10 Things (Former) Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling


Introduction by Nicholas Ducote, HA Community Coordinator; list is a group effort by numerous members of the HA community.


UPDATE, 01/05/2015: The title of this piece is, “10 Things Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling.” It is based on members of the HA community finding the “10 Things” in a homeschool parent’s article similar to statements they commonly heard growing up. The similarity proved too close for comfort. Thus these community members are expressing their reactions to those statements from their own experiences. This list represents the experiences of those contributors; it does not claim to be the universal homeschooling experience.


Two days ago, this post came across my Facebook feed titled “10 Things Homeschool Moms Wish You Knew.” The blog post is generally about defenses of their homeschooling methods, especially in regards to math education, socialization, grade-level, and comparisons with kids who attend public schools. Her second “Thing” disturbed me greatly because, like her son, I could plan a Bible study (about math!) at age 15, but I still struggle with basic high school math.

“2. Our kids are behind in school.

It’s true. My daughter can’t spell “were” to save her life. She’s 13, for goodness sakes. My son hasn’t opened his math book in…well, let’s just say, it’s been a while. They are behind in some subjects. But, let me let you in on a little secret…your kids are behind too. Now, before you start arguing with me that your child just made principal’s honor roll, let me ask you this: Can your 17 year old change the brakes on a car? No? What have you been teaching him? Can your 13 year old plan a Bible lesson and teach a whole room full of students? No? What has she been studying?? Mine can do that and more.”

While changing the brakes on your car will save you some money on occasion, missing out on a fundamental math education will substantially limit your capabilities as an adult. Not every child is gifted in math, but that doesn’t mean you give up or don’t keep at it.

So in the spirit of viral counter-lists, our survivor community has compiled their own:

10 Things Homeschoolers Wish Their Parents Knew While Homeschooling

1. Your choice to homeschool was never about us. It was about control, it was about you. It was about creating little robots that mimicked your beliefs and did what they were told so that you could show off how superior we were to the whole world. It wasn’t the best decision for us, sometimes it was a really bad decision. But that didn’t matter because your belief that homeschooling would save your kids and make them Super Christians matter more than our individual needs.

2. Some of us were behind in school and are now behind in life. This is not a good thing.

Don’t assume real-life experience and book-learnin’ are mutually exclusive…. and don’t assume that we got either one. Our parents phrased it as this tradeoff existed between “well, your kids are up to grade level, but MINE have life skills,” but often, it didn’t work that way at all. We didn’t get the education we should have had, but we also did’nt learn most of the things that would have helped us in the “real world” later on. Bills? Checkbooks? Banking? Insurance? Credit cards? Managing money, being self-supporting, holding down a job, driving, etc etc etc? Nah.

3. Fundamental schooling is more important than your religion. Forcing your beliefs down our throats at the cost of educational building blocks is immoral

4. Despite the lies you’re told, you don’t have to homeschool to be a Christian. Have a little faith in your own parenting abilities when your kids go to public school. When our parents got impatient because we couldn’t learn what they were teaching, they should’ve changed how they taught or sent us to school so we could actually learn. Not screamed or locked themselves in the bathroom.

5. Admit when you’re in over your head. It’s okay.

6. That’s legit. People should leave kids alone.

7. It would’ve been nice to know what our grades were. That way when we graduated and entered the real world, we would know whether we were good competition for our peers or woefully behind and unable to get scholarships and jobs.

8. You say we were socialized. Which actually meant that we were pretty good at talking to adults. But many of us have no idea how to relate to peers. Peers scare the crap out of us. Kids are good, we can talk to kids. But some of us still struggle to see ourselves as adults and peers of adults and struggle to relate and socialize with other adults our age. This is the product of most homeschooling socialization.

9. You worry? Did you ever stop to think those worries were legit? You say “if you can’t say anything nice about our choices, then please just don’t say anything at all.” But you also describe educational neglect and your children’s lack of basic skills. I was glad every time someone stood up to my parents – like when my grandparents fought for months for my parents to allow me to receive a newspaper subscription.

10. You said “We like being different. We are okay being different, and we hope you can appreciate us for our differences!” Do you think your kids feel the same way? Would they even tell you if they didn’t? Because my mom said the same things. But the fact was I hated being different. I hated being weird and the freak. I hated it all and was miserable because of it. So speak for yourself.

10 Things Homeschool Parents Try To Explain But Fail


HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on January 3, 2015.

There’s an article going around, called “10 Things Homeschool Moms Want You To Know”. Reading her points made me cringe, as it did my homeschooled friends who read it. You see, we were the kids in her article. So our perspective on these things are a little different than hers. Since this post was being passed around and lauded by homeschooling parents, I thought it worth an examination. I took her points and thoughtfully went through them here. Because I think that other homeschooled parents need to know that their perspective on homeschooling is not the only, and perhaps not the most important, one.

“1. Our choice to homeschool is not a judgment on you.”

This was her first point. She goes on to say that others shouldn’t feel bad, she won’t judge you for not homeschooling, don’t judge her for homeschooling, everyone is just doing what’s best for their kids. That’s all well and good and I sincerely hope it’s true for her. However, this was not my experience either as a homeschooled child or as a public school parent. Homeschooling was toted as superior no matter what. And those who didn’t homeschool just didn’t love their kids enough or let “worldly things” get in their way of choosing the best for their kids. We were raised thinking we were superior to public schooled kids, which we learned from the seminars and books and attitudes of the adults in our world. As a mom whose kids are in public school, I can say that this attitude of superiority is still prevalent in my world. It’s been repackaged by the new wave of homeschooling as “the natural, best way to teach children”. But it’s still a superiority complex. I think it’s great if everyone just chooses the best route for their family and leaves others alone unless harm is being done, but that just hasn’t been my experience in this context, then or now.

“2. Our kids are behind in school.”

This one really irks me and I almost think is the most important point:

Educational neglect is a very real travesty among my alumni peers.

It isn’t something to joke about. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. This is not a good thing. The author says that her 13-yr-old daughter can’t spell “were” and her son hasn’t done his math. She then throws up a red herring to distract from these disturbing facts to tell her readers (who are presumably public school parents) that it’s OK because our kids are behind too. Behind in what? Well, life skills! That’s right, she says because her kids can change the brakes in a car and lead a Bible study they’re actually not behind but yours are because they can’t do basic life things, and claims importance is “a matter of perspective”. But from my perspective and that of my friends, having “life skills” and not being equal to our peers in academics means that we are not only behind in school, we are now behind in life. We were taken out of the competition before we even started. Jobs, scholarships, college, all the things that could get us where we want to go in life….we never stood a chance for these. We, with all our “life skills” and “work ethics”, were passed over for kids who weren’t behind in school. You can complain all you like about the way things are and the way things should be, but the way things are means that if you do not have academic skills equal to your peers, you will lose. And you will spend your adult life trying to catch up. Many of my friends are in their 20’s and taking high-school equivalency classes just to get into college. They are a decade behind their peers. Take it from the homeschooled alumni: this is serious and needs to be taken seriously. 

Now about the false dichotomy. Does she really think that public schooled kids can’t change brakes or lead a Bible study? That public schooled kids have only “book learning”? Where you go to school doesn’t make a difference, it’s how you’re parented that provides education in life skills. My kids are in public school. They also spend their free time with animals, art, reading, baking, camping, fishing, going on geological hikes, visiting museums, helping Dad fix things, learning horse care, and myriads of other things that will give them life skills. They are also very much NOT behind in academics. You can have the best of both worlds, and I suggest that if this mother’s children are not getting that, perhaps she needs to rethink her educational methods.

“3. Our kids are weird.”

So, yeah, I was definitely weird. Actually, I felt like a freak as a child. It was tough. Maybe I would’ve still felt that way in public school, maybe not. But she goes on to say “don’t stereotype, we’re not all like that”, which is cool and everything, except for the fact that her entire piece is based on stereotyping both homeschoolers and kids in public school. Huh.

“4. We really aren’t all that patient.”

This one is a little concerning. She says, “We aren’t any more patient than you are. There are days when we scream. There are days when we cry. There are days when we lock ourselves in the bathroom for hours on end. Our kids drive us crazy too.” I’m no perfect parent and I’ve done my share of yelling and losing patience, but, see, screaming is not really normal. Unless your child is about to be run over by a stampede or bit by a snake, screaming at children is not merely “I lost my patience”. It’s more like “I am overwhelmed and taking it out on the first people I see”. And, no, I have never locked myself in the bathroom. If I need some space I go outside and breathe and watch my kids play and soak up some sunshine. I get out of the house and spend time in a book store or on a mountain somewhere by myself.

I take care of myself so I can take care of my kids.

There are healthy and unhealthy ways to blow off steam and screaming at your kids is not healthy. Locking yourself in the bathroom is a sign you need help and major self-care. Saying, “See? I’m just like you! I do crazy things that are a cry for help!” is not convincing at all. It’s OK to say you’re in over your head and need help, need to switch things up a bit. Many of us lived daily with parents that were stretched to the max because of homeschooling. Parents that were constantly impatient because they never had time to take care of themselves and therefore they couldn’t rightly care for us. Parents who threw their hands up in the air, declared “school is over today I can’t take anymore” at 10 AM, and locked themselves in their room. This not ok.

As someone who was the child in this author’s scenario, I need parents to know that this is not healthy and does not produce healthy relationships or attitudes in the home. As a parent, I get the need for a break, trust me. My husband is a trucker and I parent 4 kids alone. So take a break! You are not superwoman. But don’t act in unhealthy ways, don’t sacrifice your kids’ education and emotional security for the sake of homeschooling. It isn’t worth it and you aren’t doing them any favors.

And if this was just supposed to be a joke…..it failed miserably. It’s not funny.

“5. We’re just trying to do what’s best for our kids.”

See, here’s my thoughts: many, if not most, parents want what’s best for their kids. I mean, have you ever heard a parent say, “Naw, I don’t really care what’s best for my kids”?  But they’ve been duped into thinking that homeschooling is always The Best Right Way for their kids, so much so, that all the warning signs that it isn’t actually best….like screaming and locking yourself in the bathroom and your kids falling behind…..are completely ignored.  “We were just trying to do what was best!” is something we alumni have heard ad nauseam. When, in reality, they couldn’t see past the picture of The Perfect Family that they so desperately wanted to what really was best. They were so convinced they were right, they let critical thinking fly out the door. They bought a bill of goods hook, line, and sinker, to our detriment. When my best friend’s mom couldn’t figure out how to teach her what she needed to know, she just quit teaching her. No more school. Because public school was so wrong and evil that it couldn’t possibly be better than nothing at all. The warning signs that homeschooling is not “what’s best” are there. There’s a bunch of them in this author’s piece. (Can I just say that if your 13-yr-old can’t spell, and you’re locking yourself in the bathroom, and your kids are unable to operate in the society they were born into, that you are not “Doing what is best” for them OR for you?) But those warning signs will be ignored because Homeschooling is a hill to die on and there can be no failure. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it. So many of our parents still insist homeschooling was “best” even in face of educational neglect, emotional abuse, and lifelong struggles due to being homeschooled poorly. So I have a difficult time with parents like this one who claim if it wasn’t best, they wouldn’t do it. They will never be convinced that it isn’t best so the claim is pointless. I sincerely hope I’m wrong, that this parent, this author, is different. But I’m cynical for good reason.

“6. Our kids are not trick ponies.”

From a kids’ perspective, this is totally legit. It was always annoying to be given pop quizzes upon a stranger’s discovery that we were homeschooled. Just leave kids alone, ‘k? They don’t owe you an explanation for their parent’s choices.

“7. Grades don’t reflect character.”

Does anyone think they do?

She then downplays grades as unimportant and character as the most important thing. Another obvious false dichotomy. And from the alumni’s perspective, it would’ve been nice to know what our grades were. That way when we graduated and entered the real world, we would know whether we were good competition for our peers or woefully behind and unable to get scholarships and jobs. Parents liked to say that grades didn’t matter, but I think they should have. Perhaps just to make sure they were teaching us the way we needed to be taught, to make sure we were keeping up and learning, to hold them accountable.

I sometimes think now the whole “grades don’t matter” mantra was really a cop-out for our parents so they didn’t have anyone to judge their competency. For us, it just made everything confusing and made us think we were smarter or dumber than we really were. Trying being 18 and getting to college and realizing for the first time that grades DO matter. On a test, your profs aren’t going to say “Oh, your D doesn’t matter, we know you have great character”.

Once again, the idealism of the homeschoolers doesn’t match the real world that we were thrown into as adults unprepared. 

“8. Our kids are socialized.”

That’s good to know. She says, “People seem to have great concern about whether or not our kids are well-adjusted socially. We would like to assure you, they are doing just fine.” I wonder if she’s thought to ask her kids how they feel about their socialization? Because my parents, and every homeschooled parent I knew, said the same things. “They are well-socialized” actually meant that we were pretty good at talking to adults and playing with small children. But many of us have no idea still how to relate to peers. Peers scare the crap out of us. Some of us still struggle to see ourselves as adults and peers of adults and struggle to relate and socialize with other adults our age. This is the product of most homeschooling socialization. We spent our lives around adults and siblings, and, rarely some of us luckier than others got to be a part of homeschooled co-ops with kids our own ages or sports teams. Not many of us were that lucky though. And some of us were completely isolated from everyone because we were dependent on our parents to offer opportunities to socialize and many parents just didn’t bother. It’s a legit concern and was reality for many in my generation.

“9. We worry.”

Here she says things like, “We really don’t need you to list the “what-ifs” for us. “What if he can’t get into college?” “What if you can’t teach her the proper way to dissect a frog?” “What if a ‘regular’ school was the better way to go?” We worry about all these things and more. We doubt ourselves and hope we haven’t ruined our children. We have the same Mama-guilt as you”.

This was a bit infuriating. You worry? Did you ever stop to think those worries were legit? We worried too. Worried that we’d never teach ourselves to read when you gave up on us. Worried that we were cheating our way through high school math because we didn’t understand it and you couldn’t figure out how to teach it. Worried that we’d never do anything with our lives because we didn’t know the first thing about life. Worried that we’d always be trapped, that we wouldn’t have friends, that we’d be seen as impostors if we ever stepped foot into a college or workplace. Worried that we’d never fit in anywhere. Worried that we wouldn’t know how to live life outside our very small boxes and 4 walls of our house. Some of us worried because our parents hurt us and since we were homeschooled we had no one to turn to and no way to know if their actions were normal or not. You worried?! Try being us. We are the ones that are still paying for your choices to not listen to your own worries. I’m not saying your worries are less important than ours, but, really, making this all about you and your worries and your success or failure is self-absorbed. This is about your children. If you have sincere worries for their future and whether homeschooling is a good idea or not, pay attention to those worries.

“10. Our kids do normal things.”

That’s cool she gives her kids normal kid things. She is an exception.

Most of us have no idea what any of those things are like. Prom? Heh, please. Dancing in our world was like having sex standing up. OMG you’d have to touch a girl!!! Some of us were forced to dress like Laura Ingalls and never allowed to watch TV. But the one line at the bottom really bothers me: “We like being different. We are okay being different, and we hope you can appreciate us for our differences!” Do you think your kids feel the same way? Would they even tell you if they didn’t? Because my mom said the same things. “Yay, us, we’re different! We’re not like all the sheeple!” But the fact was, I hated being different. I hated being weird and the freak. I hated it all and was miserable because of it. So, parents, speak for yourself. Maybe parents get off on being “different”, wear it like a badge, parading their different children around as some mark of….uniqueness? Superiority? I really have no idea.

But the point is that most homeschooled kids don’t get “normal” and we didn’t like being different, though our parents sure seemed to think it was awesome.

If this is the piece that homeschooling parents are passing around to describe homeschooling, they may want to reevaluate that.

It isn’t a flattering picture at all.

Perhaps what homeschooling today needs is a good dose of empathy: put yourself in your child’s shoes and see their world from their perspective.

Parents who were not homeschooled need to stop writing about what it’s like to be homeschooled because really they have no idea. And since it’s our lives that were affected most, and our futures that were gambled, I think that our perspective is important in order to prevent a lot of the mistakes made in our generation of homeschoolers. Education is, after all, supposed to be about the children and the next generation.

I Was Not Supposed to Happen

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on July 13, 2014.

My most popular post ever, the one on courtship and emotional purity, is making the rounds again, as it does every few months. And with it come the loads of ridiculous assumptions, explaining, excuses, and outright dismissal of everything from my character to my experience to my beliefs. This isn’t anything new. It’s been happening since I started telling my story. It happens to all of my friends from Homeschool Land who also tell their stories. It’s woefully predictable.

“She wasn’t really raised Biblically.”

“He isn’t a good example of proper homeschooling.”

She’s bitter.” (Because obviously being bitter means you’re making stuff up. Or something.)

“His parents obviously didn’t do it right.”

“She’s not indicative of all homeschoolers.”

“He obviously courted in a legalistic way, but that’s not the right way, the way we will do it.”

“The experience she writes about is extremism and not the Godly way of raising kids/homeschooling/courtship/whatever.”

And after every dismissal, an explanation of why they’re different, they’re doing it right, they know better. Their kids will turn out as promised. They have it all planned.

But what these people that comment on our blogs fail to understand is that my parents had it all planned too. They did everything “right”. They read the right books and followed the right teachings that explained how to raise their kids in such a way as to ensure they will grow up to be Godly offspring. People who are the exemptions. People who are whole and full of light and unstained by the world. The next generation of movers and shakers. People who are super Christians.

Had these people who so easily dismiss us met my family 15 years ago, they would’ve wanted to BE us. We were the perfect family. We dressed right, acted right, said all the right things. People used to ask my parents to help their family look like ours; to help them make their kids as good as we were. They called us “godly”, “a refreshment”, “a good example”, and so much more. These people who now turn up their noses in disbelief at me now would’ve been our best friends back in the day.

I think that these people, who are overwhelmingly current homeschooling parents, have to have some way of making sense of the phenomenon of the so-called Homeschooled Apostates. They have to find some reason why what they follow and believe to be “God’s Plan” didn’t work. They encounter people like me and have no idea what to do with us.

Because I was not supposed to happen.

We were not supposed to happen. Every last one of us who was raised in a culture that promised abundant life and Godly children and have now since rejected all or part of our upbringings were not supposed to happen. Sites like Homeschoolers Anonymous, with it’s stories of horrific abuse, neglect, and everyday pain were not supposed to happen. We shouldn’t exist and our stories weren’t supposed to sound the way they do. Not according to all the promises made to our parents, made by our leaders and the authors of the books and the speakers at the homeschool conventions. Yet, here we are.

We who have grown up, evaluated, rejected, and chosen a different path for us and our children….we are threats. Our very existence is a threat to the happy little paradigm that is the conservative homeschool movement. We are realities that threaten to unravel the idealistic fabric of their worldview. They have no idea what to do with us.

So they dismiss us. They make excuses.

They say “well your parents did it wrong, but we’re doing it right!” as we watch them practice the exact same things that damaged and hurt and broke us. We’re desperately waving red warning flags only to be completely disregarded, blamed, and even attacked. Our lives and real stories are no match for the rosy promises of the perfect life, couched in beautiful scripture and Christian idealism. Instead of critically thinking through anything we have to say, evaluating and considering the experiences of countless numbers of people, instead of re-evaluating their own choices and philosophies, against all reason and logic they dismiss us. Pretend we aren’t how we say we are. Convince themselves and others that we and our parents aren’t like them; we did it all wrong and the formula isn’t broken, we’re the ones who are broken.  Even after the formula keeps producing the same result, they cannot let go of it.

But we aren’t going away. We happened, we exist, we aren’t abnormalities…..we’re just people. People who all lived similar lives in a movement our parents all followed for very similar reasons. Every day there are voices added to ours. When I first started blogging, there were very few people telling the story of the homeschool alumni. We had only begun to grow up and process our lives and many of us thought we were alone in this. In the last 5 years, that number has grown exponentially and I predict will continue to do so.

Homeschooling parents today have two choices: ignore the now thousands of warning voices of experience, or carefully listen, reconsider and change direction. I often wonder how many children of the people who dismiss us will end up on our blogs or with blogs of their own that are just like mine. Parents, don’t fool yourselves. You aren’t “doing it right” any more than our parents were “doing it right” when you’re doing the exact same things they did and following the exact same teachings. Your children are not more special than we were.

They are people with free will who will grow up to make their own choices, either because of you or in spite of you.

5 Simple Ways Homeschool Parents Can Better Respect Alumni

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

I read an article the other day entitled, “5 Simple Ways Men Can Better Respect Women.” You should go check it out.

The article inspired me to think of a parallel list for homeschool parents who are interested in how they can better respect us alumni speaking up about our homeschooling experiences. (And while we’re at it, Heather Doney made a great list a while ago called “20 Ways Not to Respond to Homeschool Horror Stories.” You should check her list out, too.)

So without further ado, here are 5 simple ways homeschool parents can better respect alumni:

1. Don’t Parentsplain; Validate.

Parentsplaining is simple: in the same way that “mansplaining” is the act of a man speaking to a woman with the assumption that she knows less than he does about the topic being discussed on the basis of her gender, “parentsplaining” is the act of a parent speaking to a homeschool student or alumni with the assumption that they know less than the parent does about the topic being discussed on the basis of their not-being-parents.

For example, when someone shares an article on Facebook about the damage Christian Patriarchy does to homeschool students’ perceptions of healthy sexuality, and some homeschool parent you haven’t talked to in years randomly pops up and says, “I’ve been homeschooling for decades and I’ve never encountered this so you should stop obsessing with fringe cultures.”

Cue eye rolls from all of us alumni.

Parents, we know you’ve been homeschooling for decades. You know why? Because we’ve been homeschooled for decades. You are welcome to explain to us about all the behind-the-curtains drama among parents, about why you chose this or that curriculum, and if you’d do things differently if you could. But you don’t get to dictate to us whether our experiences were true or valid. We are the ones who have to do that. They are our experiences, not yours. And as the people in the conversation who actually experienced homeschooling — You didn’t experience it, remember? You created the experience — we get to explain the experience, not you.

So stop telling us that we experienced what you created differently than how you intended us to experience it. That’s on you, not us. Maybe you should have thought about that before you created the experiences for us in the first place.

2. Talk to Us Like We’re Adults.

The use of diminutives by homeschool parents starts early. When homeschool alumni are kids and disagree with their parents, parents tell them they will “understand” x or y “when you grow up.” Then alumni do grow up and still disagree. So the parents tell them they will “understand” x or y “when you have kids.” Then alumni do have kids and still disagree. So the parents tell them they will “understand” x or y “when your kids start going to school.” Then alumni’s kids do go to school and still disagree and —

— and you get the point. Sometimes it seems like alumni will only be fully human and only capable of having their own opinions when they are grandparents. Though even then it probably won’t be enough.

So let’s just clear this up: Whatever argument you’re setting forward is either valid or invalid. If it’s valid, its validity cannot rest on whether or not my genitals made a baby with another set of genitals. So explain your argument’s validity and don’t talk down to us. If you cannot actually explain why your position is valid, then realize you haven’t thought it through. Go back to the drawing board and re-engage when you have a better argument than, “But you haven’t done some baby-making yet!”

3. Educate Yourself.

Education isn’t bad. In fact, groups like Homeschoolers Anonymous (and Recovering Grace, and Rethinking Vision Forum, and so forth) exist specifically to educate you. Many of us are constantly educating others, explaining what this or that acronym means (“HSLDA? VF? ATI? IBLP? YMCA?”) or what this or that individual did (“Jonathan Lindvall is to Reb Bradley as Doug Phillips is to Michael Farris?”).


But don’t be lazy. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia of homeschool trivia like some of us are. But you can at least take it upon yourself and do your own research once in a while. Instead of demanding we justify why we think Michael and Debi Pearl are child abuse advocates, go read To Train Up A Child. Or read it again, if you haven’t in 20 years. Or go read Libby Anne’s extensive and detailed analysis of every single paragraph in the book. And if you didn’t know such an analysis existed, ask. If you actually do care about making homeschooling better, then we expect you to be a little more motivated than you seem to come across as.

Otherwise you seem more motivated to disprove us than to actually find out the truth for yourself.

Stop asking us for education. Get educated yourself.

4. Speak Up.

Seriously. Do you care about anything we’re talking about? Then speak up already!

Since groups like HA and Recovering Grace have launched, there have been a few parents and homeschool-convention speakers who have extended an olive branch. These are quick attempts at support and then they go back to their lives, rarely to speak of the interaction ever again. Homeschool celebrities will write a single, solitary blog post and pay lip service to the idea of taking abuse seriously — only to fall silent once again and continue their lives as if the whole deck is not being daily stacked against those of us refusing to be silent.

You can’t be neutral here, parents. You can’t write one blog post and then pretend like you actually did something. You can’t share one post from one alumni group and then act like you contributed to making the homeschooling world a safer place.

If you want to be an advocate for abuse victims and survivors, you need to start raising a ruckus. You need to throw caution to the wind and come along side us and fight for our voices to be heard. You need to start calling out fellow speakers and celebrities — including even your friends — when they advocate legalism, patriarchy, mishandling of child abuse, warped teachings on sex and sexuality, marginalizing attitudes towards LGBT* individuals, and so forth.

Speak up already.

5. Show, Not Tell.

There’s always that one parent who just has to interject and derail a conversation with the phrase, “Not all homeschoolers are like that.” They show up like the Kool-Aid Man:


Dear parents who aren’t “like that”: We know. If you’re not the problem, then you’re not problem. You don’t need to point it out just like a million other parents have pointed out. You don’t need to defend yourself or anyone else who isn’t a terrible human being. You don’t need to apologize “on behalf” of the terrible parents; you don’t need to show us how “with it” you are in terms of Millennial jargon; you don’t have to feel bad if you can’t relate to our memes and jokes.

Here’s what you can do instead: act.

Because actions speak louder than words.

Don’t tell us you listen. Listen. Listen, learn, support, and then go out and help us make the world a better place. We’d love for you to join us.

Crosspost: Homeschooling’s Unwilling Boosters?

Crosspost: Homeschooling’s Unwilling Boosters?

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on June 12, 2013.

Note from Kathryn: The following guest post is a follow-up to my posts, The One Thing You Should Never Ask a Homeschool Kid, and Well, That Was Certainly Not Something I Expected to be ControversialThe author wishes to remain anonymous.


Kathryn blogged [a few weeks ago] about homeschool children who are asked to defend homeschooling to strangers who want to know if they’re well educated and well-adjusted. What does it look and feel like when our parents and homeschooling community expect us to be apologists for homeschooling?

This kind of upbringing can lead to 2 results:

1. You grow haughty about your own superiority and stand at a distance from your peers

2. You don’t learn to be self-reflective, and you end up a crippled version of yourself because you don’t change the things you need to change to become a fully developed adult and.

I know this, because I’ve both seen it in others and lived it myself.  As a homeschool student from K-12, I too was asked by many strangers and friends to defend my experience as a homeschooler.  But the same expectation existed within my own community.

My homeschooling experience started in the early days of the homeschooling movement.  I was often asked by my parents to describe the benefits of my homeschooling experience because they were proud of me, but also because homeschooling still required defense in a lot of circles.  At my graduation, the unwritten expectation of my homeschool community was that I would speak about how my experience was superior to that of my peers.

This expectation exists for most homeschool graduations I’ve been to—parents expect their children to stand as apologists for their homeschool experience.  I once attended a graduation where the two speakers talked about the superiority of their educational upbringing—they were confident, articulate, and very convincing.  Except that I’ve known one of the two speakers since she’s a baby, and I can say quite confidently that she is poorly prepared for the world and hasn’t been given a foundation of independence or critical thinking about her experience or the experiences of other 18 year olds preparing to step into the world.

I went on to college, completed a master’s program, and am a successful young professional.  However, it was only when I was able to objectively look at my homeschool experience and see the good and the bad of it that I was able to grow into a mature adult and shake off the fears of others that kept me from growing into the most complete version of myself.

The problem with those 2 results of being a homeschool apologist?

1. When you’re haughty about the superiority of your homeschool education, you hold all others at arm’s length and rich relationships are impossible.

2. When you continue to insist on the perfection of your own experiences, you are blind to your imperfections and you stay in a static state.

No person is perfect, but inflexibility and a closed view of those who aren’t like you are often a byproduct of becoming a haughty homeschool apologist.  The opposite characteristics – flexibility and openness – are two characteristics that make good friends.  If you can’t be open and flexible in your understanding of the experiences of others, you won’t be a good friend.

Any parent who homeschools their children should give them the freedom to live within their homeschool experience without having to be a homeschool booster.  If you tell people that your children are intelligent and capable of having intelligent discussions, allow them to be a part of the dialogue about the educational choice you’ve made.  Let the discussion be real, and let them tell you why the homeschooling is or isn’t working for them.

If your children really do love and buy into the homeschooling choice – then – they will be the best booster.

Crosspost: That Was Certainly Not Something I Expected To Be Controversial

Crosspost: That Was Certainly Not Something I Expected To Be Controversial

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Kathryn Brightbill’s blog The Life and Opinions of Kathryn Elizabeth, Person. It was originally published on June 7, 2013.

When I wrote my post The One Thing You Should Never Ask a Homeschool Kid a few weeks ago, it didn’t cross my mind that it might generate controversy. It was basically just a rant about something that’s bugged me since I was really little, and since most homeschoolers I know have complained about random people quizzing them about homeschooling, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. “Don’t put homeschool kids on the spot to defend their education,” pretty simple, right? I figured that maybe a few people would see it and think twice before quizzing the homeschool kids they come across and some kids could be spared the general weird awkwardness of those encounters.

So yeah, turns out that I’m a bad judge of what’s controversial.

[The next] Tuesday my little rant was crossposted to Homeschoolers Anonymous. I assumed that the most it would get was a few former homeschoolers commiserating about how much we were annoyed by the questions while we were growing up. That’s the response I got when I posted my original blog post to my personal Facebook.

It seems, however, that some homeschool parents just really aren’t a fan of people saying anything negative about homeschooling—not even if parents are only mentioned in one line of a post that’s mostly about bad behavior by non-homeschooling adults. In my estimation, there should be nothing about saying that no six year old should be expected to explain homeschooling laws, history, and philosophy to adults that could cause defensiveness on the part of parents.

This leads me to ask the following question:

If I, someone who has repeatedly said that I had an overwhelmingly positive homeschooling experience, cannot talk about a negative that is more pet peeve than anything without getting push back from parents, when are homeschoolers ever going to be given the space to be honest about their childhoods? I wasn’t criticizing my parents with that post, I wasn’t criticizing other homeschool parents, I was criticizing the elements of the non-homeschooling public who lack appropriate boundaries in interacting with kids.

Are we only allowed to speak about our experiences if they are positive?

I can tell the positive stories.

I could talk about how when I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, my doctor told me that homeschooling was probably the best thing for me because the smart quiet kid who stares out the window for hours yet still gets good grades usually falls through the cracks. Or I could write about the research that shows that it’s experiences in middle and high school that scare girls away from computer science and engineering, but that I never had anyone to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be good with computers until I’d gotten to college and already knew my capabilities. It would all be true, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth, and deliberately leaving out important information that would allow people to make informed decisions is an awful lot like lying.

The truth is that for as many good things as I can relate, defending homeschooling to strangers before I even lost all my baby teeth was not fun. Neither was spending a good chunk of my childhood and college years trying to make sure that no one would think I was one of those “weird homeschoolers.” Ditto for the pressure of knowing that people thought I was the model homeschool child (it’s impossible to even rebel when your options seem limited to finding some counter culture and possibly being seen as “weird”—what you’ve been trying to avoid, or else becoming the cliche of the goody two shoes who goes wild).

Do those negatives outweigh the positive for me? No. If I had to do my life over again and was given the choice of being homeschooled I’d probably go for it. That doesn’t mean those experiences and feelings weren’t very real and aren’t the reason why I’ve been reluctant for years to discuss anything one way or another about homeschooling.

When homeschooling parents discount the experiences of those of us who actually lived it and have found our way through to the other side as adults, they’re saying to us that we don’t matter. That it’s irrelevant that we were the guinea pigs, and because the results of the little experiment didn’t come out quite like they wanted they’d rather we just disappear.

If I can’t tell my story without generating controversy and flack from parents who don’t want to hear anything negative, then how are the people who had genuinely bad experiences going to be heard?

So again I ask, are we only allowed to speak if we tell you what you want to hear?