Wednesday 31 July 2013

Homeschooling as Abuse - The Reality

Authors note: I am not specifically against homeschooling, I am against abusive homeschooling, and references to homeschooling below refer to isolating religious abusive homeschooling, although I caution readers that it may not be easy to see the difference. 

I wrote before about trying to explain to my mother why homeschooling can be abusive, especially if combined with patriarchal quiverfull religion.

It might be helpful to know the past. In the past I was homeschooled, in a manner of speaking. My parents believed in homeschooling, and therefore kept us all home instead of sending us to school. This meant that we did not get to socialize with other children. What is written below was my own family's experience over the years, but it is a typical experience in one particular homeschool group we were part of for some time.

There was an effort made to be involved with other homeschooled children. This is a very ineffective method of socialization. Other homeschooled children are typically in the same position: parentalized children, who don't know how to play with other children, who are taught that they are too smart/special/unique/precious/fragile for school. Homeschool groups are filled with children who respond to the abnormal stimulus in their lives in one of two ways: they tend to either absorb the message that they are not as good as other people and are in the world to serve others, or they absorb the message that they are the best at whatever it is they excel at, and are the big fish in the little pond. Homeschooled children bully each other in these groups, but it is not recognized because the stronger children feel that they are occupying their rightful place in the world, and the bullied children also feel they are occupying their rightful place in the world. Placing a child in a situation where they must either bully or be bullied is abuse.

Homeschool parents often seem proud of the isolated circle that exists in a homeschooled family. The children get up, do chores, eat breakfast, and if they are lucky -and many many are not- they do school work. Then at the end of the day, they do more chores, eat dinner, spend more time with their families, and go to bed. They do it again the next day. This does not teach children to adapt to change, except the added hardship of additional children. Children may learn how to act in a community by going shopping with their mothers, but as the number of children grows, they not only become an oddity or curiosity for others to observe when in town, but usually more of the children get left at home because it is simply impractical to bring that many people to town. If children are left at home, they are then babysat by a parentified child, or they all still go but a parentified child takes on some of the parenting in the community. Making a child into a spectacle for others is abuse. Making a child take on a parental role is abuse. Not teaching children to adapt to change is abuse.

Children in these isolated circles grow up without learning how to behave in a normal fashion. They do not learn to play with children, which also means they do not experience a definitive time when they grow out of doing childlike things. This often means that when the child reaches young adulthood, they exhibit some very childlike behaviors and some very adult behaviors. This again makes them a curiosity to others. Teaching a child to act in age-inappropriate ways that makes them vulnerable in society is abuse.

Homeschooled children in patriarchal homes often start out wanting what other children have - normal sized families, going to school, and having field trips and friends. Homeschool parents such as what I am describing are not in a position for their older children to have friends, because with so many children at home all the time, they need all the help they can get in running the household. They typically cannot afford contrived field trips either, because with one breadwinner and one stay at home mother and school-teacher with a large number of children, there is not money for such extras. These children are then taught that the way of life they observe in others who attend public schools and spend time away from their families is immoral. They are taught that most people do not know the true path and are going to hell. Because complete cooperation is required, children are taught that any selfish thoughts are immoral, and they should want to serve. They are told that the way to JOY is Jesus First, Others in between, Yourself last. Not allowing children to have friends is abuse. Teaching children that their needs are not important and that feeling need is immoral is abuse.

These children are taught to fear the world to mitigate the attractiveness of a normal life. They are taught to be afraid of strangers, to fear social workers and the government, and to regard all outsiders as immoral. They are taught to judge others who do not hold the same lifestyle. They are taught to be suspicious of everyone around them and to question the motives of anyone outside the circle. They are taught that feminists and people of other religions are going to hell. Teaching children that 99% of the people in the world - specifically the people in the world who don't see things the same as the parents- are going to hell is abusive because it makes it appear to a child that if you disagree with the parents you will go to hell. Teaching children to be terrified in safe society is abuse. Teaching children to fear a normal life is abuse.

Homeschooled children are taught all these things and more, and it is abusive.


  1. I was home schooled... so much of what you said rang true. I am a twenty three year old mother of three and I am extremely socially awkward and feel like I feel emotions that should be felt by small children and old people, not someone my age. It's very weird, and very hard to learn how to act at this age. Thanks for this- I never thought of it this way.

    1. I can definitely relate to what you are saying Christa. It is hard, but there is hope. Sometimes I just google things I wonder about. I have looked at a lot of Wiki-hows :) I think it is definitely possible to outgrow what happened, once you have the freedom to find what you are missing. I wish you all the best.

  2. I attended public school all 12 years and am now homeschooling my six children. I sense that you normalize any school experience that is not homeschooling and in reality nothing could be further from the truth. I could outline just as many ways I was abused in a public school and two income parent environment. There is no panacea, sin exists anywhere and everywhere because we live in a fallen world. I hope this helps you feel more normal because public school, believe me, is not the definition of normal. It isn't as though public school kids have everything figured out and have cornered the info. market on life. I have not read your whole blog, so you may have done this, but I would also make a list of all the blessings of your childhood. Even Corrie Ten Boom was able to do this while in a concentration camp - she was thankful for fleas! It will help you not feel like such a victim.

    1. In a way I do normalize the public school experience. I did attend a public high school for a few years after I fled my parents' home, so I have experience in both public school and homeschooling. Children who attend public school are being prepared for life in the world, and homeschooled children in my experience (and I have known hundreds and now know even more through the magic of the internet), especially the girls, are being prepared to be homeschooling parents, and they are often not being prepared to know themselves or make decisions, or participate in workplaces, politics, and social circles other than the church.