undermine what my parents are teaching them, my parents will likely limit my contact with them, and avoiding things that will undermine what my parents are teaching them means avoiding talking about basically everything I’m interested in.

I don’t think homeschooling enhanced sibling to sibling relationships in our family. I’m not saying there weren’t some good things—I did spend more time playing with my siblings than public schooled children do, and I have lots of positive memories from these times—but rather that I think the downsides outweighed what we gained. So when I read the following quote by homeschool pioneer Mary Pride, I just had to laugh. With this background, let me offer the quote and some thoughts I had on reading it.

However, in one respect these books do get it right. In school, kids learn to segregate themselves by age. Older kids learn to be embarrassed about spending time with younger kids. Schoolkids also quickly learn the art of the putdown, and all about “ganging up” on the victim of the day. When all these social fighting skills – which clueless folks refer to as “socialization” – are brought home, it can take sibling rivalry to a new level of meanness.

Does she seriously think sibling rivalry only turns mean when kids attend public school and thus learn bullying techniques and bringing those techniques home? Or, conversely, that public school kids naturally have troubled sibling-sibling relationships? Or, to ask a third question, that homeschooling can’t in certain ways serve to increase sibling rivalry? Because my experience and the experiences of friends I now have who were public schooled very much suggests otherwise.

Does she seriously think that homeschooled kids don’t learn how to put each other down or gang up on each other? Goodness, don’t get me started on the ganging up on each other bit—for a long time, my siblings and I were split into two groups and automatically took opposite sides when there was a fight. Sometimes one faction would gang up on one kid in the other faction, and the rest of that child’s action would rush to her rescue. Each faction viewed the other with some degree of suspicion.

Does she seriously think that homeschooled kids never get annoyed by kid siblings and, yes, even at times come to resent them? Let me tell you right now—they do! I wouldn’t say I ever felt actual resentment—though the same cannot be said of all of my siblings—but I did find some of the younger ones quite annoying at times. And sometimes we older ones—some more than others—wished we could get the little kids out of our hair so we could have some space, but when the little kids share a room with you, it’s rather hard to do that.

When it comes to sibling to sibling relationships, my parents would have done better here if they had sought to read about and learn techniques for fostering positive sibling relationships rather than simply assuming that the act of homeschooling would turn us all into singing cherubs. But then, they bought what Mary Pride was selling hook line and sinker.

I want to be clear that I’m not trying to generalize from my experience—while there may be some similar patterns, I think the dynamics of sibling relationships will vary greatly from homeschool family to homeschool family (just as they vary greatly from public school family to public school family). I’m simply saying that the promise my parents were given that homeschooling would create close and blissful sibling relationships—and also would mean that none of us would face bullying—turned out to be false and grossly misleading. And yet, homeschool speakers and organizations are still out there making this same promise to unsuspecting homeschool parents today. Perhaps, in some small way, my story can help.

If you were homeschooled, I’d like to invite you to use this space to talk about how sibling relationships went in your family. And if you weren’t homeschooled, feel free to talk about your own experiences with sibling relationships and how they compare and contrast with the things I talk about here.