I Have No Roots

Photo by Lana Hope.

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on March 7, 2015.

When I left my fundamentalist upbringing behind, I left it all, all my roots, all my friends, all the things that connected me to the past.

They say people need roots, but I have none.

When I’m lonely, I have no where to turn, except to people of the moment. When people talk of old family Christmas traditions, I have none, or nearly none.

When it’s Christmas break, I don’t fly to my parents because there is no Christmas there. When the semester ends, I go camping, not to visit old friends. When I’m lonely, I write in a foreign language on my FB.

My facebook includes no one I knew before the age of 16, and only one person I knew before the age of 18.  That one person wasn’t from my hometown.

I’m almost 30, and my oldest friendships date back only 10 years.

When I walked away from fundamentalism and the homeschool world, I didn’t just leave my old friends behind. I left behind a whole different set of traditions and norms. I have no roots.

For most of my life, we did not have a Christmas tree, Christmas decorations, and lots of presents. We did not have Easter egg hunts on Easter Sunday or dress up for Halloween.

But we did wisdom searches, and sewed our own matching doll clothes, and cooked meals with our friends. We played outdoors and did research in the library.

We had massive family get togethers with other homeschool families. We had a watermelon party at our house because we had so many watermelons, and I remember times with friends where we dug tiny tunnels and had cricket races through them, and I remember all us kids catching 100 baby frogs at our house.

With our local ATI get together, we went swimming in our ridiculous modest swimsuits in our friends swimming pool, rode their massive zipline, played cricket with all the dads and large numbers of siblings. We did this year after year;.

We went to gatherings at the ALERT Academy, which is associated with Bill Gothard and ATI, and we had a whole different set of traditions, such as singing hymns before our meal.

We had American girls club when we were elementary school, and Proverbs 31 girls group in middle school.

But those traditions, if you can call them traditions, were all put behind me when I left fundamentalism. No one else says to you, “what did you do in your proverbs 31 girls group as a kid?” They say “what was your Christmas traditions” and I shrug my shoulder with nothing to say except “well I did lead the little kids birthday party for Jesus.”

My facebook friends talk about meeting up with an old friend from high school; my friends here at the university talk about their old high school friends. I always say nothing, and then come home and facebook search old friends.

I find their facebook cover photos with their 7 siblings and 15 nieces and nephews. One old friend I recently found had a cover photo were she and her whole family (i.e. parents + siblings + their families) were all wearing T-shirts that said, “Children are an inheritance from the Lord.” The mother had bought these for all of her children and grandchildren, which at this point totals nearly 50. In the comment section of the photo, homeschool mothers said, “arrows for God. Praise the Lord.”

And so I realize it’s better not to even look up people from the past; I don’t need to know what they are doing, because my heart might judge them for not leaving it all behind, when I know in my heart that leaving is so difficult it’s almost not worth it.

When I turned 18 I got my drivers license, and went to my own church and formed my own friends. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have someone overseeing my friendships and picking my friends for me. I’m thankful the last ten years have been different than the first ten years, but I can never go back and have any kind of roots.

Some times I think the hardest part of not having roots is not that I don’t know anyone from high school. I think the hardest part is I have no one who remembers what it was like, what the massive get togethers were like; no one to discuss those ridiculous wisdom searches with and all things fundamentalist and evangelical.

People speak of just cutting off the past, but we never really are separate from it. We uproot the tree, and the tree lays there alone. I am that tree. My roots are no longer dug into the soil, but the soil is still around me. There are many other trees around me, and they still have roots, but I don’t. 

I have no roots.

Care for the Heart of Your Homeschool Child

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on June 23, 2014.

I read missions blogs. And missions forums. And missions tweets. And missions whatever.

This is always the reoccurring theme:

“CARE FOR THE HEART OF YOUR THIRD CULTURE CHILD.”

Like: the missionaries utter and repeat this, over and over.

And they say:

“PARENTS, YOU MAY. NOT. GET. IT. You may be living in another country, far from the land of your birth, but you are not a third culture kid. You do not know what it is like to be a third culture kid.”

See, these parents at least try to listen. Because Duh, most missionaries are NOT third culture kids. I have no idea what it’s like to not live in the USA until I am 18, then thrown back into the USA to live. Quite frankly, that sounds terrifying.

Thankfully, many missionary parents are listening to this advice instead of throwing out: “Why are you writing this article? THIRD CULTURE LIVING IS PERFECT.”

They get it. Being a third culture kid is kind of wonderful but kind of restless, frightening, and odd at the same time.

What is sad is that homeschool parents cannot give us homeschool kids the same space that third culture kids have.

I half joked the other day about those who tell me to stay in North America because I’m too bitter to plant the church. But in all seriousness, most of my troll comments and emails come from homeschool parents who wish to inform me that NOT ALL HOMESCHOOLERS ARE LIKE THAT and I’M JUST BITTER.

I do not believe homeschooling is evil in itself or that we should pity homeschool kids or burn homeschool parents at stake. Conversely, I know that homeschooling can be an enriching experience, and that it offers more flexibility than public schools. I know first hand the positives of homeschooling, and the negatives of homeschooling.

So my message to the homeschool parents is this: Just bug off. If you’re not a homeschool kid, stop telling our stories.

Instead, I will repeat the advice one missionary parent offered other missionary parents. It’s so applicable to homeschool parents that I offer it back with direct quotes from the missionary parent. I have substituted HK (homeschool kid) for TCK (third culture kid).

1. Cool advice number 1: your homeschool kid’s experience will be different than your homeschool parents experience

Recognize that your [HK]’s experiences will be vastly different from yours. Maybe more positive, maybe more negative. They may not identify with your host culture as much as you do. They may identify with it more than you. Are you ok with that?

When our family drives by the US Embassy and sees the flag flying, my kids feel nothing. When the President visited Phnom Penh and we saw Marine One (the President’s helicopter) flying over the Mekong, I stood there and cried like a baby. My boys looked up at me and said, “OK, can we go eat now?”

Cool advice number 2: If you want to alienate your homeschool kids, tell them they are ungrateful.

One of the quickest ways to damage the heart of a [HK] is to outlaw negative emotions (grief, anger, disappointment, etc.). Tell them they shouldn’t feel something, or that they just need to suck it up, or that their feelings show a lack of gratefulness. Yup, that’ll do it.

But, and this is the great part, allowing a TCK to experience the full range of emotions is one of the most caring things you can do. It’s also one of the healthiest things you can do.

I found this comment from a third culture kid interesting. Sound familiar?

“My parents were often busy, and would give me lines like, ‘Living here is good for you! It’s something few other people ever get to experience. When you get older and look back on this time, you’ll be grateful for what you learned here.’ Their comments were well meant, but they didn’t know the depth of my pain.”

Again, both homeschoolers and third culture kids speak of their positive experiences. Both speak of their negative points. But currently, it’s considered acceptable for third culture kids to speak of both, but NOT for homeschoolers to speak of both.

Although, before I praise these parents too hard, I suspect if missionary kids group together and form a webpage of their own version of Homeschoolers Anonymous, missionary parents will get upset and say they are just bitter and ugly too.

But can we get rid of this defense thing, please? Because:

Cool Advice #3: We are not here to validate our parents ministry, emotions, or ego.

This one’s insidious. And devastating. But tying your validation to your child’s behavior (good or bad) is a socially acceptable form of idolatry. It has nothing to do with walking in obedience, and everything to do with looking outside of the Father for approval and validation.

We are our own person.

If You Meet a Homeschoooler

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hope’s blog Wide Open Ground. It was originally published on December 3, 2012.

If you meet a homeschooler, be patient. If you meet a homeschooler, be a trusted friend. Help her. Don’t gossip.

I remember, when I was in college, a homeschool graduate girl was taking a human sexuality class. She  asked her  roommate what “ejaculation” meant.  The roommate told one friend about the conversation, who told another friend, who told another friend until the whole campus knew. (Small college.) The gossip? “Sheltered girl doesn’t know anything about sex.”

When the gossip reached me, it hurt me at a personal level because I had been clueless about human sexuality when I first started college, too. But as an introvert, I just educated myself privately. When friends brought up stuff I had no clue about, I withdrew inwardly and would go home and look it up online and feel like screaming.

And I hid the fact that I had been homeschooled. Because I didn’t want that kind of gossip against me.

I speak of patience, not sex education. Of course, some homeschoolers were given a sex education. (Though on a forum for homeschool graduates, the overwhelming majority of females had the same experience as me.) But if we take  “sex education” and replace it with any number of things a homeschooler might not know, well, then have a good idea of what I mean when I say be patient, and don’t gossip.

Homeschooling is a sub-culture. If you’ve never been homeschooled yourself (that includes homeschool parents who weren’t homeschooled themselves), it’s difficult to understand what it’s like to step into the world, and have no clue about American pop culture or all kinds of jokes and American-isms. In fact, it’s so hard for some homeschoolers to ever belong in the “real world” that some just stay at home until they get married because doing the whole college — working in the real world as I did — sucked.

Listen, it sucked.

Because no one ever understood.

If a homeschooler doesn’t know the name of a popular TV show, popular movie, or the works of evolution or a joke or anything else under the sun? Answer the question, and then keep it to yourself.

You don’t need to tell anyone. It’s not going to help.

March Series: Media Memories

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Being homeschooled makes you part of a cohort. You share a common language and culture with other homeschooled individuals that seems like a foreign language to others outside that cohort. It’s like a variation on the “third culture kid” concept.

As Christian homeschoolers, many of us are also a part of the larger “American evangelical” cohort. We are the Jesus Freaks: the children of the flannel graph, raised on a healthy diet of Psalty, Veggie Tales, Donut Man, and Carman.

That culture we were raised in? Many of us (though not all) have mentally burned it to the ground. Yet we find ourselves circling back to where it burned and sifting through the ashes for memories to redeem. Inside that whole culture’s remains — homeschooling in particular, American Christianity in general — we have found solace, peace, and transformation. Maybe you found hope for your depression in Jars of Clay’s Much Afraid; maybe you found stress from the “seriousness” of the church in Veggie Tales; maybe, maybe not.

But for the “Media Memories” series, we want to remember those pieces of media — whether videos (Buttercream Gang, anyone?), music, TV, books, etc. — that were a part of our culture and impacted us deeply. Consider this nostalgia week, basically. Pick something that you loved, or hated (maybe even hated vehemently), or (probably most commonly) have a love/hate relationship with, and talk about it. It can be a song that got you through hard times, a book that helped you break free from the culture, a movie that prompted a new stage in your recovery process — or a creative conspiracy theory about Psalty.

Or even just something you remember lightheartedly with a smile.

* Deadline for “Media Memories” submission: Monday, March 24, 2014. *

Please put “For Media Memories Series” as the title of the email.

As always, you can contribute anonymously or publicly.

If you interested in participating in this, please email us at homeschoolersanonymous@gmail.com.

Two Upcoming Series: Sex Education and Media Memories

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By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

For the first time since we started our topical series, we are going to announce two series at once. If you are interested in writing something, you are welcome to do so for either one (or even both, if you desire).

February Series: Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)

For many Christian homeschoolers, sex education is one of the top reasons why we were homeschooled — specifically, so that we would either not get any or get a very religious version of it. It remains a motivating factor to this day, which makes sense since “religious or moral instruction” is still the most common reason parents choose to homeschool their children.

For the “Let’s Talk About Sex (Ed)” series, please feel free to submit any stories and thoughts you have about homeschooling and sex ed. Ideas could include (but should be not limited to):

  • What your sex education (or lack thereof) consisted of
  • How better sex education could have helped you
  • How you received a good sex education and how that helped you
  • How you received a bad sex education and how that harmed you
  • What your sex education (or lack thereof) communicated to you about body- and sex-positivity
  • How a lack of sex education kept you silent about abuse
  • Some variation of “What I Wish 16-Year-Old Me Knew About Sex and Sexuality”
  • How sex education (or the lack thereof) that focused only on straight sexuality alienated or harmed you as an LGBT* individual
  • Humorous, embarrassing stories as you went about educating yourself about sex
  • Resources for others on sex education

Deadline for submission for Sex Ed series: Thursday, February 13, 2014.

Please put “For Sex Ed Series” as the title of the email.

As always, you can contribute anonymously or publicly.

If you interested in participating in this, please email us at homeschoolersanonymous@gmail.com.

******

March Series: Media Memories

Being homeschooled makes you part of a cohort. You share a common language and culture with other homeschooled individuals that seems like a foreign language to others outside that cohort. It’s like a variation on the “third culture kid” concept.

As Christian homeschoolers, we also are a part of the larger “American evangelical” cohort. We are the Jesus Freaks: the children of the flannel graph, raised on a healthy diet of Psalty, Veggie Tales, Donut Man, and Carmen.

That culture we were raised in? Many of us (though not all) have mentally burned it to the ground. Yet we find ourselves circling back to where it burned and sifting through the ashes for memories to redeem. Inside that whole culture’s remains — homeschooling in particular, American Christianity in general — we have found solace, peace, and transformation. Maybe you found hope for your depression in Jars of Clay’s Much Afraid; maybe you found stress from the “seriousness” of the church in Veggie Tales; maybe, maybe not.

But for the “Media Memories” series, we want to remember those pieces of media — whether videos (Buttercream Gang, anyone?), music, TV, books, etc. — that were a part of our culture and impacted us deeply. Consider this nostalgia week, basically. Pick something that you loved, or hated (maybe even hated vehemently), or (probably most commonly) have a love/hate relationship with, and talk about it. It can be a song that got you through hard times, a book that helped you break free from the culture, a movie that prompted a new stage in your recovery process — or a creative conspiracy theory about Psalty.

Or even just something you remember lightheartedly with a smile.

Deadline for “Media Memories” submission: Saturday, March 15, 2014.

Please put “For Media Memories Series” as the title of the email.

As always, you can contribute anonymously or publicly.

If you interested in participating in this, please email us at homeschoolersanonymous@gmail.com.